News from MSU Media Relations--May 14

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

Track & Field
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After a highly competitive and successful regular season that saw Mississippi State's men's and women's track teams collect 29 regional qualifying marks, the focus now is postseason, starting Thursday with the SEC Outdoor Track & Field Championships at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

The four-day event, which will air on Fox Sports Net on May 23, is scheduled to conclude on Sunday.

"On the NCAA level, the SEC is the best track and field conference," coach Al Schmidt said. "That's why a lot of times, the SEC Championships can be, as far as excitement level, better than even the NCAA championships."

The meet will take place at Percy Beard Track at James G. Pressley Stadium starting at 2:30 p.m. on Thursday with the women's heptathlon, an event MSU senior Marrissa Harris has dominated in the past.

Harris, a native of Memphis, took home the heptathlon crown last season by obtaining a school-record 5,600 points, becoming the fourth Lady Bulldog to win an outdoor title.

As a team, Mississippi State's women face a daunting task going up against defending SEC Champions LSU, as well as No. 12 Tennessee and No. 18 Auburn.

On the men's side, the 43rd-ranked men's team also faces some of the nation's top squads. In addition to top-ranked Florida, LSU, South Carolina, the defending SEC champion Arkansas Razorbacks and Auburn are all ranked in the Top 25 according to the USTFCCCA.

Matthew Cameron is scheduled to compete in the 1500-meter, Dwight Mullings in the 400- and 200-meter and D'Angelo Cherry looks to have a full load with the 4x1-, 4x4- and 100-meter sprints.

Schmidt sees the sprints, jumps and hurdles as MSU's strongpoint that must be counted upon.

"Our strength has got to be performed," Schmidt said. "We're one of the best sprint teams in the country, but there's about four or five of those (in the SEC). So each kid has to run seasonal bests or sometimes career-best to qualify for regionals. It's always an exciting time because it gives the kids a chance to be an SEC champion. And once you're an SEC champion, you're always an SEC champion."

Following this weekend's meets, regional-qualifying Bulldogs continue their season at the NCAA Mideast Regional at the University of Louisville May 29-30.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State's 2009 track and field signing class swelled by five on Monday, MSU coach Al Schmidt announced.

The five additions represent five different states - Ohio, Nevada, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama – and all are expected to be key contributors in both field events and on the track.

The new signees are Alyssa Hall (Cincinnati), Taisha Lee (Las Vegas), Jessica Merriweather (Memphis), Sojourner Ewing (Gulfport) and Allison Storey (Tuscaloosa).

"We are excited to have these student-athletes join our team and feel each one brings something that will make our program even better," MSU assistant coach Bryan Fetzer said. "They are proven winners and hopefully we can make them even better."

Alyssa Hall--Withrow High School (Cincinnati, Ohio)
Recorded the fifth-best indoor high hump in the United States with a person best 5 foot, 8 inches at the UK High School Invitational in Lexington, Ky., back in February...Has only been jumping for two years...Also a standout athlete in volleyball and basketball.

Taisha Lee--Belville State Community College (AL)/Las Vegas Ranch High School
A junior college All-American, she finished third at the NJCAA National Championships in 2008 in the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 62.41. Also lead the 4x400-meter relay team to a sixth-place finish...Has a personal best of 14.18 in the 100m hurdles and 12.00 in the 100-meter dash.

Jessica Merriweather--Rend Lake Community College (IL)/Memphis Bartlett High School
Was a high jumper that competed on the 2008 USATF World Junior Team in Poland...Won the 2008 NJCAA National Championship in the high jump (6'1 1/2") and was a high school All-American after winning the Heptathlon (4,788 points) at the 2007 Tennessee State Championship.

Sojourner Ewing--Gulfport High School
This past year was considered one of the Top 10 returning senior high school jumpers in the USA by Track and Field News...Last year, posted the 22nd best long jump in the USA with a leap of 19-9...At this year's Class 5A championships, she finished fourth in the 400-meter dash and sixth in both the 200-meter dash and long jump...Won the 400m and 200m at the 5A South State meet.

Allison Storey--Northridge High School (AL)
As a ninth grader, finished second in the javelin at the Class 6A state championships...Finished second this year with a throw of 130-01, the second-longest in Class 6A history...She also finished seventh in the discuss at 96-05...Her personal best of 141-2 was set as a junior.

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State lowers the curtains on its 2009 baseball season at Dudy Noble Field this week as the Bulldogs (24-27, 8-18 SEC) host second-ranked and SEC-leading LSU (39-14, 19-9 SEC) in a three-game series at Dudy Noble Field.

