"Yes sir, I think everybody has their own confidence in themselves. Everybody, at this stage, is ranked pretty high as far as on the national level and NCAA. And you have to have confidence in yourself because you have made it this far. We were all recruited to be the best and we are all shooting for that. So, you have to have confidence in yourself."
Coach Schmidt talked about the Florida team chanting at your team. And you guys chanted back, Maroon-White. Was that the confidence coming forth?
"I understand Florida doing that because they do have the number 1 time in the relay in the 4x4. And they are a team that likes to show out. Our teammates in the stands felt like we can run just as good at them. So, they came back chanting Maroon and White. I wouldn't call that cocky. At that point it was the last race, so it was a big race. Everybody was more team-spirited at that point."
This team is a combination of youngsters, three sophomores and one freshman, and veterans, two juniors and a senior. And it is a very talented group. But the youngsters are new to the championship stage. Will you and the other veterans experiences in the nationals help the youngsters?
"Last year I went to the nationals as a sophomore and I was very nervous because it was my first time to be on the big stage. But, this year I am a junior. And Dwight (Mullings) and I are very well prepped for this and know what is going to happen. As for Tavaris, we can only tell him what to expect and kind of help him prepare for him. But he's very disciplined and very focused and knows what he has to do and can accomplish. And I really don't look at him as an underclassman due to what he has been through. We have all run overseas before. Tavaris ran for a US team, I ran for a Trinidad team and Dwight has run for a Jamaican team, so we have all been on a big stage before."
What do you think is the potential for this team at the nationals? Coach Schmidt thinks you could win a medal, which means you would be among the top four in the nation.
"I think Coach Schmidt it right, the top four sounds reasonable. It's not like we are all going to go there and win every event. We know what our strengths are and who our competitors are. We are very realistic about the goals we have set. If Coach Schmidt says top 4, we look forward to doing better but the top 4 seems like a reasonable goal. Mississippi State coming forth on a national level is very good compared to year's past where we have been in the double digits."
How do you train right now where you make sure you are at peak form but you don't do too much that might cause you to get injured?
"(Associate Head Track) Coach (Steve) Dudley has been in this position for many years. And I have trust in him. No one will put us in a position where we could get injured. Coach Dudley gives us two hard workouts a week, just to make sure our bodies keep that speed endurance and strength. But as far as every other day we are basically doing drills or something easy, something like tempo work, just to keep our muscles in tune."
What are your thoughts about going into the nationals?
"I am very excited. Last year, when I was going in I was predicted to be ninth and I came out seventh. This year, I am predicted sixth, I am ranked sixth right now, so going into Eugene, Oregon, I expect the unexpected. This is the national level. I may do better, I may do worse. But I am going in prepared. I really think I will carry myself to a better position than sixth."
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.