With the return of speedy veterans and fresh help from talented newcomers, Mississippi State track and field claims eight athletes ranked among the Top 20 nationally in their individual events.
The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Poll released on Tuesday ranks junior Marcus Jackson as the third-best high jumper in the NCAA. Jackson has seen a successful outdoor season, following his personal-best performance of 7-06.00 to finish as the runner-up at NCAA Indoors in March. The Carrollton, Miss. native cleared his best height of the outdoor campaign at the Texas Relays last month, jumping 7-05.25.
While MSU dropped out of this week's Top 25 team rankings, seven other Bulldogs join Jackson at the top of the leaderboard with outstanding performances. Tavaris Tate, Brandon McBride, Daundre Barnaby and Randy Patterson comprise the Maroon and White's 4x400-meter relay team, which ranks sixth in the country. The foursome posted their best time of the season at the Texas Relays, clocking a 3:05.35.
Barnaby, who competed in the 2012 London Olympics, also ranks No. 20 in the 400-meter dash with a time of 46.32. Nathan Arnett (13.94) and freshman Scottie Hearns (51.27) earned spots in 16th and 17th, respectively, in the 400-meter hurdles.
Rounding out the Top 15 triple jumpers includes junior Jason Harper, who posted his season-best of 51-06.50 at the Texas Relays.
MSU will look for these leaders to make dominant showings as the squad travels to Philadelphia this week for the 119th Penn Relays on April 25-27.
Mississippi State has placed five players on the 2012-13 Winter SEC Academic Honor Roll, the league announced Tuesday afternoon.
Vic Schaefer's Mississippi State women's squad placed a pair on the list, juniors Brittany Young and Candace Foster earning the accolade, while Rick Ray's team had three - Colin Borchert, Baxter Price and Tyson Cunningham.
"We're very proud of Brittany and Candace. They have a tremendous work ethic in the gym, and this award confirms that they also have a tremendous work ethic in the classroom," Schaefer said. "This award shows a tremendous maturity level and understanding of what it takes to be a true student-athlete. We're proud of them, and hope in the future that we have more of our players on this list."
Young, a communication major, collected her third honor roll selection. The Birmingham native will graduate in May, earning her degree in just three years.
Foster, a junior English major from Jackson, was named to the honor roll for the second-consecutive year.
Price, a senior from Brandon, Miss., will graduate next year, while juniors Cunningham, a music major from Columbus, Miss., and Borchert, a human sciences major from Phoenix, will graduate next May.
"What these guys accomplished in the classroom is a testament to their hard work," Ray said. "A lot is asked of them from a basketball standpoint, and to be able to manage those responsibilities and their studies speaks highly of them as individuals. Colin, Tyson and Baxter personify the meaning of student-athlete."
Wrapping up its 2013 non-conference home slate, the Mississippi State softball team (30-16) will host Mississippi Valley State (18-26) Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the MSU Softball Stadium. Admission is free, but for those who cannot attend, free live audio as well as video will be available online to HailStateTV subscribers (www.HailState.com/hstvlive).
Starkville's Team has won 14-straight games in the series and owns a 22-1 record all-time against Wednesday's opponent. Last year, the Bulldogs squeaked by twice to sweep the season series, pulling out a 3-2 win in Starkville on Feb. 19, 2012, before escaping Itta Bena with a 4-3 win in eight innings on March 28, 2012.
Following MSU's second-straight sweep of arch-rival Ole Miss April 12-14, the team improved to a perfect 12-0 under Head Coach Vann Stuedeman against in-state opponents. In two seasons under Stuedeman, the Bulldogs have defeated Ole Miss six times, Jackson State three times, Southern Miss once and the Delta Devils from Mississippi Valley State twice.
Stuedeman is also looking to continue her non-conference dominance. Stuedeman has won 36 of her last 43 games outside of the SEC (.837), including a 23-5 mark this season. From Feb. 23-March 15, 2013, MSU rode a 13-game non-conference winning streak, tying for the third-longest such streak in school history.
Mississippi State is ranked 25th in the latest RPI rankings, its highest RPI rating in two seasons under Stuedeman. The high ranking is thanks in part to three wins against top-10 teams, with five of its nine losses against top-15 squads coming by just one run.
Wednesday's game at the Dawg Diamond is also 'Beach Night at the Park.' The team will hand out 600 Maroon and White leis to the crowd to correspond with beach-themed contests and giveaways throughout the game.
For live in-game updates of the game, follow the program on Twitter at @MStateSB. For pictures, like the team on Facebook at Facebook.com/MStateSB and visit the team's Instagram account at MStateSB. For pregame and postgame video, check out MSU's official YouTube channel at YouTube.com/HailState.
Sophomore relief ace Jonathan Holder has been named to the midseason watch list for the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association's Stopper of the Year Award, the NCBWA announced Tuesday.
Holder (1-0, 1.61), from Gulfport, Miss., shares the SEC lead with 12 saves and in two seasons has piled up 21 saves, tying for third-most in Mississippi State history.
He one of eight relief specialists from the SEC included on the 51-player mid-season watch list.
The national saves leader at the end of the 2013 regular season the national saves leader and four other bullpen aces will be announced June 5 as finalists for the award, with the winner announced during the NCAA College World Series in Omaha.
Holder has recorded 52 strikeouts in 28 innings and begins the week with a 3-1 career record and a 0.96 earned run average in 43 relief appearances.
Following two victories in their last three matches of the 2013 season, Mississippi State's women's tennis team jumped into the latest edition of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association national rankings Tuesday, coming in at No. 74. It is State's first national ranking since April 2012.
The Lady Bulldogs defeated top 60-ranked Southeastern Conference foe Missouri twice in the span of four days last week to spur the jump. That included a win in the first round of the SEC Championship, which ended an eight-match skid in the annual tournament for MSU.
Individually, MSU also has representation in Tuesday's singles and doubles rankings. In singles, true freshman Georgiana Patrasc is ranked 116th in the country, the highest mark of her rookie campaign. In doubles, junior Alexandra Perper and sophomore Naomi Tran are ranked 69th.
"I am proud of the progress our girls made this season," said head coach Daryl Greenan. "We were competing the hardest, and came up with our best wins, late in the year. Georgiana, Alexandra and Naomi's national rankings are a reflection of a lot of hard work and progress we are making."