On the heels of her third Top 5 finish in four events, Mississippi State women's golfer Ally McDonald garnered Player of the Week honors from the Southeastern Conference.
"I'm honored to recognized by the SEC," McDonald said. "We've put together a couple of solid tournaments and have really made strides over the last few weeks. As a team, we are continually improving and I'm excited to be part of the program we are building here at Mississippi State. I can't thank my teammates and coaches enough for pushing me along the way."
The sophomore fired a 4-over-par 214 in the SunTrust Gator Invitational, tying the sixth-ranked player in the nation for fourth-place. McDonald paced the Lady Bulldogs to a share of eighth-place alongside No. 6 North Carolina and to a win over No. 18 Baylor.
One week prior to the Gator Invitational, McDonald posted a runner-up finish in the JMU/Eagle Landing Invitational behind a 1-under-par 215; leading MSU to a season-best second-place finish behind 36th-ranked Campbell.
Earlier this season, McDonald claimed her first-career tournament title to wrap up fall action at the Las Vegas Collegiate Showdown. After posting a 1-over-par 145 through the first two rounds, she vaulted up the leaderboard with a final-round 3-under-par 69, one of five 69's thus far on the season.
The Fulton, Miss., native owns a 72.24 average clip this season, which ranks fourth-best in the SEC and 13th in the nation. The average card is on pace to shatter the Lady Bulldogs' current single-season scoring average record held by Amanda Mathis at 74.20.
McDonald is also currently rewriting numerous other MSU records with 38 entries and three events remaining in her sophomore year. She owns the school record for sub-70 rounds (6), second-best first-round score (69), third-best 36-hole score (141) and second-lowest 54-hole score (212, twice).
"This is a tremendous honor for Ally," MSU coach Ginger Brown-Lemm said. "She's been on a tear lately and really battled some of the top individuals in the nation during the Gator. For her to be recognized a second time by the strongest golf conference in the nation is very impressive. She is our leader on and off the course and epitomizes what we are trying to do with women's golf at Mississippi State."
This is the second weekly conference recognition received by McDonald as she was named SEC Freshman of the Week on March 28, 2012. She also garnered SEC All-Freshman team laurels following last season.
The Lady Bulldogs return to action Monday, March 25, in the Briar's Creek Invitational in John's Island, S.C.
Track and Field
On Friday, the Mississippi State track and field team will kick off its outdoor campaign as it hosts the 2013 Conference Challenge, featuring seven teams in a conference showdown at the Bulldogs' Carl Maddox Track Facility.
MSU created and hosted the SEC-Big Ten Challenge for the previous two years and is now expanding the competition. This year, SEC foes Ole Miss and Tennessee will join the Bulldogs to battle Illinois and Purdue from the Big Ten, as well as Missouri State (women only) and Louisiana Tech, representing the Missouri Valley Conference and the Western Athletic Conference, respectively. The Ole Miss men are ranked 11th in the country, while the Illinois women boast the No. 16 spot.
"You're going to see some really great athletes out there this weekend," said coach Steve Dudley, whose men's team enters the meet ranked 14th nationally. "I think fans will find the format exciting. We always talk about conference pride, and that will be evident this weekend."
Scoring at the meet will follow the international system and will be as follows: in each event, first place will be awarded 10 points, second will denote eight points, third receives six points, fourth gains four points, fifth equals two points, and sixth place will receive one point. At the end of the day, all points will be pooled together by conference, and both a men's and women's team champion will be crowned.
"I think I speak for all of us when I say we're fired up for this season," sophomore Ebony Brinker said. "This meet, in particular, is a chance to perform on our own turf, and it's something we look forward to every year."
Action in Starkville begins on Friday at 4 p.m. with the hammer throw and resumes on Saturday at 11 a.m. with the women's javelin. All running events will begin at noon on Saturday, starting with the women's 3000-meter steeplechase.
For more information regarding this weekend's action and MSU track and field, follow the Bulldogs on Twitter (@msutracksarah).
Fans can join the Mississippi State women's basketball team at its awards banquet Wednesday, March 27.
The banquet begins at 6:30 in the Hunter Henry Center on the Mississippi State campus. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased through 5 p.m. Monday by calling the Bulldog basketball office at (662) 325-0198 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fans will enjoy a great meal, highlight video, remarks from head coach Vic Schaefer and players, and the awards presentations.
Mississippi State capped its first season under Schaefer with an upset of No. 11 Georgia that was the program's first victory against a ranked team since 2010.
State won three of its final four home games and finished the year with 12 home wins, the most since the 2009-10 campaign.
State finished the campaign first in the SEC and No. 14 nationally in 3-point field goal percentage defense (25.8%). The squad also rated second in the SEC, No. 21 in the nation, in blocks with 5.1 per game, and fourth in the league at the free-throw line with 70.7 percent, its highest tally since the 2003-04 season.
The team claimed the most rebounds in the SEC this season with 65 in the season-opening win against Houston. In addition to setting a school record with a perfect 18-for-18 showing at the free-throw line against UC Santa Barbara in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, the Bulldogs also blocked the most shots by an SEC team this season with 13 against Florida Atlantic. The squad's 11 swats against Alabama on Feb. 21 tied Tennessee for the most in a league contest this year.
Individually, Martha Alwal and Kendra Grant paced Mississippi State with 12.1 and 11.8 ppg. Alwal earned All-SEC accolades from both the coaches and Associated Press in addition to winning the Gillom Trophy for the state's top female college basketball player.
Alwal topped the SEC with 9.7 rebounds per contest and rated second in blocked shots (2.6 bpg) and fourth in free-throw percentage (78.9%)..