Bulldogs Finished 17th In NCAA Championships

EUGENE, Ore. – Walking off the track of historic Hayward Field Saturday afternoon, emotions got the best of Dwight Mullings. After all, he knew it was the last time he'd be wearing a Mississippi State uniform.

But what an ending it turned out to be for the talented senior from Spanish Town, Jamaica.

In the final event of the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Mullings was instrumental in the Bulldogs finishing second in the 4x400 behind favored Texas A&M with a time of 3:01.66, the second fastest in school history.

How fast was Mullings? By the time he handed the baton to Emanuel Mayers for the third leg, it was just a two-team race between the Aggies and Bulldogs, with rival Florida a distant third.

On the final leg, freshman Tavaris Tate caught up with A&M's Tabarie Henry coming down the backstretch, bringing the record crowd of 12,812 to their feet. However, Henry held on, while the win gave the Aggies the overall title for the second-straight year with 72 points. Oregon was second 57 points, followed by Florida with 40.

The Bulldogs finished in a tie for 17th for the second-consecutive season.

"I'm disappointed we didn't win, but I'm glad we finished second. That's great," said Mullings, tears flowing down his cheeks. "I ran as hard as I could, and it's been a privilege wearing this uniform. I can't believe it's over. I'm just so thankful I had the opportunity to come to Mississippi State, run track and get a degree. But that last race was tough, because it was my last time as a Bulldog."

His 4x400 teammates felt for him and did their best to console him. Prior to the race, they devoted it to him.

"He's a senior. We wanted to do it for him," Mayers said. "Coming into this race, we knew we were capable of winning it. We ran as hard as we could, and I thought we were going to get it."

Added O'Neal Wilder, who had the opening leg, "This one was for Dwight. We all ran hard for him, because that's what he's done every time for us. He's been a great leader for us, and he'll be missed."

As a result of the second-place finish, Mullings leaves Mississippi State as a three-time All-American, a feat coach Al Schmidt said shouldn't go unnoticed.

"We were right in the belly of the beast until the final end," the 22nd year coach said. "It came down to the end. It's just tough when you get to this meet, but we have nothing to hang our heads about. It was a great race and gave the fans here something to cheer about. Dwight has just been great for us his entire career. He's also a great person and great student. He'll be missed tremendously. He did everything we asked him to do and more. It's unfortunate how things turned out for us in the 4x100. But as I've said all along, he's the best curve runner in the country in that event. But he leaves here a three-time All-American, and that's special."

On the women's side, Texas A&M won with 72 points, followed by Oregon and Florida with 57 and 40 points, respectively.

The Lady Bulldogs, who finished in a tie for 41st, had just one competitor on Saturday – senior Wendy Copeland in the long jump. She failed to make the finals after jumping 19-04.25 in the prelims.

"Wendy has been so good for us all four of her years," Schmidt said. "Although she didn't make it to the finals, she came here two years in a row. She got better every year and we'll miss her.

Copeland's highlight this season was finishing second at the SECs back in May.

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