School-Record 43 Entries to NCAA East Regional for Ole Miss Track & Field
Published 9:00 am Sunday, May 23, 2021
OXFORD, Miss. – Ole Miss track & field will send its largest delegation to the regional meet in program history when 34 Rebel student-athletes will represent Ole Miss in 43 events at the 2021 NCAA East Region Preliminary Round Championships, this year held at the University of North Florida on May 26-29.
The Rebel women led the way with 26 entries from 19 athletes, while the Rebel men tallied 17 entries among 15 athletes. Among those are a total of 15 Ole Miss student-athletes competing in their first regional meet (11 women, four men). Eight Rebels will be doubling (seven women), with four set for the elusive triple: Jalani Davis and Jasmine Mitchell on the women’s side across the shot put, discus and hammer; Brandee Presley in the women’s 4×100-meter relay, 100-meter and 200-meter dashes; and Allen Gordon across the men’s high jump, long jump and triple jump.
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 on 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 finalists in each event at each regional meet advance to the NCAA Outdoor Championships, which this year returns to the University of Oregon and the newly renovated Hayward Field on June 9-12. This year, both regional meets were modified to mirror the four-day format of the national meet to help space out events amid the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.
The 43 total entries for Ole Miss this year shatters the previous record of 34 set by the Rebels in 2017. In six years at Ole Miss, head coach Connie Price-Smith has averaged 31.2 athletes and 34.4 entries at the regional meet, and from there she has sent an average of 11.5 athletes and 9.8 entries to the national meet. In her Ole Miss tenure, she has mentored two NCAA Outdoor Champions (Raven Saunders, shot put, 2016; Janeah Stewart, hammer, 2018), 40 outdoor First or Second-Team All-Americans (26 women, 14 men) and brought the Rebels three national top-25 team finishes outdoors – with the Rebel men tying for 14th in 2017 and the women taking 20th in 2018 and 22nd in 2016.
The Rebel throwers lead the way on the women’s side with the top three qualifying marks and 10 total entries. SEC silver medalist and sophomore Jalani Davis leads all Ole Miss women with the No. 5 mark in the shot put at her conference runner-up PR of 17.52m (57-05.75) – the third-best throw in school history. Davis will be one of two Rebel women’s throwers attempting to triple in Jacksonville, as she is also qualified in the hammer (15th, 64.64m/212-01) and discus (34th, 51.92m/170-04). The other is fellow sophomore and All-American Jasmine Mitchell, who is qualified in the hammer (sixth, 66.37m/217-09), shot put (22nd, 16.31m/53-06.25) and discus (41st, 51.26m/168-02).
SEC discus champion Tedreauna Britt makes a return trip to the regional meet, this year doubling in the discus (15th, 54.51m/178-10) and shot put (30th, 16.10m/52-10.00). All-American Shey Taiwo enters with an East Region top-10 qualifying mark in the hammer (seventh, 66.35m/217-08), and she will be joined in the hammer by Deborah Bulai (43rd, 58.99m/193-06).
Sophomore and SEC All-Newcomer member Lyndsey Reed will enter her first NCAA East Regional ranked within the top-10 as well, sitting at No. 7 in the pole vault at her career-best height of 4.28m (14-00.50) – the second-best in Ole Miss history. SEC All-Freshman honoree Samara McConnell will join her teammate in the pole vault to give the Rebels a one-two punch, entering ranked No. 18 at her PR height of 4.19m (13-09.00).
The Ole Miss women’s 4×100-meter relay team of Olivia Womack, Brandee Presley, Jayda Eckford, Toni Glatz and alternate Kieshonna Brooks enter with the 15th-best seed time at their season-best 44.66. Ole Miss has qualified for the national meet in the women’s 4×100-meter relay in each of the last five outdoor seasons.
Brooks, Eckford and Presley will all pull double duty in Jacksonville, and in the case of Brooks, she could be pulling triple duty if her number is called on the 4×100-meter relay. Brooks will be looking to avenge two narrow misses on qualifying for the national meet in 2019 in the 100-meter hurdles and long jump, this year entering ranked 34th in the long jump (6.21m/20-04.50) and 36th in the hurdles (13.42).
Presley is no stranger to punching her ticket to the NCAA Championships, and will look to do so in the 100-meter dash (22nd, 11.34) and 200-meter dash (23rd, 23.40) aside from her duties on the Rebel relay team. Presley outperformed the formchart in a big way as a freshman in 2019, qualifying in the 100-meter dash before a Second-Team All-American finish and a blistering summer that saw her run 11.19 en route to two medals as part of Team USA at the Pan-American U20 games.
Eckford was also excellent at this meet as a freshman two years ago, punching her ticket to Austin in the 200-meter dash before a fast summer of her own that saw her win silver at the Pan-Am U20 Games. Eckford snagged the 47th qualifying spot this year at her season-best time of 23.81.
