Mayers Earns Points For MSU

EUGENE, Ore. – Emanuel Mayers just wanted to top what he did last year. Not that placing 7th is bad. He just wanted to improve on that finish. Friday evening in the finals of the 400-meter hurdles, he did just that.

In front of a record-setting crowd of 11,972 at Hayward Field and despite gusty winds that made for less-than-favorable conditions, the junior from Lakewood, N.J., crossed the finish line at 51.39 en route to a sixth-place finish and the Bulldogs' first points of the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

As a result, he becomes the first MSU hurdler ever to garner back-to-back All-American honors.

South Carolina's Jonny Dutch won at 48.75.

"Last year was my first time and I was nervous," he said following the race. "This year, I was more relaxed and knew what to expect. It was more windy, though, especially on the backstretch, and that made it tough. But, you have to be prepared for anything. My goal was to finish better than last year, and fortunately I was able to do that."

The three points he garnered weren't the only ones on the day for Mississippi State.

Following Mayers' run, freshman sensation Tavaris Tate lived up to his billing in the 400-meter dash, finishing 5th with a time of 45.56. SEC champion Kirani James of Alabama won at 45.05.

"I'm just so blessed," the Starkville native said. "Of course, I always want to win, and I'm disappointed that I didn't, but it was just a great honor to be out there competing against some of the fastest guys in the world. It was an honor to get to the finals, but I wanted to win. But again, I'm blessed to be here and very proud to be an All-American."

Moments following the men's 400, freshman Jody-Ann Muir turned in a time of 52.93 to finish sixth on the women's side.

Like Mayers and Tate, she too had to battle the wind on the outside lanes, but she had enough endurance remaining to hold off the last three runners.

"This was just a great experience for me," she said. "I want to come back next year and be in the Top 3. I'll learn from this and hopefully get better. I thought I did my best against some great competition."

MSU coach Al Schmidt thought so, too. In fact, he was quite pleased with the day's results overall.

"On the men's side, any of those eight guys could have won," he said of the 400-meter dash. "Fifth place certainly isn't a bad finish. We would like to have had a better lane. But let me say this, Tavaris is a very, very special athlete that's got an unbelievable future ahead of him.

"Jody-Ann has turned out to be one of the biggest surprises in the country," he added. "No one expected this from her. But each time she stepped out on the track, she got better. Like Tate, she's got some bright days ahead of her. Exciting times are ahead for this program."

The No. 9 Bulldogs enter Saturday's final day currently in 27th place with seven points, three shy of being in the Top 15. The Lady Bulldogs are currently tied for 30th with five points.

Saturday features three events for Mississippi State – Wendy Copeland in the long Jump at 11:30 a.m. CT, the women's 4x400 at 1:40 p.m. and the men's 4x400 at 1:50 p.m.

CBS will begin its live coverage at noon and conclude with the 4x400-meter relays.

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