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Ole Miss Track & Field Seeks National Tickets at NCAA East Regional

McKenzie Long Photo courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Ole Miss track & field is looking for a big haul of tickets to the outdoor national meet, as the Rebels are set with 35 entries from 29 student-athletes at this week’s 2023 NCAA East Region Preliminary Round Championships.
• Competition will run May 24-27 at the University of North Florida’s Hodges Stadium, and fans can watch the evening track action live on ESPN+.
• The 35 total regional entries for Ole Miss ranks as the second-most in school history, trailing only the record 43 set by the 2021 Rebel squad. In eight years at Ole Miss, head coach Connie Price-Smith has averaged 30.6 athletes and 34.3 entries at the regional meet, and from there she has sent an average of 12.2 athletes and 10.7 entries to the national meet.
• In her Ole Miss tenure, Price-Smith has mentored three NCAA Outdoor Champions (Raven Saunders, shot put, 2016; Janeah Stewart, hammer, 2018; Sintayehu Vissa, 1500-meter, 2022), 61 outdoor First or Second-Team All-Americans (39 women, 22 men) and brought the Rebels four national top-25 team finishes outdoors – with the Rebel men tying for 14th in 2017 and the women tying for 19th in 2022, finishing 20th in 2018 and 22nd in 2016.
• The Rebel women lead the way with 19 entries from 14 athletes, while the Rebel men tallied 16 entries from 15 athletes. Among those are a total of nine Ole Miss student-athletes competing in their first regional meet (eight men, one woman).
• A total of eight Rebels will be attempting at least a double (seven women, one man), with senior sprinter and SEC 200-meter champion McKenzie Long attempting a triple in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter relay.
• To qualify for this first round of the NCAA Championships, student-athletes must have finished the season ranked within the top-48 of their individual events or as a member of a top-24 relay team on their respective regional qualifying list (East or West), which was released by the NCAA last Thursday. The top-12 athletes in the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon in the East and West automatically receive entry to the national meet. From there, the top-12 finishers in each event at each regional meet advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which will be held this year at the University of Texas on June 7-10.
• The Ole Miss women are coming off a historic performance at the SEC Outdoor Championships in Baton Rouge two weeks ago, where the 10th-ranked Rebels finished a program record fourth (73.5) behind No. 3 Arkansas (134), No. 2 Florida (112) and No. 7 Texas A&M (86) and ahead of No. 8 Georgia (sixth, 57), No. 6 LSU (seventh, 53) and No. 9 Kentucky (tied for eighth, 50).
• Since 2016, Ole Miss has now either tied or set SEC record finishes twice on the women’s side outdoors (fourth, 2023; fifth, 2018), three times indoors (fourth, 2023; fifth, 2022; fifth, 2017), as well as twice for the Rebel men indoors (third, 2017; third, 2016).
• Ole Miss received SEC title winning performances from McKenzie Long in the women’s 200-meter dash, Kristel van den Berg in the women’s 3000-meter steeplechase, and Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan in the men’s hammer. Long also added a bronze in the 100-meter dash.
• Other medalists included: Jalani Davis in both the shot put (silver) and hammer (silver), Shane Bracken in the men’s 1500-meter (silver), Tiarnan Crorken in the men’s 800-meter (bronze) and Shey Taiwo in the hammer (bronze).
• Ole Miss currently ranks No. 10 in the women’s USTFCCCA National Rating Index for Week Nine heading into the regional meet. The Rebel women have ranked within the top-10 eight times in nine tries this outdoor season, falling out only once in Week Eight (No. 11), and setting a new school record for consecutive top-10 appearances at seven in a row from Week One to Week Seven.
• The Rebel women rose as high as No. 7 in Week Two, which broke the previous outdoor record of No. 8 set both by the Rebel women in Week One, and the 2012 Rebel men, who rose to No. 8 in Week Five of the 2012 outdoor campaign.
