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Ole Miss shot putter Raven Saunders falls short of NCAA three-peat

Raven Saunders will have to wait until next year for a shot at another collegiate title.

Bidding for a third straight women’s outdoor shot put championship, Saunders finished fourth at the NCAA track and field championships Thursday at Oregon’s Hayward Field. The Ole Miss junior’s longest throw was 17.47 meters, well short of the all-time collegiate record of 19.56 she posted to win the NCAA indoor title earlier this season.

Saunders had distances farther than that but fouled on three straight throws, leaving Kent State’s Danniel Thomas to pull off the upset. Thomas’ winning throw of 19.15m set a meet record and was second only to Saunders as the farthest collegiate throw of all-time.

Former Rice standout Regina Cavanaugh (1985-87) is still the only woman to ever win three consecutive NCAA outdoor titles in the shot put.

A six-time collegiate All-American, Saunders, in her second season with the Rebels after transferring from Southern Illinois following her freshman season, has won four NCAA shot put titles (two indoor, two outdoor). She swept the Southeastern Conference indoor and outdoor titles this season.

Saunders’ teammate, Janeah Stewart, finished fifth in the shot put in her NCAA outdoor debut, recording a distance of 17.42m on her final attempt. Stewart also finished 10th in the hammer throw (63.3).

Ole Miss’ 4×100-meter relay team of Nicole Henderson, Shannon Ray, Deanna Tate and Breanna Tate finished 19th with a time of 45.12 seconds. Shelby Brown, also making her NCAA debut, finished 23rd in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:24.05.

Ole Miss is in 10th place with nine points after the first day of the women’s competition. The final day of the men’s competition is today.