Ole Miss track & field freshman Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan showed no fear against some of the best throwers in the nation, winning the first conference hammer title in school history to lead the Rebels at Day One of the 2023 SEC Outdoor Championships on Thursday.
Robinson-O’Hagan has been no stranger to high-quality performances throughout his bombastic first year at Ole Miss, reshaping the Rebel record books in his image in no time. But in Thursday’s hammer competition, Robinson-O’Hagan took command early and never relinquished – eventually winning by almost four feet on his fifth-round attempt of 71.25m/233-09.
Robinson-O’Hagan is the first Rebel – man or woman – to win an SEC title in the hammer throw, and he is the first freshman to win the men’s hammer crown since Florida’s Anders Eriksson won in 2016. His winning throw of 71.25m/233-09 broke his own school record set two weeks ago by 1.5 feet, and this season it puts him No. 8 in the NCAA and No. 14 in the United States.
He also is now the first collegiate freshman to break 71 meters in the hammer since 2018 when two freshmen did so: LSU’s Jake Norris (73.24m/240-04) and Florida’s Thomas Mardal (72.20m/236-11).
Ole Miss caught a haul of points over in the women’s hammer as well, with the Rebel women collecting 18 total points from the All-American senior trio of Jalani Davis, Shey Taiwo and Jasmine Mitchell. Davis leapfrogged Taiwo in the final round for silver at 67.27m/220-08, besting out Taiwo’s bronze medal toss of 67.13m/220-03 in the third round. Mitchell took fifth at 63.99m/209-11.
Rounding out the Rebel scoring on Day One were a pair of performances in the men’s and women’s 10K races at the end of the evening.
In the men’s race, senior Ben Savino used a furious final kick to move into fifth place and score four points for the Ole Miss men, clocking in at 30:23.12. In the women’s 10K, senior Ryann Helmers scored in seventh at 35:54.75.
Ole Miss also tallied three crucial tickets to Saturday finals in races on the track.
All-American senior and SEC leader McKenzie Long punched her first finals ticket of what should be a very busy weekend of action for the talented sprinter. Long earned an automatic bid to Saturday’s final in the 200-meter dash by winning Heat One of the prelims Thursday at 22.82 (-1.9), the third-fastest qualifying time of the night, but the fastest into a headwind.
The All-American Rebel men’s duo of seniors Tiarnan Crorken and Baylor Franklin took care of business in the men’s 800-meter prelims by both winning their heats for AQ bids to the final on Saturday. Crorken won Heat One at 1:47.75 – the second-fastest time of the night – while Franklin won the second heat at 1:49.08, which ranked fourth among all qualifiers.
Ole Miss nearly had a fourth finals qualifier in freshman Gabrielle Matthews, who just narrowly missed making the final in the women’s 400-meter hurdles despite breaking the school record in the event. Matthews finished third in Heat three at a huge PR of 57.04, which broke Sofie Persson’s previous record of 57.23 from the 2010 European Championships.
Unfortunately for Matthews, however, it still wasn’t enough to make Saturday’s final, as she fell one tenth of a second shy of advancing.
Ole Miss will be back in action on Friday for Day Two, first with the resumption of the men’s decathlon at 11 a.m. CT and then the women’s heptathlon at 11:45 a.m. CT.
Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports