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Ole Miss track and field heads into Indoor Championships with opportunities to impress

The women enter the meet ranked No. 22 nationally!

Russell James - Ole Miss Athletics

After the conclusion of the regular season and SEC Championship, Ole Miss women’s track and field will be one of the 18 schools competing for a national title at the NCAA Indoor Championships, which will be held March 13-14 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While the women compete as a team, eight total representatives from both the men’s and women’s teams will compete in the individual event competitions at the meet.

For the fourth time under head coach Connie Price-Smith, who took over the combined program in 2015, the women’s team is ranked within the top-25 heading into the championship meet, entering the weekend at No. 22. The USTFCCCA’s National Rating Index uses an algorithm that assigns a point value to individual performances that contribute to a final team total.

This season, the majority of the Rebels’ points have come in the weight throw, accounting for 29.44 of Ole Miss’ 45.41 points. SEC Champion Shey Taiwo is leading the charge, followed by Jasmine Mitchell, a silver medalist at the SEC meet. Taiwo is ranked No. 4 nationally, while Mitchell is No. 7 and Deborah Bulai is No. 13.

On the track, sophomore sprinter Brandee Presley became the first Rebel to break 7.20 seconds in the 60-meter dash, and ranks No. 7 in the nation with a time of 7.18 seconds. However, her number was posted in the first meet of 2020 and hasn’t been matched, so Presely will need to find her stride from early in the year and show out at the NCAA meet.

Fellow sophomore Jayda Eckford has also impressed this season and broke an Ole Miss record at the SEC meet with a time of 23.18 seconds in the 200-meter dash.

Eckford holds the No. 12 national ranking in the event, and will need to post a similar number in the final meet for the Rebels to have a chance at cracking the top 20.

Each of the five women will also compete in the individual portion of the meet. On the men’s side, a trio of juniors qualified for individual competitions for the second time in their careers. Waleed Suliman began his season with a fifth-best time among qualifiers in the mile, but has not matched it since.

His 3:57.03 time came during the regular season, where he runs multiple events in each meet. Perhaps with the time off and a singular focus, his legs will be as fresh as they were to begin the indoor season. Suliman will need to run a personal-best to have a shot to medal.

Joining him are John Rivera Jr. who enters with the No. 10 time in the 800-meter with a career-best 1:48.13, and Allen Gordon who cleared 7.83m in the long jump in January which finished No. 12 at season’s end.

All of this weekend’s meet will be available on the ESPN networks and WatchESPN. The full schedule of events is as follows: