News from MSU Media Relations--March 6

The latest sports news from the MSU Media Relations Department...Track & Field, Volleyball, Men's Tennis, Football, Women's Tennis and Men's Golf.

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State associate head coach Steve Dudley announced Monday the signing of six student-athletes for 2009. The six talented young distance runners will be eligible to compete in the 2009-10 season.

"All of these young men will be a great addition to both our cross country and track and field programs," Dudley said. "They are a very talented group, and we look forward to watching them improve within our program."

The 2009 signing class features some of the top distance runners from the states of Alabama, Ohio, Maryland and Texas.

2009 MSU Signing Class:

Kyle Balderson--Sherwood High School--Sandy Spring, Md.
"Kyle is a talented up and coming athlete that we look very much forward in watching improve within our program," Dudley said.

Henry Li--Seven Lakes High School--Katy, Texas
"We are really excited about Henry joining our program," Dudley said. "He is a talented athlete we look forward to watching improve within our program."

Nick Perkins--Hoover High School--Hoover, Ala.
"The addition of Nick brings our cross country program a tough, hard-nosed competitor that will make the adjustment of moving up to the 8K and 10K distances easier than most," Dudley said.

Chase Rathke--Seven Lakes High School--Katy, Texas--2008 Foot Locker Finalist
"We are really excited about having Chase join our cross country and track and field teams," assistant Coach Houston Franks said. "Each year there are only 40 high school athletes in the United States that qualify to compete for the Footlocker Cross Country Championship in San Diego, and this year Chase was one of those forty," added Franks. "I have not come across many high school athletes as driven and determined as Chase, and we expect he will be a great runner for us in both cross country and in track for years to come," Franks said.

Alexander Richter--Wallace State [AL] Community College--Cullman, Ala.
"I am looking forward in working with Alex due to his extreme devotion to hard work," Dudley said. "Alex is a very accomplished athlete that will bring a work ethic to our sprint group that will be hard to match."

Eric Schmidt--Centerville High School--Centerville, Ohio
"Eric is an extremely dedicated and a hard-working student/athlete that should have an immediate positive impact in our distance program," Dudley said.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State men's track and field team opens its 2009 season this weekend at the North Florida Spring Break Open Invitational.

The University of North Florida will be hosting the two-day meet in Jacksonville, Fla., which begins at noon on Friday and concludes on Saturday.

"We are going to dust away our cobwebs and try to earn qualifying marks at this weekend's meet," head coach Al Schmidt said. "We have a very promising sprint and multi group and looking forward to a great outdoor season."

Competing in the men's 4x100-meter relay, freshman sprinter D'Angelo Cherry is expected to have a good showing at this weekend's invitational. Cherry recently broke the American Junior Record at USATF Indoor Championships in the 60-meter dash with a time of 6.52 seconds.

"I am looking for all of my guys to get their feet wet and earn some NCAA regional qualifying marks this weekend." associate head coach Steve Dudley said.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State senior track and field standout Marrissa Harris has been named to the 2009 Indoor Track All-SEC Second Team, the league office announced Thursday.

The Memphis, Tenn., native finished the SEC Indoor Championship last weekend in Lexington, Ky., with a second-place finish in the pentathlon and fifth-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles. Harris scored a season best and NCAA provisional qualifying 3,945 points in the event. In the 60-meter hurdles she recorded a school record time 8.27 seconds in the preliminaries.

To complete her SEC Indoor Championship, Harris was a member of State's sixth-place distance medley relay team. She concludes her indoor season at the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships on March 13-14 in College Station, Texas.

The league office also announced Tennessee's Sarah Bowman as the SEC Female of the Year. Florida's Mariam Kevkhishvili was named Female Field Athletes of the Year. Rachel Laurent of LSU and Ellen Wortham of Tennessee were named Co-Female Freshman Field Athletes of the Year.

Tennessee's J.J. Clark was named Female Coach of the Year.


Volleyball
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's Volleyball Bulldogs launch a four-weekend spring schedule under new head volleyball coach Jenny Hazelwood this weekend when State travels to Oxford, Miss., to participate in the Ole Miss Spring Volleyball Tournament.

State meets Arkansas State at 11 a.m., host Ole Miss at 12 p.m. and Christian Brothers at 2 p.m. in Saturday's day-long event at the University of Mississippi.