• Overall, this is the 47th all-time appearance in the outdoor rating index for the Rebel women, and the 38th since 2016 under the supervision of eighth-year head coach Connie Price-Smith.
• The Rebel men, meanwhile, aren’t far outside the top-25 in the Week Seven release, currently sitting in 36th nationally. The Ole Miss men have appeared once this outdoor season at No. 24 in Week Six, and have not ranked lower than 36th.
• Senior McKenzie Long rolled from a spectacular indoor season right into a show-stopping outdoor season that has included three school records, an SEC title and an eye-opening debut at the Texas Relays as she enters the NCAA East Regional as a national contender in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes.
• Long enters No. 1 in the East Region and No. 2 in the NCAA in the 100-meter at her Texas Relays prelim time of 10.80 (+3.5), with her wind-legal PR standing at 11.00 (+0.2) — both Ole Miss records. Worldwide Long’s 10.80 ranks No. 4 on the all-conditions list for 2023.
• All-time, Long’s 10.80 ranks tied for sixth on the collegiate all-conditions list, trailing only Texas’ Julien Alfred from April of this year (10.72/+2.4), North Carolina A&T’s Cambrea Sturgis from the 2021 NCAA Championships (10.74/+2.2), LSU’s Sha’Carri Richardson from the 2019 NCAA Championships (10.75/+1.6), LSU’s Dawn Sowell from the 1989 NCAA Championships (10.78/+1.0) and USC’s Twanisha Terry from the 2021 NCAA Championships (10.79/+2.2).
• Immediately following her final was an invitational section of the 100-meter dash filled with professionals and Olympians, and when the times flashed on the screen, Long’s two-day performance became even more impressive as her 11.00 beat out the heat winner – Olympian Gabby Thomas – by nine hundredths of a second.
• Both of those times flew past Long’s previous career-bests, a wind-legal 11.49 (+0.3) from the 2022 Virginia Challenge and a windy 11.40 (+3.1) from the 2019 U.S. U20 Championships.
• Long is the first Rebel woman to ever break 11 seconds in the 100-meter in any conditions – joining her similar feats indoors as the first Rebel woman to hit 7.10 in the 60-meter (7.10) and break 23 seconds in the 200-meter (22.48). Combined with another windy 10.92 (+2.4) at Florida’s Tom Jones Memorial, Long has hit or broken 11 seconds three times this outdoor season.
• At Florida, Long took down the Ole Miss outdoor record in the 200-meter dash at a wind-legal 22.31 (+1.8), currently the No. 2 time in the East Region, No. 4 in the NCAA, No. 5 in the United States and No. 6 worldwide this season.
• Long entered the SEC meet among the favorites in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes – as well as a crucial component of the Ole Miss 4×100-meter relay squad – and proved she belongs among the elite with an incredible workhorse performance with 17.5 total points for the Rebel women in their record fourth-place finish, which put her No. 6 among all scorers at the meet.
• Long came away as the SEC Champion in the women’s 200-meter dash, edging out Tennessee’s Jacious Sears by six hundredths of a second at the line, winning 22.39 to Sears’ 22.45 at a completely still 0.0 meters per second wind-reading. That time was just off her career-best 22.31 (+1.8) from last month but was good enough to make her the first Rebel woman to ever win an SEC title in the 200-meter dash – indoors or outdoors.
• Overall, Long is just the third Rebel to ever win an SEC Outdoor title in the 200-meter dash, now standing alongside Olympians Isiah Young (2012, ‘13) and Tony Dees (1984) from the men’s side.
• Less than an hour earlier, Long battled in a contentious 100-meter dash final. Long was the bronze medal winner at 11.04 (+0.9), just barely losing a tiebreaker for silver by three thousandths of a second to Georgia’s Kaila Jackson, 11.032 to 11.035. Long’s bronze medal finish stands as the second-best ever by a Rebel woman in the 100-meter dash, trailing only a silver by All-American Teneeshia Jones in 2000.