Thursday's series-opener is set for 6:36 p.m. and will be televised primarily in Louisiana markets by Jumbo Sports.

The Bulldogs notched their third win in their last four games Tuesday afternoon at Memphis' AutoZone Park with a 6-5 decision over the Memphis Tigers. Junior righty Justin Bussey pitched six scoreless innings of two-hit relief while striking out six and the Bulldogs belted a trio of home runs to earn the win. Sophomore DH Cody Freeman drilled a pair of roundtrippers and junior Ryan Duffy provided the game-winning blow with a tie-breaking solo shot to open the eighth inning. It was Duffy's fifth home run in his last seven games.

State will be looking to duplicate its success of a week ago when the Diamond Dogs knocked off No. 7 Ole Miss twice in three games at UM's Swayze Field/O-U Stadium to earn their second SEC series win of the year. Senior relief pitchers Chad Crosswhite and Jared Wesson notched saves as State clinched the series with 6-5 and 11-8 wins.

LSU, making a bid to become the SEC's first 40-game winner in 2009, enters the final weekend of league competition with a half-game lead over Alabama and a one-game edge over both Florida and Ole Miss.

Junior lefty Tyler Whitney (3-4, 5.25), who turned in a strong seven-inning start and earned the win in State's series-opening 6-5 decision at Ole Miss, will open on the hill for the Bulldogs. LSU will counter with sophomore righty Anthony Ranaudo (6-3, 3.10), who leads the SEC with 112 strikeouts in 12 games.

Bulldog senior catcher Scott DeLoach (.355), riding a career-best 10-game hitting streak, has taken over the top spot among MSU's hitting leaders. The Madison, Miss., product went 5-for-10 with three doubles, a career-first home run and four walks last weekend at Ole Miss and leads the Southeastern Conference with a .497 on-base percentage.

The series continues Friday at 6:36 p.m. and concludes with a 2 p.m. game Saturday. MSU will salute its nine senior players prior to Saturday's season finale.

Men's Golf
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Head Coach Clay Homan and the Mississippi State men's golf team will begin competition in the NCAA Southwest Regional Thursday at the par-71 University of Texas Golf Club in Austin, Texas. The event will run through Saturday with the top five teams advancing to the NCAA Championship in West Lafayette, Ind., later this month.

MSU will feature the senior-laden lineup of Noah Goldman, Carlos Sainz, Jr., Josh Bevell, Matt Fast and Brian Mason. The lineup is a familiar one for the Bulldogs, competing in their eighth straight tournament together.

MState will be in competition with 12 other teams, as well as individual players from an additional six schools. Nine teams that will be in Austin are ranked inside the top-50 through The Bulldogs have faced eight of the 12 teams playing in the regional this season.

Mississippi State is slated to tee off in the first round on Thursday at 9:40 a.m. CT. Live stats will be available at

STARKVILLE - Twenty-two Mississippi State football players posted a grade point average of 3.0 or better, and 43 exceeded a 2.5 GPA during the spring semester. The cumulative GPA of the 2009 squad was 2.76.

"We talk about being champions in life, and a big part of that is being accountable in the classroom" head coach Dan Mullen said. "This is a testament to not only the type of character players we have in this program, but the commitment to becoming a champion on and off the field that most of the team has bought into."

Notable standouts in the classroom during the spring semester include Aaron Feld and Phillip Freeman who posted 4.0 GPAs, Addison Lawrence at 3.76, Tyson Lee with a 3.44, Anthony Dixon and Derek Sherrod at 3.25, J. C. Brignone with a 3.14 and Jamar Chaney at 3.06.

Last week, the NCAA announced its annual Academic Progress Report (APR) scores and the Bulldog football program posted a 933, its highest mark ever. Mississippi State is one of only five schools in the Southeastern Conference to improve its APR mark each of the five years the report has been released by the NCAA.

When including players that exhausted eligibility following the 2008 season, the overall football GPA was 2.62, still the third-highest mark in school history.

Men's Tennis
STARKVILLE, Miss. - The Mississippi State men's tennis team boasts the highest overall grade point average of the spring among all State varsity sports with a 3.52 team GPA.

The mark is the highest GPA the Bulldogs have posted in head coach Per Nilsson's two seasons with the team and the highest by an MSU men's tennis team since spring of 2000, when the Bulldog netters notched a 3.8 GPA, the highest ever obtained in a single semester by any MSU team.

"I am very proud of the guys," said Nilsson. "They have their priorities in order and they worked extra hard to bring their grades up."

The Bulldogs tennis squad had all nine of its student-athletes finish above a 3.0 GPA, including four who boasted a 3.5 or higher.

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