"We are really looking forward to playing in our first spring tournament this weekend," said Hazelwood. "The team has come a long way through individual practices, and is continuing to improve in the team practices that began this week. We have a strong core group that will really take this program to the next level and represent Mississippi State is a proud manner."

Hazelwood, a native of Pearland, Texas, starred as a setter at Mississippi State from 1996 to 1999 and returned to her alma mater in January after having coached the past two seasons at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn.

MSU travels to Nashville, Tenn., for the Impact College Tournament March 28 and competes in the Alabama Spring Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala., Apr. 4 before entering the second annual SEC Coaches Beach Championships Apr. 18 in Sarasota, Fla.


Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team (4-2) will host a couple of Southeastern Conference matches this weekend to open the league season, with the first against the fifth-ranked Tennessee Volunteers (7-2) on Friday, March 6, at 2 p.m.. State will follow that with a Sunday, March 8, 1 p.m. match against the Georgia Bulldogs (11-1), who come to campus ranked fourth nationally.

MState is coming off an off week, but prior to that, the Bulldogs were able to notch three straight wins at home against UAB, Memphis and Georgia State.

"We are really excited to begin the conference season with two of the top teams in the conference coming to our home courts," said head coach Per Nilsson. "We have done everything you are suppose to do to compete in this conference and look forward to this new step in our season."

MSU is led by senior Ryan Farlow who has moved into the national rankings at 118th, now with two ranked wins that the Madison, Miss.-native has posted this season.

Sophomore Antonio Lastre is sporting a 4-1 record since dual match play began, and, in doubles, he and rookie teammate Daniel Sanchez are 5-0 on the season. MSU has a trio of freshman boasting current win streaks, with Sanchez, Artem Ilyushin and Louis Cant, all winners of three-straight affairs.

Tennessee is led by sophomore John-Patrick Smith, who is ranked 10th in the country, and fellow classmate, 33rd ranked Boris Conkic. The Vols lead doubles tandem stands ninth in the country with the pair of Smith and Davey Sandgren.

UGA is paced by three ranked singles players, led by seventh ranked sophomore Nate Schnugg, followed by 60th ranked sophomore Jamie Hunt and freshman Javier Garrapiz who stands at 84th in the nation. The duo of Hunt and Schnugg is ranked 12th in the country.

Admission is free to all home Mississippi State tennis matches. Live stats will be available at www.mstateathletics.com.


Football
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State head football coach Dan Mullen will headline the university's third annual "Road Dawgs Tour," joining university and athletic department officials on a 17-stop trek across the Southeast beginning in late April.

The tour will make in-state stops at Clarksdale, Columbus, Corinth, Greenwood, Jackson, Laurel, McComb, Natchez, Ocean Springs and Vicksburg. Out-of-state destinations include Birmingham and Huntsville, Ala., Memphis, New Orleans, Houston and Dallas along with Jackson, Tenn. Mullen will be at each stop. He will be joined by representatives from the athletic department, alumni association, Bulldog Club and admissions and scholarships office. The tour is being sponsored by the Bulldog Club, the MSU Alumni Association, and participating alumni chapters.

"This is a wonderful way to take the energy and excitement of Mississippi State on the road," said Jimmy Abraham, executive director of the MSU Alumni Association. "We look forward to sharing all of the great things happening at our university right now with our alumni and friends."

Director of Athletics Greg Byrne said the opportunity to travel to see alumni and fans is important to the success of the department. "It's vital to reach out during the late spring and summer and show everyone in the Mississippi State family how important they are to our continued success," Byrne said.

According to NCAA legislation, head football coaches cannot have any contact with high school coaches or prospects during the time that Mullen will be traveling with the Road Dawgs Tour.

"The turnout and support at all of our previous alumni visits have been nothing short of phenomenal and I have no doubt that will continue on the Road Dawgs Tour," Mullen said. "Hopefully this will also be a good way to see many familiar faces that made the trip to our Maroon-White Spring Game on April 18."

Mullen's first Mississippi State team will begin spring practice on March 24 and end their spring drills with the Maroon-White Game as part of Super Bulldog Weekend on April 18.

2009 ROAD DAWGS TOUR

April 27 - Memphis
April 28 - Vicksburg (Lunch)
April 28 - Jackson "Evening in Maroon"
April 29 - Houston, Texas
April 30 - Dallas, Texas
May 4 - Columbus
May 5 - Clarksdale (Lunch)
May 5 - Greenwood
May 6 - Natchez (Lunch)
May 6 - New Orleans
May 7 - McComb
May 11 - Laurel (Lunch)
May 11 - Ocean Springs
May 13 - Jackson, Tenn. (Lunch)
May 13 - Corinth
May 18 - Birmingham
May 19 - Huntsville


Women's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Off to a school-record 8-0 start, the 57th-ranked Mississippi State women's tennis team steps into Southeastern Conference play this weekend in a pair of road matches against top-15 teams.

The Lady Bulldogs start out the 2009 SEC schedule against two of the top ranked teams in the conference. MSU travels to 12th-ranked Tennessee Friday for a 2:30 p.m. CT match at UT's Varsity Tennis courts, before hitting to the road once more to take on second-ranked Georgia Sunday. The contest between State and UGA is slated for Noon CT.

MSU moved up to its highest ranking since 2006 after this past week's 4-1 victory over East Tennessee State. State is currently ranked No. 57 in the ITA Rankings. In 2006, the Lady Bulldogs claimed a No. 33 national ranking.

Matching the team's 8-0 mark, junior Radka Ferancova remains undefeated with eight singles victories on the year, taking all in straight sets. The Slovakia native is on a four-match win streak in doubles with teammate Daniela Juskova.

Last week against East Tennessee State, MSU relied on singles to give them the victory. As they have done all season, the Lady Bulldogs persevered through the near eight-hour day to give them the win.

MSU is led at the top spot in singles by senior Martina Banikova. Banikova steps into SEC play for the final time in her Lady Bulldog career. As one of the leaders for this MSU squad, the senior is 3-4 at the top spot in singles play, while also boasting a 6-1 record with fellow senior leader Elna de Villers. The two are currently riding a streak of five consecutive wins at the No. 1 position in doubles.

Meanwhile, State's freshmen netters also look to continue their strong start. Lady Bulldog rookies Natalia Mayuk and Olesya Tsigvintseva are a combined 11-4 in singles play and boast a 4-3 record in doubles.

Tennessee comes into the match with Mississippi State off to their best start since the 2001 campaign, when it started 14-1. UT is led in singles by 57th-ranked Caitlin Whorisky. The junior also is key for the Lady Volunteers in doubles with teammate Maria Sorbello. Each doubles team for UT is nationally ranked.

A perennial power, the Lady Bulldogs of Georgia come into this weekend with a 9-1 overall record. UGA has four players ranked in singles, with Chelsey Gullickson holding a No. 6 national ranking.

Following this weekend, Mississippi State will return home next Friday, March 13 to take on Auburn in a 2 p.m. CT affair, before facing off with Alabama Sunday, March 15 at 1 p.m. CT at the A.J. Pitts Tennis Centre.


Men's Golf
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's golf team is making its 24th appearance at the Seminole Intercollegiate this weekend in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Bulldogs will tee off Friday morning and play 18 holes each in three consecutive days at the par-72, 6,965-yard, Golden Eagle Country Club.

The Bulldogs are coming off their first tournament victory of the season at the Troy Invitational in Crestview, Florida. MSU fired an 892 in the three round event to win the tournament by an astounding 32 strokes. MState has now finished in the top five in three tournaments this season.

Competing for head coach Clay Homan for the fourth straight tournament is the all-senior lineup of Noah Goldman, Brian Mason , Josh Bevell, Matt Fast and Carlos Sainz, Jr. Goldman is coming off an individual championship performance at the Troy Invitational where the Longwood, Fla.,-native shot a 5-over-par, 221, to claim a two shot victory.

Mason is coming off his career best finish after posting a 7-over-par, 223, two shots back of Goldman. Bevell and Fast are coming of fifth place finishes at the Troy Invitational where the duo both posted 10-over-par three round scores. Sainz is competing is his eighth tournament this season and is coming of his fourth top-10 finish of the year.

MSU will compete among a 12-team field including top-25 teams Arkansas (21), Ole Miss (25) and host- Florida State (22). Completing the field will be fellow SEC opponents Auburn and Vanderbilt, followed by Charleston, Maryland, Mercer, UAB, Virginia and Western Carolina.

Live stats will be available on www.mstateathletics.com.


Gene's Page Top Stories