FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – With grit and passion driving their performances, Mississippi State indoor track and field members D’Angelo Cherry and Erica Bougard led the Bulldogs to Top 20 team finishes as the duo captured a pair of individual national titles Sunday at the 2013 NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships.
Recently crowned the USA Indoor 60-meter dash champion, Cherry ran a 6.54 in the event finals to capture his second title in just two weeks. The U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Athlete of the Week crossed the lined in 6.53 seconds in preliminaries on Friday, sweeping both heats.
“It’s been such a pleasure being an MSU Bulldog,” said Cherry, who concluded his last meet in maroon and white. “It’s a bittersweet moment for me, but I’m so thankful for everyone who stood behind me, holding me up when I wanted to give up. I love my team.”
The only woman to represent MSU this weekend, Bougard entered the meet ranked fourth nationally in the pentathlon and second in the SEC. Her total of 4,399 points on Sunday is the best in school history.
Junior Marcus Jackson also excelled at the Randal Tyson Track Center, grabbing the second-best spot in the nation with a personal-best clearance of 7-06.00 in the high jump.
“Our kids showed a lot of focus and determination this weekend,” coach Steve Dudley said. “We had a goal of finishing Top 25 on both the men’s and women’s side, and for us to come here and have two individual national champions and a national runner-up shows just how badly these men and women wanted it. It is a very good day to be a Mississippi State Bulldog.”
Capturing 10 team points on her own, Bougard’s efforts landed MSU a No. 20 finish overall, while the men earned a spot in 12th with 18 points to finish ahead of SEC foes Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU and Ole Miss.
Bougard began the day by clocking a personal-best 8.34 seconds in the 60-meter hurdles to finish second in the event and pick up 1,052 points. After clearing 5-08.75 in the high jump, the young Lady Bulldog added another 916 points to her total, placing her in second after two events.
Later in the day, the Byhalia, Miss., native captured another personal best as she tossed the shot put 36-01.25 to grab an additional 595 points. Following the shot put, the champion long jumped 20-00.50 to give her the lead heading into the final event of the competition.
In speedy fashion, Bougard ran a 2:10.80 in the 800-meter race to capture her third personal record of the day and clinch the indoor national penthatlon title. Her time in the event ranks fourth on MSU’s all-time indoor list.
“Winning my first national championship feels amazing,” Bougard said. “It was great to have three personal records in the shot put, hurdles and the 800. There was a lot of competition today, and I just gave it my all and came out on top.”
Also to see action on Sunday included Jason Harper, who finished 12th in the triple jump prelims at 51-05.00.
Earlier on day one of competition, Brandon McBride posted a time of 1:49.45 in the 800-meter run to finish 11th in the nation as a freshman. Meanwhile, Bougard captured a 12th-place finish in the long jump at 19-09.75.
After returning to Starkville, the Maroon and White will begin preparation for MSU’s first meet of the outdoor season. The Bulldogs host the MSU Invite on Friday, March 15 to kick off another campaign.
Winner: Erica Bougard, Mississippi State, 4,399
Pentathlon 60m Hurdles: Keia Pinnick, Arizona State, 8.22
MSU: 2. Erica Bougard, 8.34
Pentathlon High Jump: Shanay Briscoe, Texas, 6-00.50
MSU: 3. Erica Bougard, 5-08.75
Pentathlon Shot Put: Martina Salander, Harvard, 46-08.25
MSU: 11. Erica Bougard, 36-01.25
Pentathlon Long Jump: Keia Pinnick, Arizona State, 20-05.25
MSU: 2. Erica Bougard, 20-00.50
MSU: 1. Erica Bougard, 2:10.80
60m Dash Finals
Winner: D’Angelo Cherry, Mississippi State, 6.54
High Jump: Derek Drouin, Indiana, 7-08.50
MSU: 2. Marcus Jackson, 7-06.00
Triple Jump Prelims
MSU: 12. Jason Harper, 51-05.00