Burke High School graduate Raven Saunders came up short in her bid for a third straight NCAA shot put title on Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.
Saunders, who won the indoor and outdoor titles last year as a freshman, finished 11th in the NCAA Indoor Championships. The Ole Miss sophomore threw 54-feet, 5-1/4 inches on her first throw, then fouled on her next two attempts, failing to advance to the nine-woman final.
Saunders, who holds the NCAA women’s record at 63-11/4, had recorded the 12 best throws during the NCAA indoor season before Saturday’s championship meet.
She will now compete for the SEC and NCAA outdoor titles before the Olympic Trials in July.
Ole Miss coach Connie Price-Smith said the disappointment will only add to Saunders’ drive to succeed.
“Every good athlete once in their career is going to fall,” she said. “It’s how you bounce back from that that’s going to make you a good athlete or a great athlete. I think she’s going to come back and be strong outdoors because she doesn’t like that feeling. Nobody likes that feeling.
“I said to her, ‘This is a learning experience for you. Now go back and figure out what you need to do to get better and make outdoors what it should be.’ And she will. I know she will because she has that drive and that motivation.”