Saunders sets national shot put record

Published 6:03 am Sunday, February 14, 2016


AMES, Iowa — The legend of shot putter Raven Saunders continues to grow.

Comeback NCAA titles were her specialty a year ago as a freshman at Southern Illinois. This year as a sophomore at Ole Miss, it’s all about rewriting the record books.

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With a fifth-attempt heave of 19.23 meters at the Iowa State Classic on Saturday, the native of Charleston, South Carolina, edged past the collegiate indoor record by the smallest of margins — only one centimeter separated Saunders’ winning mark from the former record of 19.22 meters set by Oklahoma’s Tia Brooks at the 2013 NCAA Championships.

Saturday’s competition was not nearly so close. She was victorious by nearly two meters over Kelsey Card of Wisconsin (17.32m/56-10). Card, a senior, was the runner-up to Saunders at NCAA Outdoors last season as Saunders won the event on her sixth and final throw.

Saunders now not only stands alone as the farthest shot putter in collegiate history — indoors or out — but she also stands among the best shot putters America has ever produced. Only four women have ever thrown farther during the indoor circuit in United States history: American indoor record-holder Jill Camarena-Williams, Michelle Carter, Ramona Pagel and Tressa Thompson.

The difference? Those women achieved those marks in the primes of their careers. At only 19 years of age, the best is presumably yet to come for Saunders.

On the absolute all-time U.S. list combining both the indoor and outdoor seasons, she ranks No. 7 with her coach, Connie Price-Smith, and Bonnie Dasse inserted into the list ahead of her.

Beyond just breaking the collegiate record, she made history in a couple other ways. Earlier in the competition in round three, Saunders became just the third woman in collegiate history to cross the 19-meter barrier with a heave of 19.02 meters.