Mississippi State is hosting the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships for the first time since 2002 at the Mike Sanders Track Complex.
The Bulldogs’ 18th-ranked men’s team and 19th-ranked women’s team hope that the familiar confines just might give them the edge they need in an event featuring 18 teams ranked in the Top 25 nationally.
“If you practice at the same place all the time, there’s got to be some advantage to that,” said MSU track coach Steve Dudley. “But ultimately everybody’s got to run the same distance and jump the same height or distance and throw. I think there might be a slight (home) advantage but I don’t think it’s huge.”
The SEC Outdoor Championships get underway at 11 a.m. Thursday with the women’s hammer throw and will continue through the final event Saturday at 6:35 p.m. with the women’s 4×400-meter relay finals.
MSU’s rosters features two of the top track athletes in the country in senior Erica Bougard of Byhalia and junior Brandon McBride of Canada. Bougard is fifth nationally in the heptathlon, ninth in the 100-meter hurdles and 17th in the high jump. McBride is the reigning SEC and national outdoor champion in the 800-meters.
In 2013, Bougard also won a national title as the indoor pentathlon champion. She will compete in the 100 hurdles, 200, 800, high jump, shot put, long jump and javelin this weekend.
“Hopefully everything goes well,” Bougard said. “I’m going to give it my all like I always do. Actually I want to win, so I’m going to get after it.”
McBride set the school record with a time of 1:45.35 in the 800 last year and posted a 1:46.28 time in the event this year.
“A lot of people don’t realize that running is as much mental as it is physical,” McBride said. “That starts with believing. If you believe you can do it, then chances are you have a good chance of being successful.”
State has seen five school records fall this season – Bougard in the high jump (6-00), Ocian Archer in the 400-meter hurdles (59.29), Sasha-Gaye Marston in discus (161-04), Tautvydas Kieras in discus (196-11) and Marcus Jackson in the high jump (6-05.75).
Texas A&M’s men won the 2014 Outdoor Championship and are currently ranked No. 1 nationally followed by LSU and Florida to round out the top three.
Arkansas’ women claimed the 2014 outdoor title and are also the top-ranked team in the country while Georgia is No. 3.