• And just more than an hour prior to that, Long ran the leadoff leg on a school-record performance from the Ole Miss women’s 4×100-meter relay squad. Long, Gabrielle Matthews, Jayda Eckford and Ariyonna Augustine crossed the line in 43.43 to break the 2019 record of 43.45 and finish fourth in the race.
• That Rebel 4×100 enters the East Regional seeded No. 7 overall. Ole Miss has qualified its women’s 4×100-meter relay for the NCAA Championships in each of the last seven seasons.
• Long capped off the night running the second leg on Ole Miss’ 4×400-meter relay that ran the 10th-fastest time in school history at 3:37.65.
• Indoors, Long wowed with massive improvements in the 60-meter and 200-meter dashes, culminating with an SEC silver in the 200 and First-Team All-America finishes in both events.
• Long already owns six Ole Miss records in less than six months in a Rebel uniform: the indoor 60-meter (7.10), the outdoor 100-meter (10.80/+3.5), the indoor 200-meter (22.48), the outdoor 200-meter (22.31/+1.8), the indoor 300-meter (37.38) and the 4×100-meter relay (43.43).
• All four members of the Ole Miss 4×100-meter relay are at least doubling, with Long set to triple in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter relay.
• Freshman Gabrielle Matthews enters seeded No. 16 in the 400-meter hurdles after her school record performance of 57.04 in the prelims of the SEC Outdoor Championships two weeks ago. Matthews broke Sofie Persson’s previous record of 57.23 from the 2010 European Championships.
• Also doubling from the relay are seniors Jayda Eckford in the 200-meter dash (No. 28, 23.23/+1.7) and Ariyonna Augustine in the 100-meter dash (No. 35, 11.40/+2.2).
• Ole Miss enters the regional meet with three powerful potential tickets to Austin in the women’s hammer from All-American seniors Jasmine Mitchell, Jalani Davis and Shey Taiwo.
• Mitchell currently leads the way, entering with the East’s No. 2 seed mark at her 11-foot PR of 69.58m/228-03 from the LSU Invite last month.
• Reigning NCAA Indoor weight throw champion Jalani Davis currently ranks No. 5 in the East at her season-best 68.04m/223-03 from LSU as well. Combined with her East No. 4 shot put outdoor PR of 17.94m/58-10.25, Davis is the only thrower in the NCAA at 223 feet in the hammer and 58 feet in the shot put, and worldwide she is one of two alongside professional Maggie Ewen.
• Indoors, Davis became the first woman in world history to break 80 feet in the weight throw and 60 feet in the shot put, and she did so in the same meet at the SEC Indoor Championships. Combined, Davis is also the only thrower in world history at 80 feet in the weight throw (24.63m/80-09.75; 2023), 60 feet in the shot put in either season (18.43m/60-05.75; 2023 indoor), 228 feet in the hammer (69.53m/228-01; 2022) and 184 feet in the discus (56.23m/184-06; 2021).
• Davis scored 16 points for the Rebel women at the SEC Outdoor Championships two weeks ago, taking silver in both the hammer and shot put.
• Senior Shey Taiwo’s season-opening 67.69m/222-01 still has her high on the East leaderboards at No. 7. Taiwo missed the 2022 outdoor season due to injury and was granted an extra year in 2023.
• Taiwo put together the most prolific weight throw season in NCAA history in 2022 en route to the national title, ending one centimeter shy of the collegiate record at 25.55m/83-10. The year before — her last full outdoor season — Taiwo was the NCAA runner-up in the hammer at 71.27m/233-10. That mark still ranks her as the No. 10 performer in collegiate history and as the top returner for 2023.
• When combining the season-bests for Davis, Mitchell and Taiwo, the Rebel trio hold an average hammer distance of 68.44m/224-06. When combining their career bests, that number shoots up to 70.13m/230-01.
