A Q&A With Assistant Track Coach Bryan Fetzer

Mississippi State's women's track and field signed an outstanding recruiting class during the 2008/2009 recruiting season, possibly the best in school history. MSU assistant track coach Bryan Fetzer talks in detail about each player that signed.

Mississippi State has added thirteen girls to the track and field team this recruiting season. How about talking about each girl and what the MSU coaching staff expects each girl to bring to the team during his career at State.
"We'll start with the distance girls first. I'll give you an overall sense of the distance runners (Kelly Karcher, Adriana Poole, Kallie Dalton, Haley Greenwell, Anna Jarman). They bring a lot to our distance program. A lot of them were milers and middle distance runners, an area that Coach (Al Schmidt) has been very successful.

"Kallie Dalton is from Illinois and has been very successful. Adriana Poole, who is from Alabama, is a longer distance runner. Anna Jarman, also from Alabama, is a middle distance runner, a miler. Haley Greenwell is a runner from Tennessee who is a longer distance runner. Kelly Karcher is a middle distance runner.

What will their roles be on the team next season?
"The thing about distance runners is moving up to the college level usually takes them a little more time to develop due to having to put the miles in."

Switching over to the field events and sprinters, you signed two highly sought after girls from Jamaica - Jody-Ann Muir and Keisha Wallace.
"Jody-Ann is the Jamaican high school national champion in the 400 (meters). She also won the Carifta (Games) championship, which is the entire Caribbean. She should have a major impact next year. Right now, (her time) would be sitting in the top 10 in the NCAA based on what she did in the high school nationals.

"We are very fortunate because everybody in the country recruited her. And she's a very good academic student as well."

How did you wind up signing her?
"Jamaica has been good to me as a coach. When I first started coaching at a junior college, I started recruiting Jamaica. I've been fortunate to have a lot of pretty talented Jamaican athletes. I've had several All-Americans and several national champions from Jamaica."

Keisha Wallace is the other girl from Jamaica that you recruited.
"Keisha was the high school national champion in the 100 hurdles. She and Jody-Ann went to the same high school - Wholmers High School for Girls, which is one of the top academic high schools in Jamaica.

"Keisha is another girl who could come right in and perform very well at the SEC level. Like with Jody-Ann, everybody in the country recruited her. Jody-Ann and Keisha were probably two of the top three girls to come out of Jamaica this year. They were definitely the prize recruits in that country."

When you say everybody, what do you mean by that?
"When I saw everybody recruited both of them, you could probably say the name of a school that traditionally recruits the Caribbean ... almost all the SEC schools, the Big 12 schools, Big Ten schools."

In the latest official MSU release of signees, the first one listed was Alyssa Hall. Talk a little about her.
"She is one of my two volleyball/basketball players (laugh). She is from Withrow in Cincinnati, which has a very strong tradition in track. She just started high jumping two years ago. She is over 6-foot tall. She jumped 5'8" this year, which was the number 5 jump this year in high school indoors. Her upside is very good."

What other schools recruited her?
"She visited Kentucky and Cincinnati. She was a little bit under the radar due to being so new to the sport. But she's got a lot of good ability. She was a very good volleyball player."

You mentioned she played volleyball and basketball. She's just going to do track at State, right?
"Yes, she'll just be a track athlete here."

Brittany Covington is a signee from Mississippi.
"Brittany is from Greenville-Weston High School. She was the state champion in Mississippi in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles. She was also on the 4x4 relay team that broke the state record in the 100 meters relay. She also won the state last in the 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles.

"She is a very good leader, a very tough competitor. I'm not really sure exactly what she will be the best at in college. She has talked to me about doing the Heptathlon, but I'm not really sure. I know that the 400 hurdlers would be something she would be very good in. I'm very excited about her ability. Whatever she does, she will do very well."

Who recruited her?
"Brittany visited Florida and Ole Miss. Florida was her last official visit. She committed the day after she got back from Florida. It really came down to us and Florida."

Taisha Lee, another signee, is a very good hurdler.
"She is originally from Las Vegas, Nevada. She goes to Bevill State Community College right now. She's a junior college All-American in the 400 hurlers. She's also a pretty good 100 hurler. I would say the 400 hurlers is her best event. She actually went to Bevill State to play basketball.

"She is a very driven young lady, a very good work ethic, very competitive ... does not like to lose. She is somebody who can come into the SEC next year and score in the NCAA in the hurdlers and can help us out on a relay team."

What schools recruited her?
"Kentucky and Ole Miss were the two big ones that recruited her."

Jessica Merriweather is another junior college girl that was signed by Mississippi State.
"She was on the World Junior team this summer (in Poland) that I was one of the coaches on. She is one of the most talented young ladies that I have ever seen compete. She is already an international-level high jumper. She jumped 6-1.5 last year at Rend Lake Community College. Her potential in the Heptathlon is limitless. She has some big marks that can definitely transcend into being a national champion. She jumped 20 feet in the long jump, she has run 13.88 in the hurdles and a 6-1 high jump."

Who recruited her?
"Everybody recruited her - all the SEC schools, all the Big Ten schools, all the Big 12 schools."

What was your connection to her? Was it due to you being on the World Junior team as a coach?
"In the junior colleges you become good friends with other junior college coaches. And the Rend Lake coach, Denny Myers, and I have known each other for 10 to 15 years. That opened up the door, but with each one of the young ladies that signed, Mississippi State was a good fit for them. In recruiting, you have to look for that."

Sojourner Ewing is from Gulfport High School.
"Her nickname is Jo. She hurt her foot during the season, so she didn't have the year she was hoping for. She is a 100 meter sprinter and a long jumper. (her high school coaches) moved her to the 400 this year but she will be a long jumper and a sprinter for us.

"She is a Mississippi girl. And with Brittany Covington, the other Mississippi girl that we signed, they were the two best in Mississippi. And we wanted to make sure they both stayed (in Mississippi)."

Who recruited her?
"Alabama, Ole Miss and UAB recruited her."

Allison Storey is from Northridge High School in Alabama.
"She is a javelin thrower, an area that we definitely don't have on the team right now as far as scoring in the SEC. Her personal best performance in the javelin for the past four years would have scored in the SEC every year.

"It really came down to us and Arizona State for her."

Overall, this is an outstanding class that appears to have a lot of girls who will contribute in a major way next year.
"That's exactly what we tried to do. Our entire staff did a good job working together to make sure these young ladies came to Mississippi State. The girls and guys did just as good of a job hosting them. And there were a lot of connections with some of them with some of the girls on the team and some of the guys on the team. We are definitely excited about this group of girls."

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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