What was already a fantastic season on the track at Mississippi State has got even better for Erica Bougard and Scottie Hearns.
Now, the entire world will see their talents on display.
In a year that saw them set personal and Mississippi State records, sophomore Erica Bougard now turns her focus toward the 2013 IAFF World Championships in Moscow, Russia, while freshman Scottie Hearns sets his sights on the U.S. Junior Outdoor Track & Field team in Medellin, Columbia.
Bougard punched her ticket to Russia after placing third in the heptathlon at the USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a personal-best 5,990 points.
"Going out there and competing with all those older women made me push myself even more. I was just out there doing what I know to do and what my coach told me to do, and it worked out for the best," Bougard said. "I was in shock for a little while because I didn't think I'd get top three because in the last event, it was a close competition for second, third and fourth, and we all ran a fast 800."
Hearns won the 400-meter hurdles for the USA Junior Outdoor Track and Field Championships with a time of 51.01, a solid .41 seconds faster than the next runner.
Earlier this year, Bougard took the crown as the NCAA Indoor pentathlon national champion. The Byhalia, Miss., native set the school record with 4,399 points.
Bougard finished second in the heptathlon at the SEC Championships, winning the 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash and the long jump. She set a personal and MSU record with 5,786 points ? a mark she would soon break at the NCAA Championships.
Less than a month later, Bougard continued her outstanding performance in the heptathlon and finished fourth at the NCAA Championships, where she again broke the MSU record with 5,976 points.
The trip to Russia will not be the first overseas experience for the sophomore. Last year, she competed in Barcelona at the women's Juniors competitions.
"I know it'll be a great experience. I don't know too many people, but the tracks are all the same, so if I go out there and do what I know to do, I think I can get Top 10," Bougard said.
In just his first season with the Bulldogs, Hearns finished third at the SEC Championships in the 400-meter hurdles with a personal-best time of 50.56.
Representing MSU in such prestigious competitions adds another layer of motivation/excitement for the young Bulldog stars.
"Coming here, I never would've thought I would be where I am now," Bougard said. "I came to get an education, and track was a bonus and I enjoyed it, so representing the school is great. I have days where I don't want to run at all because it's so stressful at times, but I know at the end of the day that I'm a great performer, and that's a bonus."
Competition in Moscow is set for Aug. 10-18, while Hearns will be Columbia competing Aug. 23-25.