STARKVILLE – Mississippi State will break in its pristine new track with a big and unique event today.
The inaugural SEC/Big 10 Challenge will be the first meet MSU has hosted in nearly four years, and it starts at 9 a.m. at the newly renovated Carl Maddox Track. It will feature Auburn, Georgia and Ole Miss from the SEC, along with Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State and Purdue of the Big 10.
It will be scored as conference vs. conference.
“The significance of it is the chance for the kids to compete in a meet we actually score,” first-year head coach Steve Dudley said. “So many meets in the season are used as a qualifying tool. … The actual scoring of the meet will bring out the best in the kids, which will in turn lead to more qualifying (marks).”
The international scoring system will be used and will crown both a men’s and women’s champion. Dudley likes that the SEC teams get to work toward beating someone else instead of each other.
So, yeah, Bulldogs and Rebels will essentially be teammates.
“When you score conference versus conference, it kind of takes a little bit of the stress kids go through most of the year going head to head,” Dudley said.
The coach said he thinks the Big 10’s depth could give it an advantage, because not all the SEC squads are bringing all their athletes. As for MSU, the men figure to again be strong in the sprints, a discipline that led the Bulldogs to a No. 17 ranking last season.
They enter this year No. 8 and have most of that speed back, including Emanuel Mayers, Tavaris Tate and O’Neal Wilder. The 4×400 relay team is ranked third nationally.
“Got some younger guys that we added, got some guys that were on the team last year that hadn’t matured yet, and now they have matured a little bit,” Dudley said. “Add them to the mix, and it gives us more depth than had in the past.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal