The 2015 year has been one for the books for Ole Miss athletics. Nearly every Rebel sports team finished their regular seasons with winning records. In this semester alone, six Ole Miss freshmen have been named SEC Freshman of the Week eight times in four different sports.
The first athlete to receive this honor was basketball standout A’Queen Hayes in January when she helped lead the Rebels to program-building wins over Florida and Alabama. She achieved her first career double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds against the Gators and added 10 more points to her total against the Crimson Tide. She was the first Ole Miss player to receive an SEC Freshman of the Week honor since 2010. Hayes averaged 7.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game this season.
Up next for the Rebels was women’s tennis star Arianne Hartono on February 18. Making her presence known on the court in both singles and doubles matches, she was named SEC Freshman of the Week after helping Ole Miss take victories over Tulane and William & Mary as the Rebels equaled their program’s best season start (8-1) since 1997.
Shortly after, Hartono received the honor again on March 11 after winning 4-0 in singles and doubles to help lead Ole Miss to back-to-back sweeps against Arkansas and Missouri. At that point in the season, the Rebels were 10-3 overall and were undefeated at home. They finished the regular season 15-10 as they enter the NCAA tournament.
On March 23, baseball’s Will Golsan got the honor after leading Ole Miss with a .389 average from the plate on the week, making it the Rebs’ first weekly accolade of the year. Golsan had three multi-hit games that week and scored fours runs as the team defeated then No. 1 ranked Florida, taking two out of three games against the Gators. The freshman infielder has 41 hits this season and 22 RBIs. The Rebels are preparing to take on Missouri this weekend.
Track and Field contributed their strong start in April. On April 7, New Orleans native Shannon Ray took the weekly title after finishing first and clocking the No. 2 time in school history in the women’s 100 meters at the Tiger Track Classic with a time of 11.41. This time put her in the position of the top-ranked freshman in the SEC and the No. 2 freshman overall in the country in the 100.
Just a week later, Ray’s teammate Dempsey McGuigan won Freshman of the Week after winning the Border Clash contest between Mississippi and Alabama with a hammer throw toss of 210-1. This competition was only his second college outdoor meet. Previously at the Tiger Track Classic, he set the school record in the hammer throw with 212-7 during his collegiate debut. He is currently ranked 14th in the NCAA and is second-best among freshmen after getting runner-up in his event at the Drake Relays with 214-0.
However, mid-distance champion Brooke Feldmeier couldn’t let her teammates have all of the spotlight. The past two weeks, Brooke has been honored with consecutive SEC Freshman of the Week honors. Feldmeier won the Drake Relays 800-meter title over the weekend with a time of 2:05.96- second-best of any NCAA woman last weekend. Her performance came one week after setting the school record with a 2:05.29 in Virginia. She is ranked 14th in the country and first in all freshmen outdoors.
Not only do these statistics show a reflection of the success of this year’s teams, but they validate the promising future of Ole Miss athletics. With plenty of time and room for improvement ahead of them, these young stars will have to maintain a constant hunger for excellence if they want to continue to shine in NCAA athletics. In just their first year, these Rebels have broken records and set high standards that rising teams will have to aim to achieve in the seasons to come.