Saunders Won Back-To-Back SP Titles, Set CR

Celebrating A Century of NCAA Track & Field Championships

Saunders Won Back-To-Back SP Titles, Set CR

June 9, 2016

“Records are going to get broken, but titles are forever.”

That’s a common refrain Raven Saunders heard from her coach Connie Price-Smith. 

Saunders doubled up on immortality in 2015 when she completed the indoor-outdoor sweep of the shot put as a freshman at Southern Illinois. She was just the third freshman in meet history to top the outdoor podium – joining Eileen Vanisi of Texas in 1991 and Jessica Cosby of UCLA in 2002 (Vanisi actually set a meet record 24 years prior in her first foray).

Fast forward one year and Saunders returned to the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships as the defending champion, but under a new banner. Saunders followed Price-Smith to Oxford, Mississippi, when the four-time Olympian took over at Ole Miss. 

To say Saunders had something to prove at Historic Hayward Field would be a massive understatement. Just a few months earlier, Saunders entered the NCAA Indoor Championships as the collegiate record holder, yet fouled twice after a subpar opening salvo and finished 12th

Spinning in a rain-soaked circle in Eugene, Oregon, Saunders fouled on her first attempt, hit a safe 17.30m (56-9¼) in Round 2 and then found her groove. Saunders went 18.30m (60-0½) in Round 3 and 18.31m (61-1) in Round 4. While both of those previous marks would have been enough to win her third NCAA crown by more than one foot, Saunders wasn’t done.

Saunders launched the shot 19.33m (63-5) in Round 5 to shatter the 33-year-old collegiate record of 18.99m (62-3¾) famously set by Meg Ritchie in 1983 and toppled the three-year-old meet record of 18.91m (62-0½) established by Tia Brooks of Oklahoma in 2013.

“It was really exciting to see her come in here and break the collegiate record at nationals,” Price-Smith said after the meet. “It doesn’t (usually) happen at nationals, but she’s been doing it and doing it in practices, so we’ve seen it. It’s nice that it actually came out and happened today. She’s been working really hard.”

posted: May 12, 2021
The NCAA's First Championships

The NCAA and collegiate track & field will mark a momentous milestone in the spring of 2021 -- the 100th anniversary of the NCAA Championships and with that, the NCAA Track & Field Championships. In June 1921, the University of Chicago hosted the first track & field championships in NCAA history.

This point can’t be emphasized enough: Not only was the event the first for NCAA track & field, but the first championships for any sport under the sponsorship of the NCAA.

To celebrate, over each of the next 365 days, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) will celebrate moments, student-athletes, and coaches that have made a century’s worth of championships special. From humble beginnings to important historical milestones to the modern-day, collegiate track & field has evolved with the American society.

The 2021 edition of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships begin with preliminary round action on May 27-29 in Jacksonville, Fla., and College Station, Texas. The championships final site and culmination of the celebration is slated for June 9-12, 2021 at the newly rebuilt Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

Memorable Moments
Reese Left Her Mark On NCAA LJ
June 12, 2008

Brittney Reese won the long jump at the 2008 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships with a mark of 6.93m (22-9). Reese missed the meet record by just 1cm (½ inch).

Tupuritis Shocked The Field In 1996
May 31, 1996

Einars Tupuritis won the 800 at the 1996 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships by 0.14 seconds! Turpiritis crossed the finish line in 1:45.08.

Ellis Sent USC To A Thrilling Victory
June 9, 2018

Kendall Ellis had a remarkable come-from-behind victory in the 4×400 relay at the 2018 NCAA DI Outdoor T&F Championships that sent Southern California to the meet title.