• Both Mitchell and Davis will be pulling double-duty in Jacksonville across the hammer and the shot put. Davis enters seeded No. 4 at her previously mentioned outdoor PR, while Mitchell comes in at No. 17 at a season-best 16.75m/54-11.50.
• Senior Tedreauna Britt will compete in the discus at the regional meet for the fourth time in her career, coming into the meet seeded No. 18 at a PR toss of 54.94m/180-03.
• Senior Skylar Boogerd owns the top seed mark out of four Rebel women’s distance runners competing in Jacksonville this week. Her school record 10K time of 32:47.83 enters the meet seeded No. 6 in the hopes of becoming just the second Rebel woman to ever qualify for the national meet in the 10K alongside Clio Ozanne-Jaques from 2021.
• Senior Kristel van den Berg not only enters the regional meet with a top-10 seed time, but is also coming off a thrilling SEC Outdoor performance that won her gold in the 3000-meter steeplechase. van den Berg became the second Rebel woman to ever win the steeple alongside Shelby Brown, toppling Brown’s 2018 school record of 9:56.56 en route to the victory and the No. 10 entry mark for the East Regional this week. That time ranks No. 7 in Dutch history, as well as No. 2 among all runners from the Netherlands this season.
• van den Berg also took down the Ole Miss record in the 5K earlier this season at Stanford, running 15:54.27 to break Boogerd’s previous mark of 15:54.46.
• Senior hurdler Jaiden Paris has been consistent all outdoor season long, taking down the Ole Miss record in the 100-meter hurdles multiple times. Her current record of 13.11 (+0.9) puts her at No. 15 among East Region entrants this week. Paris is the first Rebel woman to break 13.20 in the hurdles, regardless of wind reading.
• Senior Loral Winn will be attempting the 1500/5K double this week, entering seeded No. 18 in the 5K at her PR of 15:55.57, while ranking No. 22 at her 1500-meter season-best of 4:16.11.
• Also competing for the Rebel women this weekend are junior Samara McConnell in the pole vault (No. 30, 4.10m/13-05.25) and senior Sara Van Aken in the high jump (No. 40, 1.76m/5-09.25). This will be McConnell’s third trip to the NCAA East Regional, and the second for Van Aken.
• Half of the Ole Miss men’s entries — 8 of the 16 total — come from the Rebel men’s distance squad, with two entries apiece across the 800-meter, 1500-meter, 5K and 10K races.
• The top overall seed for the Ole Miss men is All-American senior Anthony Camerieri, who enters ranked No. 3 in the 5K at his massive school record of 13:26.58 from the Stanford Invite, which also ranks No. 8 in the United States this season. Joining him in the 5K is fellow senior Dereck Elkins at his PR time of 13:50.12 also from Stanford, which ranks as the No. 30 seed time in the East Region.
• Ole Miss owns a powerful duo in the 800-meter in All-American seniors Tiarnan Crorken and Baylor Franklin. The pair combined for 11 points in the 800-meter at the SEC Outdoor meet two weeks ago with third and fourth-place finishes, respectively. Crorken enters the regional meet seeded No. 4 at his collegiate PR of 1:46.82 from the Texas Relays, with Franklin not far back at No. 8 at a season-best 1:47.21 from the Virginia Challenge in April.
• Both ran on Ole Miss’ winning 4×800-meter relay at the Penn Relays back in April. Ole Miss became the first school to repeat in the men’s 4×800-meter relay since Penn State in 2012-13, winning at the fifth-best time in collegiate history at 7:12.37. The All-American quartet of Cade Flatt, Shane Bracken, Crorkan and Franklin brought the wheel back home to Oxford, the 11th Penn Relays win in school history. That time fell within two seconds of the Penn Relays record of 7:11.17 set by Penn State in 1985, and Franklin was the hero down the stretch as he took Ole Miss from third to first on his anchor leg of 1:47.78. Other splits were Flatt at 1:50.85, Bracken in 1:47.04 and Crorken in 1:46.70.
• Ole Miss will have dual action in the men’s 10K as well from the top-two 10K runners in school history. Senior Ben Savino enters seeded No. 16 at his massive school record of 28:50.64 from the Stanford Invitational earlier this season, with fellow senior Chris Maxon not far behind at No. 20 at his Ole Miss No. 2 time of 28:55.71 — also from Stanford. The duo were the first in Ole Miss history to break the 29-minute barrier in the 10K.
• All-American senior Shane Bracken is coming off a silver-medal performance in the 1500-meter at the SEC Championships, and he will be looking for a ticket to Austin, seeded No. 20 at his collegiate best of 3:40.15. Fellow senior Dalton Hengst will be looking to book a return trip to Austin, seeded No. 40 at his PR time of 3:42.09. Hengst qualified for the national meet the last time it was held in Austin in 2019, qualifying as a freshman alongside Rebel great Waleed Suliman in what was then his sophomore season.
• Freshman Tarik Robinson-O’Hagan will look to make some noise in Jacksonville this week as he attempts the shot put/hammer double at his school record marks that both enter seeded within the top-10 of their respective events.
• Robinson-O’Hagan is coming off a superb title-winning performance at the SEC Outdoor Championships, where he became the first SEC hammer champion in Ole Miss history — man or woman. His winning throw of 71.25m/233-09 broke his own school record by more than a foot, and won by almost four feet — making him the first freshman to win the SEC hammer title since Florida’s Anders Eriksson won in 2016
• His winning throw of 71.25m/233-09 puts him at No. 6 on the East seed list entering the regional meet, and it made him 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).
• Robinson-O’Hagan also broke the Ole Miss record in the shot put, finishing seventh at 19.24m/63-01.50 to become the first 63-foot shot putter in school history outdoors. That mark also ranks him No. 10 in the East entering this week’s regional meet.
• Robinson-O’Hagan is one of only two throwers in the NCAA — and the only freshman — to break 233 feet in the hammer and 63 feet in the shot put alongside Arizona multiple time national champion Jordan Geist.
• In total this season, Robinson-O’Hagan has scored 24 SEC meet points — 12 indoors, 12 outdoors. He put together the best freshman season in the history of collegiate track & field in the weight throw, breaking the collegiate freshman record in the weight throw (23.62m/77-6) and also ranking as one of just five in collegiate history — regardless of year — to break 77 feet in the weight and 64 feet in the shot put (19.73m/64-08.75). He went on to finish third at the NCAA Indoor meet in the weight.
• Also competing in the shot put for Ole Miss will be senior Daniel Viveros, who enters ranked No. 20 in the East at 18.59m/61-0. This is Viveros’ third career NCAA East Regional meet. Last year at Indiana, Viveros punched his first career national ticket and set what was then the Ole Miss record in the shot put at 19.10m/62-8 — still a career-best.
• Senior hurdler Ahmad Young Jr. is in the midst of the best season of his collegiate career in the 110-meter hurdles, entering the East Regional ranked No. 15 at his career-best 13.54 (+0.6) — the third-best time in school history.
• Senior pole vaulter Noah Mumme put on a show in the men’s pole vault competition at the SEC Championships, clearing an overall career-best 5.35m/17-06.50 to finish fourth overall. That final height puts him into a tie for No. 3 in Ole Miss history, and he soared to it in spectacular fashion, remaining clean over his first five attempted heights. Among entrants to the East Regional, Mumme ranks No. 16.
• Also qualifying in the pole vault is freshman Logan Kelly, who enters ranked No. 39 at his outdoor PR of 5.15m/16-10.75.
• Additional Rebel men in the first career regional meets include freshman Arvesta Troupe in the high jump (No. 30, 2.10m/6-10.75) and sophomore Iangelo Atkinstall-Daley in the triple jump (No. 31, 15.43m/50-07.50).

 Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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