The remaining eight women’s entries for the Rebels all come from the distance squad. Sophomore newcomer and SEC scorer Sintayehu Vissa leads the way with the 17th-ranked seed time in the 800-meter (2:05.01), while SEC bronze medalist Clio Ozanne-Jaques returns to the regional meet with a top-20 time of her own in the 10K (19th, 33:44.78). Victoria Simmons will join Ozanne-Jaques in that 10K race, owning the No. 43 time in the event at 34:32.60 for her second career trip to the East Regional.
Elkin will attempt a 1500-5K double, entering the meet ranked 24th in the 1500-meter (4:18.31) and 27th in the 5K at her school-record 16:01.34. She won’t be alone in that 1500-meter race, though, as teammates Loral Winn (26th, 4:19.00) and Skylar Boogerd (44th, 4:22.36) will also run. Newcomer Kristel van den Berg qualified in her first outdoor season as a Rebel in the 3000-meter steeplechase, entering ranked 38th at 10:17.46.
It’s the distance squad who leads the way on the men’s side, with eight total entries – including five that rest within that top-12 qualifying position entering the meet.
All-American senior Waleed Suliman holds the top-ranked entry for the Rebels with his U.S. Olympic Trials standard of 3:36.53 in the 1500-meter, which rests as the No. 3 time in the East Region. Suliman was also qualified in the 800-meter at his career-best 1:47.00, but was scratched. Suliman was the first American this outdoor season to break 1:47 in the 800-meter and 3:37 in the 1500-meter.
Suliman will have plenty of support in that 1500-meter race, as he will be joined by Mario Garcia Romo (fourth, 3:37.17), Cade Bethmann (17th, 3:41.96), Michael Coccia (27th, 3:43.19) and Dalton Hengst (41st, 3:44.02).
Ole Miss will be just as deep in the 800-meter, with first-time regional qualifier Baylor Franklin holding the top time for the Rebels in sixth at 1:47.55. Joining him will be All-Americans John Rivera Jr. (ninth, 1:48.12) and Everett Smulders (12th, 1:48.31). Both Rivera and Smulders have experience at the national meet, with Rivera earning Second-Team All-American status in the 800 at Austin in 2019 and Smulders taking Honorable Mention in Eugene back in 2018.
All-American senior Allen Gordon will attempt to triple across his three main jumping events. He sits eighth in the long jump and 11th in the high jump at his career-best leaps of 7.91m/25-11.50 (+2.6) and 2.18m/7-01.75, respectively, but late in the outdoor season Gordon started to climb the triple jump lists and wound up with the No. 22 leap in the East Region at his PR of 15.71m/51-06.50 (+3.7). Gordon is the only jumper in the NCAA this season to have leapt 7’ 1.75” in the high jump, 25’ 11.50” in the long jump and 51’ 6.50” in the triple jump. Gordon is no stranger to the national meet, qualifying twice indoors and once outdoors in 2019.
Joseph Benedetto returns to the East Regional in the hammer at his Ole Miss No. 2 toss of 65.95m/216-04, which will sit No. 20 on the East list. Sophomore Daniel Viveros, meanwhile, will throw in his first regional meet in the shot put (31st, 18.38m/60-03.75).
Ole Miss pole vault duo of Peyton Weissmann (22nd, 5.20m/17-00.75) and Cole Colozzo (39th, 5.10m/16-08.75) return to the regional meet as well, as does Kenney Broadnax in the 110-meter hurdles (24th, 13.88). Making his first trip is fellow sprinter Elijah Dryer, who got in with the 38th-fastest 200-meter dash time of 20.87 (+1.7). Dryer ran that time at the SEC Outdoor Championships, where he became the first Rebel to score in an SEC 200-meter final since Olympian Isiah Young won the 2013 title.
Competition runs from May 26-29 at the University of North Florida.
Rebel Women’s Qualifiers (26 entries, 19 athletes):
5. Jalani Davis – Shot Put – 17.52m/57-05.75
6. Jasmine Mitchell – Hammer – 66.37m/217-09
7. Lyndsey Reed – Pole Vault – 4.28m/14-00.50
7. Shey Taiwo – Hammer – 66.35m/217-08
15. Tedreauna Britt – Discus – 54.51m/178-10
15. Jalani Davis – Hammer – 64.64m/212-01
15. 4×100-Meter Relay (Womack, Presley, Eckford, Glatz, Brooks) – 44.66
17. Sintayehu Vissa – 800-Meter – 2:05.01
18. Samara McConnell – Pole Vault – 4.19m/13-09.00
19. Clio Ozanne-Jaques – 10K – 33:44.78
22. Jasmine Mitchell – Shot Put – 16.31m/53-06.25
22. Brandee Presley – 100-Meter Dash – 11.34 (+2.7)
23. Brandee Presley – 200-Meter Dash – 23.40 (+1.3)
24. Anna Elkin – 1500-Meter – 4:18.31
26. Loral Winn – 1500-Meter – 4:19.00
27. Anna Elkin – 5K – 16:01.34
30. Tedreauna Britt – Shot Put – 16.10m/52-10.00
34. Jalani Davis – Discus – 51.92m/170-04
34. Kieshonna Brooks – Long Jump – 6.21m/20-04.50 (+1.9)
36. Kieshonna Brooks – 100-Meter Hurdles – 13.42 (+2.8)
38. Kristel van den Berg – 3000-Meter Steeplechase – 10:17.46
41. Jasmine Mitchell – Discus – 51.26m/168-02
43. Deborah Bulai – Hammer – 58.99m/193-06
43. Victoria Simmons – 10K – 34:32.60
44. Skylar Boogerd – 1500-Meter – 4:22.36
47. Jayda Eckford – 200-Meter Dash – 23.81 (+0.0)
Rebel Men’s Qualifiers (17 entries, 15 athletes):
3. Waleed Suliman – 1500-Meter – 3:36.53
4. Mario Garcia Romo – 1500-Meter – 3:37.17
6. Baylor Franklin – 800-Meter – 1:47.55
8. Allen Gordon – Long Jump – 7.91m/25-11.50 (+2.6)
9. John Rivera Jr. – 800-Meter – 1:48.12
11. Allen Gordon – High Jump – 2.18m/7-01.75
12. Everett Smulders – 800-Meter – 1:48.31
17. Cade Bethmann – 1500-Meter – 3:41.96
20. Joseph Benedetto – Hammer – 65.95m/216-04
22. Allen Gordon – Triple Jump – 15.71m/51-06.50 (+3.7)
22. Peyton Weissmann – Pole Vault – 5.20m/17-00.75
24. Kenney Broadnax – 110-Meter Hurdles – 13.88 (+1.1)
27. Michael Coccia – 1500-Meter – 3:43.19
31. Daniel Viveros – Shot Put – 18.38m/60-03.75
38. Elijah Dryer – 200-Meter Dash – 20.87 (+1.7)
39. Cole Colozzo – Pole Vault – 5.10m/16-08.75
41. Dalton Hengst – 1500-Meter – 3:44.02
Price-Smith Career Regional Qualifiers Under Current Format (since 2010)
260 athletes (113 men, 147 women) | 317 entries (130 men, 187 women)
2021: (at Ole Miss): 34 athletes (15 men, 19 women) | 43 entries (17 men, 26 women)
2020: N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)
2019 (at Ole Miss): 29 athletes (13 men, 16 women) | 32 entries (14 men, 18 women)
2018 (at Ole Miss): 29 athletes (13 men, 16 women) | 30 entries (15 men, 15 women)
2017 (at Ole Miss): 32 athletes (10 men, 22 women) | 34 entries (11 men, 23 women)
2016 (at Ole Miss): 32 athletes (17 men, 15 women) | 33 entries (17 men, 16 women)
2015 (at SIU): 19 athletes (10 men, 9 women) | 26 entries (13 men, 13 women)
2014 (at SIU): 13 athletes (6 men, 7 women) | 17 entries (9 men, 8 women)
2013 (at SIU): 13 athletes (5 men, 8 women) | 18 entries (6 men, 12 women)
2012 (at SIU): 15 athletes (7 men, 8 women) | 20 entries (7 men, 13 women)
2011 (at SIU): 17 athletes (6 men, 11 women) | 24 entries (7 men, 17 women)
2010 (at SIU): 27 athletes (11 men, 16 women) | 40 entries (14 men, 26 women)
Price-Smith Career Outdoor National Qualifiers (as a combined head coach)
94 athletes (41 men, 53 women) | 99 entries (41 men, 58 women)
2020: N/A (canceled due to COVID-19)
2019 (at Ole Miss): 10 athletes (4 men, 6 women) | 9 entries (4 men, 5 women)
2018 (at Ole Miss): 12 athletes (5 men, 7 women) | 10 entries (5 men, 5 women)
2017 (at Ole Miss): 11 athletes (4 men, 7 women) | 10 entries (4 men, 6 women)
2016 (at Ole Miss): 13 athletes (7 men, 6 women) | 10 entries (6 men, 4 women)
2015 (at SIU): 4 athletes (2 men, 2 women) | 4 entries (2 men, 2 women)
2014 (at SIU): 5 athletes (3 men, 2 women) | 6 entries (3 men, 3 women)
2013 (at SIU): 3 athletes (1 man, 2 women) | 4 entries (1 man, 3 women)
2012 (at SIU): 7 athletes (3 men, 4 women) | 10 entries (4 men, 6 women)
2011 (at SIU): 5 athletes (3 men, 2 women) | 7 entries (3 men, 4 women)
2010 (at SIU): 7 athletes (3 men, 4 women) | 9 entries (3 men, 6 women)
2009 (at SIU): 4 athletes (1 man, 3 women) | 4 entries (1 man, 3 women)
2008 (at SIU): 3 athletes (1 man, 2 women) | 3 entries (1 man, 2 women)
2007 (at SIU): 2 athletes (1 man, 1 woman) | 3 entries (1 man, 2 women)
2006 (at SIU): 5 athletes (2 men, 3 women) | 6 entries (2 men, 4 women)
2005 (at SIU): 3 athletes (1 man, 2 women) | 4 entries (1 man, 3 women)