EUGENE, Ore. – The dynamic men’s athletics duo Ole Miss from Mario Garcia Romo and Walid Suliman hit their tickets for what is sure to be a wild final in the NCAA Men’s 1,500-meters after taking care of business on day one of the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships at Hayward Field on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, the weather was everywhere, cold and windy with periods of abundant sunshine swept away by torrential rains, only to be replaced again by the opening of the sky.
Both Rebels didn’t let their first run at the all-new Hayward Field deter them, competing in the fastest domestic semi-final in NCAA history to earn their spot in the final. Garcia Romo – the reigning SEC cross country champion – faced the toughest task of his race, having to keep pace with college record holder Yared Nuguse of Notre Dame and SEC champion Eliud Kipsang of ‘Alabama. Kipsang knocked him out, but not as fiercely as he did in the SEC preliminaries and finals, and Garcia Romo helped lead the chase pack throughout the race. Nuguse took the lead late via a final lap in 55.59 and set the fastest time in 3: 37.36, but Garcia Romo was not far behind, finishing with the second fastest time in 3: 37.59 after a dazzling 55.63 last 400 to him.
In the second inning, it was Suliman against Oregon rookie Cole Hocker from the pistol and until they crossed the line. The two were neck and neck until the very end, when Hocker created some separation in the final 200 yards to take the heat at 3: 38.34. Suliman – who divided 56.49 on his last lap – was second in 3: 38.92.
This is the first NCAA away final for Garcia Romo and Suliman, who put on a great indoor campaign this year in which they scored 14 combined points to contribute to the rebel men’s 10th place finish. This is the second time in school history that several rebel men have competed in the NCAA 1,500-meter final, joining the 2016 season when Robert Domanic (sixth) and Craig Engels (seventh) represented Ole Miss and scored. In addition, Ole Miss is the only school with several representatives in the final this year.
Allen Gordon opened the first of her two events at the national competition on Wednesday, finishing 11th in the long jump at 7.64m (25-00.75) and narrowly missing the final by less than two inches. For his efforts, Gordon earned second-team All-America status – his third this season and his first away from his career. Gordon will complete his double try on Friday in the men’s high jump final at 6:30 p.m. CT.
The men’s 800-meter duo Rebel Baylor franklin and John Rivera Jr. had a great season with second-team All-American finishes on Wednesday. Franklin and Rivera finished back to back, Franklin placing 13th in 1: 48.28 and Rivera 14th in 1: 48.45. The two would have had to run a new PR in order to have any chance of qualifying for the final qualifying slot, which went to Texas A&M’s Brandon Miller at 1: 47.50. Today’s races round off a strong 2021 seasons for the pair, with Franklin breaking the four-minute barrier in the indoor mile before finishing 12th in the 800m at the National Indoor Meet, and Rivera running the leg of 800 yards on the NCAA Finalist QNAA Men’s Rebel Distance Relay Team.
Kenney broadnax concluded his second outdoor season and comeback story with a 21st place finish and an All-American Honorable Mention in the 110-meter hurdles. Broadnax – who in January 2020 tore his Achilles before getting back in shape to qualify for this NCAA meeting – ran during the peak of the flood and placed 21st overall at 14.24 (+0, 2).
Speaking of rain, senior Cole colozzo took a tough break from what turned out to be his last encounter as a rebel. The men’s pole vault had just started when the first rain started to fall. The vaulting outfielder would eventually start and stop a total of three times over the next 45 minutes. Colozzo failed to cross the first bar of 5.15m / 16-10.75, despite two close tries in the rain on his second and third attempts. Wednesday concludes a successful career for Colozzo, which leaves Ole Miss as his fourth best outdoor and third indoor outfielder – as well as his first NCAA qualifier since Olympian Sam Kendricks won the 2014 NCAA title.
Next, the Rebel Women took to the stage on Day 2 of the 2021 NCAA Outdoor Championships, with the Women’s Hammer set to open the day at 3 p.m. CT.
Qualifications for the final of the first day
Mario Garcia Romo – 1500 meters men
Walid Suliman – 1500 meters men
Day 1 Second Team All-Americans
Allen Gordon – Men’s long jump, 11th place
Baylor franklin – 800 meters men, 13th place
John Rivera Jr. – 800 meters men, 14th place
Day One Honorable Mention All-Americans
Kenney broadnax – 110 meters hurdles men, 21st place
REBELS IN COMPETITION
Men’s 800 meters semi-finals
13. Baylor franklin – 1: 48.28
14. John Rivera Jr. – 1: 48.45
Men’s 1,500-meter semi-finals
2. Mario Garcia Romo – 3: 37.59 – QA
8. Walid Suliman – 3: 38.92 – QA
Men’s 110-meter hurdles semi-finals
21. Kenney broadnax – 14.24 (+0.2)
Pole vault men
NH Cole colozzo
Long jump men
11. Allen Gordon – 7.64 m / 25-00.75 (+1.9)