Burke Alum Raven Saunders Breaks Record, Wins Title At NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships

Raven Saunders during the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Friday, March 10, 2017 at Rhonda and Frosty Gilliam Jr. Indoor Track Stadium in College Station, Texas. (UAA Communications, photo by Tim Casey)

Staff Reports – The accolades keep rolling in for former Burke High Track & Field star Raven Saunders. After breaking her own collegiate indoor shot put record and winning the 2017 national title on Monday, Saunders was named a First Team All-American for her performance in College Station, Texas at the NCAA Championships last weekend.

Known as “Hulk” by her peers, the Ole Miss Rebel saved her best throw for her final attempt as she hurled a toss of 19.56m/64-2.25 shattering the record she set last year of 19.23m/63-1.25. It was the best throw in the world this year as she became the first Rebel to win a national shot put title.

Saunders spoke with Ole Miss Sports after her performance. “I knew throughout the season leading up to this meet, I knew there was a big throw coming. I knew it was just a matter of just setting up my technique and going after it,” she said. “Coming into the last throw, I had nothing to lose so I just went after it.”

Second Year Head Coach Connie Price-Smith believes the future is bright for her Shot Put champion. “I tell everybody, I don’t know what her ceiling is, so it’s fun every time she exceeds her best mark, because it just proves that I really don’t know where it’s going to stop. It’s really special,” she said to Ole Miss Sports.

Saunders efforts at the championships moves her up to No. 4 in indoor history among U.S. women while setting the NCAA indoor meet record as well as the Texas A&M facility record. Her career accomplishments are out of this world for a junior with one year left to dominate the field.

A list of a few of her awards are below:

• 6x All-American (at Ole Miss, 2 at Southern Illinois) 
• 3x indoor shot put
• 1x indoor weight throw 
• 2x outdoor shot put
• Placed fifth in the women’s shot put at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
• 3-time SEC Champion
• 2016 Bowerman Award Finalist
• Collegiate record holder, outdoor shot put (19.33m/63-5)
• Collegiate record holder, indoor shot put (19.56m/64-2.25)
• Finished first in 15 of 17 shot put competitions in 2016
• Broke a meet record 10 times
• Facility record seven times
• School record six times
• SEC record five times
• NCAA record twice in the shot put
• Produced the 10 farthest shot puts by an NCAA woman in 2016
• Achieved the best shot put series by any woman in NCAA history – 18.31, 17.98, 18.04, 19.20 (fourth-best in NCAA history), 18.10, 19.56

Next up for Saunders is the 2017 outdoor season which is less than two weeks away. Ole Miss will host the Joe Walker Invitation March 24-25 welcoming 15 visiting teams to their newly renovated track & field complex.

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