A Q&A With Steve Dudley

Mississippi State track and field head coach Steve Dudley provides an update on the season to date.

Your team was ranked 10th in last week's poll. Is your team about where you expected it to be at this point of the season?
"I don't really have my own formula where we are or aren't going to be during the season."

A lot of your guys are ranked among the top 10 in their events. Talk about some of those guys.
"Of course there are a lot more track meets to be held but, as of right now, I believe we are 1, 2 and 8 in the 400, we are 2nd in the long jump, 4th in the 4x1, 2nd in the 4x4, we have a high jumper that is either 5th or 6th, and I believe we have a 100 meter guy who is either 8th or 9th. That makes you feel good because numbers-wise that is where we are right now. But at the end of the year you still have to line up against everybody else. And there are things that you have to persevere against and get it done."

Having so many guys who are ranked so high has to help your team as they head toward nationals at the end of the season
"They realize there has been four weeks of outdoor season. Then, all of sudden, you run a race and it is announced that it is the fastest time of the year. Yeah, that does help. That tells him that the workouts that he has been doing has prepared him for the moments that he has been in up to this point. But as a coach you can't let them dwell on that. You can't let them rest on their laurels. People are going to run faster from this point until nationals. You have to decide if you are going to be one of those that run faster."

Are there other programs that have 3 guys among the top 10 in a certain event like you do with your 400 meter guys?
"We are one that has three now but there may be some programs that haven't opened up their 400 meter guys yet. But for what our top two guys have run that is very solid. And they should run even faster."

It has to help your 400 meter guys to have three among the top 10 in the nation when they compete against each other in practice.
"It does but there are several programs that have a stable of 400 guys - Southern California, LSU, Texas A&M, Florida. They also have people they run against in practice. It still comes down to the individual. They have to make sure they are rested, make sure they do the things that will help them when they run.

"Like I tell our team, especially the men, during our meeting our competition right now is ourselves. It's not the other teams but ourselves. If we are not going the things that we should we doing, then we can expect to be hurt of sick down the road. That will affect the entire team."

How do you make sure they are doing the right things?
"You have to constantly be on them. I tell them during practice they need to stay hydrated. I also tell them they need to make sure they get enough sleep. But they also need to have personal responsibility. You should do the things you know you are supposed to do. You clean up after yourself, you don't slam doors. If you get suspended that is not being responsible. That doesn't just affect you but affects the entire team."

Going back to the subject of having ranked athletes on your team. Are there some guys on your team who you feel could wind up being ranked even higher than they currently are?
"We have two 400 hurdlers who are ranked ok but they are going to move up - Emanual Mayers and Nathan Arnett are going to move up. I feel like our 100 meters guy, D'Angelo Cherry, will move up. I feel that our 3rd 400 meters guy, Daundre Barnaby, is as talented, if not more talented, than the guys ranked ahead of him. I think he can move up as well."

If those guys do improve, then you are talking about doing really well in the nationals if everybody performs as expected.
"If we take care of our business and do what we are supposed to do, then good things will happen."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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