AUSTIN, Texas (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – Ole Miss track & field sophomore John Rivera Jr. led the Rebels at Day One of the NCAA Outdoor Championships on Wednesday, earning Second-Team All-American honors with a 13th-place finish in the men’s 800-meter.
Rivera – a native of Bradenton, Florida – ran the third-fastest first 400 in his heat, but wound up finishing sixth in Heat Three at 1:49.03. He would have needed to better his career-best of 1:48.39 by nearly a full second to snag one of the time qualifier spots to Friday’s final, the last one of which clocked in at 1:47.46 by Texas Tech senior Vincent Crisp.
His race marks the end of another solid year at Ole Miss for Rivera, who moved up to 11th on the all-time list with his career-best in the 800 while also scoring in the event at both the SEC Indoor (seventh) and SEC Outdoor (fifth) meets.
Sophomore Waleed Suliman (18th, 3:48.02) and freshman Dalton Hengst (21st, 3:48.83) will come home with Honorable Mention All-American status after running in the men’s 1500-meter semifinals on Wednesday. Suliman was near the lead for the first 1100 meters of the race, but a surge led by a 53.62 from Arizona State senior William Paulson – who won the heat at 3:45.82 – eventually took control of the race as Suliman fell off the pace.
The race concludes two stellar seasons by Suliman and Hengst, who were both part of the SEC cross country team title in the fall in addition to several key accomplishments during the indoor and outdoor seasons – such as Suliman sweeping both the SEC mile and 1500-meter titles and Hengst being named SEC Men’s Co-Freshman Runner of the Year outdoors.
Sophomore Allen Gordon was the final competitor for Ole Miss on Wednesday, taking home Honorable Mention honors in the men’s long jump in 17th place at 7.61m (24-11.75). It was a historic long jump competition, as five jumpers were at or beyond the eight-meter mark – the most at the national meet since 1992.
Women’s competition begins on Thursday, with the Rebel women’s 4x100-meter relay of Kelly Rowe, Jayda Eckford, Kaira Simmons and Brandee Presley kicking things off at 7:02 p.m. CT live on ESPNU.
Men’s Second-Team All-Americans
John Rivera Jr. – 800-Meter, 13th Place
Men’s Honorable Mention All-Americans
Allen Gordon – Long Jump, 17th Place
Waleed Suliman – 1500-Meter, 18th Place
Dalton Hengst – 1500-Meter, 21st Place