The U.S. Olympic Trials for Track & Field finished up Sunday night after an electrifying 10 days of events. The trials, which took place at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, displayed the athletic abilities of Americans across the nation, including some Ole Miss Rebels. Thirteen Rebels, past and present, competed in Eugene alongside Ole Miss volunteer coach Jessica Ramsey for a top-three qualifying spot in their events to head to Tokyo.
Day one began with Shannon Ray representing UM in the first round of the women’s 100-meter dash. Sam Kendricks, an Oxford native and bronze medalist in 2016, flew past the men’s pole vault qualifying round, while Isiah Young moved on in the men’s 100-meter dash on day two. Young was the only Rebel competing on day three, where he advanced to the 100-meter semifinal and narrowly missed a qualifying time for the finals. Kendricks stamped his ticket to Tokyo on day four after placing second in the final, the most competitive men’s pole vaulting U.S. Olympic Trial in history.
The Rebels returned on day seven, with nine current and former Rebels competing alongside Ramsey. The day began with the women’s hammer as Jasmine Mitchell and Shey Taiwo threw finishing 22nd and 14th respectively. The Rebels had a stellar showing in the following events, with Brittney Reese blowing past the competition to place first in the women’s long jump qualifier, Waleed Suliman and Craig Engels finishing second and third respectively in the men’s 1500-meter to qualify for the semi-finals, while Robert Domanic finished 10th, and Brian Williams qualifying in the men’s discus.
However, the highlight of the day was Ramsey and Saunders’ first- and second-place finishes in the women’s shot put finals. Raven Saunders, donning her green hair and hulk mask, broke the U.S. Olympic Trials record with a 19.96m throw to catapult her to first place. Ramsey fired back in the following round, however, breaking Saunders’ new record by six inches with a 20.12m throw to set a new USOT record. Ramsey and Saunders will both be representing the US in Tokyo alongside Adelaide Aquilla from Ohio State.
Day eight was also a successful day for the Rebels, with Allen Gordon moving forward to the men’s long jump final, Young moving to the men’s 200-meter dash semifinals, and Suliman and Engels, whose mustache-and-mullet combo has taken social media by storm, advanced to the men’s 1500-meter final. Williams placed fourth in the men’s discus final, narrowly missing a bid to Tokyo.
Reese, an already three-time Olympian, dominated in the women’s long jump final on day nine, placing first and punching her ticket to Tokyo with a 7.13m jump. This is Reese’s 13th total U.S. long jump title and ninth outdoors, placing her third on the list of all-time U.S. outdoor women’s long jump champions. Isiah Young also had a stellar performance on day nine, automatically qualifying for the men’s 200-meter dash final.
Day 10 was a scorcher, with the thermometer in Eugene, Ore. reading at 110 degrees. The three Rebel events, the men’s long jump final, the men’s 1500m final, and the men’s 200m final, were all postponed to 8:30 PM, 9:40 PM, and 9:52 PM PST respectively. Allen Gordon finished ninth in the long jump final, while Young finished fifth within an incredibly fast 200m final. The men’s 1500m final was a whirlwind for the Rebels, with Suliman placing 11th and Engles placing 4th. The winner of the event final, Cole Hocker of Oregon, has not met the Olympic Standard time for the 1500m. This could result in Engles taking the third spot to Tokyo, but Hocker’s first-place finish and his world ranking score will most likely secure him the spot.
Four of the 14 Ole Miss-affiliated competitors will head to Tokyo in less than a month to represent the U.S. and Oxford on the world’s stage. More Rebels, however, will be representing other nations. UM alum and All-American Sean Tobin will be representing Ireland in the 5K in Tokyo while Mario Garcia Romo, a junior and 2021 fifth-place finisher at the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships, will be representing Spain in the 1500m.