MSU interim track coach Woods taking blue-collar approach with program

Mississippi State track interim head coach Chris Woods

Staff Writer

Several times the last few track and field seasons, Mississippi State has found itself as a top-10 team at the end of the year.

As impressive as that is, Bulldogs interim head coach Chris Woods wants more.

Woods begins his first indoor season as interim coach today when MSU travels across the state line over to Birmingham for the UAB Blazer Invitational. Woods hopes it can be the start of a solid year as the Bulldogs start building for what they believe can be a great future.

“Last year, our women finished in the top 20 in the country, so that’s something we want to duplicate or do better,” Woods said. “This year, we feel like our men, indoors, can be a top 20 to top 25 team and that will set us up and kind of catapult us into being what we feel like can be a very special year for us on the outdoor side.”

Woods took over the MSU track and field program last September following the resignation of Steve Dudley. He seems to be a good fit for the job as he’s a former Bulldog himself, having competed as a middle distance athlete for MSU from 2005 through 2008.

He has a wealth of coaching experience too. He spent the last five years as a sprinters and relays coach for the men and women at Mississippi State. Before that, Woods was the head coach for the men’s and women’s cross country and track and field teams at Claflin University in Orangeburg, South Carolina. Woods has also spent time as an assistant coach at Abilene Christian University.

Now, he’s leading his alma mater and trying to take the Bulldogs to great heights.

“I’ve been a head coach before, so I’ve been in this position before and I know that you have to take it one day at a time,” Woods said. “In anything that you do, you want to plan all the way to the end, but you can’t go into every day with the end in mind. You have to go into that day trying to accomplish the goals that you set for that day. Eventually, you end up reaching the goals you want to reach.”

The Bulldogs will be utilizing Woods’ one-day-at-a-time strategy this weekend. Woods is using the event at UAB to develop his squad.

“For the most part, a lot of our kids won’t be running in their primary events,” Woods said. “A lot of them will be running secondary events and trying to work on some auxiliary things that, as a staff, we have been working on to better improve their performances.”

Woods wants the UAB event to be a steppingstone to the rest of Mississippi State’s schedule.

“When we did the schedule, we wanted to set it up to maximize the successes that we are going to have this year, both indoor and outdoor,” Woods said. “We feel like we have done a great job of that.”
Woods understands it’ll be a process to get the Bulldogs exactly where he wants them to be. Ultimately, he says he wants to help make MSU a top four program. He knows that’ll take a tremendous amount of work.

However it all can’t be done in a day. This weekend is just one step in the direction of Woods’ long term goal.

“We’ve got to take it one meet at a time, one season at a time and right now our focus is on the indoor (season), keeping the individuals that we feel like are going to help us healthy, which is important,” Woods said.