March 8, 2018 9:46:24 AM
STARKVILLE -- Steve Dudley thinks high expectations are fair at this point -- even if the national projections don't share the same view.
Instead, Dudley looks at his Mississippi State track and field team's recent performances in indoor championships -- the women have placed in the top 25 in each of the last four years, while the men have done it twice in that same time span -- to justify those expectations.
"We're just hoping the three women and two guys perform at a level that the overall team score is in the top 20," said Dudley, MSU's track and field coach. "With three solid women, we feel really good about their situation to make the top 15, top 20. The guys aren't ranked to be able to do that, but I think in the preseason we weren't even in the top 150. Now we might be 52nd or something. We're always kind of the underdog. Even the years we were top 10, they didn't have us in the top 50."
Those five athletes will represent MSU on Friday and Saturday at the NCAA Indoor Championships at Texas A&M. Senior high jumper Logan Boss, who won the Southeastern Conference indoor championship Feb. 25 with a jump of 1.91 meters (6 feet, 3 1/4 inches), will lead the way. The title came a year after she finished third at the national indoor championships.
"We've worked on a lot of technique and really built off of last year," Boss said. "Last year was a great foundation, but now we're building up on it by working on the little things."
Boss' winning mark was an inch away from the qualifying standard for the world championship. MSU's assistant coach Steve Thomas, who works with the jumpers, feels Boss will have an added bonus because she will compete at Texas A&M, which also played host to SEC Championships less than two weeks ago.
"This is not a new environment for our kids. They've seen everything, they've done everything," Thomas said. "They're ready to go."
Senior Tiffany Flynn will compete in triple jump. She is the current school record holder and coming off of an eighth-place finish at the SEC Championships.
Senior Rhiannwedd Price-Weimer (mile) rounds out MSU's female contingent. Price-Weimer won the NCAA championship in the 1,500 meters in the 2015 outdoor season. MSU assistant coach Houston Franks, who works with the distance runners, said getting back to that level has been difficult because Price-Weimer lost a year of training due to pneumonia pleurisy. But Franks said Price-Weimer has been hitting the checkpoints she hit prior to the national championship.
"I've learned from a whole bunch of experiences, race tactics and learning how people race over time," Price-Weimer said. "I guess having more experience in that situation, it makes you go in maybe a little more relaxed when you get to that point. It makes you more excited than nervous when you get to that point."
On the men's side, junior Dejon Devroe and freshman Marco Arop will compete in the 800. Devroe finished second in the event at the SEC Championships at Texas A&M.
"It's a blessing to be a freshman and be able to compete at nationals. It's incredible," Arop said.
Dudley won't let Arop's classification influence his expectations, especially given the valuable lesson Arop learned after finishing 13th in the preliminaries and missing the finals.
"Once you get to this level, it's more of a sprint event and Marco is starting to figure that out," Dudley said. "Huge mistake at the SEC Championships. He let the pace be like it was in high school and he let it come down to a quick kick and he's a pretty long-legged guy, so being able to change gears quick is very difficult for him. Hopefully the freshman mistake was made two weeks ago at the SEC Championships.
"We talk about this all the time, once you make a NCAA championships, you're not a freshman anymore."
Seven receive All-SEC honors
Boss earned a first-team All-SEC selection Wednesday for her conference championship in the high jump.
MSU's distance medley relay team that placed third at the championships received a second-team nod. Alon Lewis, Mia Meydrich, Price-Weimer, and Keturah Smith finished in 11 minutes, 17.25 seconds to score six points.
On the men's side, Devroe and Daniel Nixon finished second and third, respectively, in the 800 to earn second-team selections, the first of their Bulldog careers.
"I'm very proud of our athletes and how they performed at the conference meet to earn these honors," Dudley said. "We compete in the hardest conference in the country, and our athletes chose to challenge themselves to compete with the best when they decided to come to Mississippi State."
Boss, Meydrich and Lewis are all second-time honorees, while Price-Weimer's award is the fifth all-conference honor of her career between the indoor and outdoor seasons. Smith is a first-time honoree.
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