LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Not only did Mississippi State's track and field team garner three first-place finishes Saturday on the final day of the NCAA Mideast Regional at Cardinal Park, it established a few records along the way en route to a historic performance.
Yet according to MSU coach Al Schmidt, it was Emanuel Mayers' run in the 400-meter hurdles that stole the show.
The sophomore from Lakewood, N.J., exploded out of the final hurdle to pass Ole Miss' Lee Moore to take the win with a personal-best time of 50.30 seconds, also a track record.
"He was great," an elated Schmidt said. "We should have filmed that race to show it to any team that plays any sport. He gutted it out to the finish line and showed everyone how to finish a race."
He wasn't the only Bulldog to enjoy time in the winner's circle.
Junior college transfer Dwight Mullings of Spanish Town, Jamaica, again showcased his speed by running away with the 400-meter dash at 45.66.
Then there was the 4 x 400-meter relay team of Mullings, Mayers, Trey Charles and John Bailey, who took top honors with a track record and season-best time of 3:04.72.
And while he didn't win, true freshman D'Angelo Cherry finished second in the 100-meter dash with a career-best sprint of 10.07. State also delivered a top-notch performance in the 4 x 100-meter relay, with the team of Justin Christian, Cherry, Mullings and Mayers finishing fourth at 39.65.
As it a result, it was an unprecedented weekend for the Bulldogs, who totaled 44 points to claim a fifth-place finish, the highest in school history.
In fact, it was a great day for the Southeastern Conference, which claimed the top five spots. Arkansas won with 90 points, followed by LSU (83), Kentucky (46) and Auburn (45).
In all, 94 teams competed.
"This shows you how tough the SEC is," Schmidt said. "We finished ninth in our league two weeks ago, then come here and finish fifth.'
As for the Lady Bulldogs, the only participant on Saturday was senior All-American Marrissa Harris, who finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.36. On Friday, Wendy Copeland and Priscilla Gaines advanced to the nationals after finishing second and fourth in the long jump, with leaps of 21-00 ¾ and 20-05, respectively.
As a team, MSU finished 16th out of 116, the second-highest in school history. LSU won with 85.5 points, followed by Tennessee with 69. Auburn was fifth (35.5), followed by Arkansas (33, 7th) and Alabama (23.5, 10th) to round out the Top 10 for SEC foes.
"This couldn't have gone any better," Schmidt said. "The kids put on a show. They were phenomenal. We've now got a chance to finish in the Top 10 at the nationals."
The nationals are set for June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark.