June 30, 2016
The U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field start this Friday in Eugene, Ore. at Hayward Field. In each event the top three finishers will make the U.S. squad for Rio. Athletes either professional or collegiate who meet qualifying standards for the U.S. trials will take part in the event.
There are six collegiate athletes from Mississippi universities who will be competing at the trails. Two athletes from Mississippi State University and four athletes from the University of Mississippi will compete.
Those who finish in the top three must meet the Olympic qualifying standards to be placed on the Olympic team. The qualifying standards for the U.S. and Olympics are slightly different.
Two Rebels are in the trials for the men’s 800-meters. Both Craig Engels and Holland Sherrer will take part in the 800-meter and will have to reach the time of 1:46.00 to earn a spot on the Olympic team. Neither has run that fast, with Engels’ best time 1:46.13 and Sherrer’s best time is 1:47.13. Both will have to run for new personal bests just to have a shot at making the final or the Olympic team.
The last Rebel on the track will be Michael Ebb in the men’s 3000-meter steeplechase. An Olympic qualifying time in the steeplechase is 8:30.00. Ebb’s best time has been 8:34.13, which he ran at the NCAA Track and Field finals. He will have to break a new personal best to make the team or qualify for the finals in Oregon.
One Rebel who could end up heading to Rio is Raven Saunders in the shot put. She won the women’s NCAA title in this event and broke records with her throw of more than 19 meters. Saunders already has thrown better than the Olympic qualifying mark of 17.60 meters. She has the fifth-best throw in the world outdoors this year with a mark of 19.33 meters.
Both Bulldogs will have a good shot at making the Olympic team.
In the men’s javelin, Curtis Thompson won the men’s NCAA title with a throw of 77.69 meters. A throw of 83.00 meters is the Olympic standard. Thompson’s best throw came earlier this year at 81.03 meters.
He will need a new personal best to make the Olympics, but his best throw ranks 44th in the world this year. Only one American, Cyrus Hostetler, has a better throw at 83.83 meters.
Erica Bougard finished second in the heptathlon at the NCAA finals. She will need 6,200 points to meet the Olympic standard. Her best performance came in earlier this year when she put up 6,170 points, which places her at 18th in the world this year. Two Americans, Kendell Williams and Barbara Nwaba, have put up better numbers with 6,225 and 6,360 points, respectively. Bougard could make the team if she can raise her best point total just slightly.
The track and field trials are July 1-10 and can be seen on NBC, NBC Sports and streamed live on the NBC sports app.