By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
Mississippi State’s speedsters are a bit hobbled, but they’re still expecting to rack up some hardware.
Sprinters Emanuel Mayers and Tavaris Tate are both unavailable for the SEC Outdoor Track and Field Championships, which start today in Athens, Ga. Mayers is done for the year because of foot surgery, while Tate (hamstring) could be back for the NCAAs.
Then there’s D’Angelo Cherry, who’s got a nerve issue in his right leg but will try to run.
Don’t expect the No. 22-ranked Bulldogs to use those absences as an excuse if things don’t go well this weekend.
“It’s tough, but it’s something, you’ve got to deal with it,” first-year coach Steve Dudley said. “That’s just the way it is. My expectations on whoever plugs back in there is no different than if your main one is in there.”
MSU has been without Mayers for several weeks now, while Tate’s issue is a recurring one that recently flared up. Junior O’Neal Wilder said the bigger loss is Mayers, a senior who’s ranked 25th in the country in the 400-meter hurdles.
Tate will be missed in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, but guys like James Harris and Garren Hendricks are expected to pick up his slack. A little more challenging, perhaps, will be replacing Tate in the relays – he runs on the 4×100 and 4×400 teams, both of which have already qualified for nationals.
That’s where depth comes in.
“On some of the relays we’re not just at B depth, we’re like at D and E depth,” Dudley said. “But the unbelievable thing is, we’re still surviving, we still made the main final at the Penn Relays, we’re still running pretty good. Whereas there’s been years past if I’d have had this many guys go down, we wouldn’t be able to have any relays.”
Freshman Randy Patterson will fill in for Tate in the 4×400. Wilder is a member of that team, which finished second at last year’s SEC meet, and he said he’s comfortable with whoever runs with him.
“I practice with the same guys every day,” Wilder said. “If somebody goes down, I feel like the guys I practice with every day, they’re going to go in and run their hardest.”
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.