Starkville High's Tate gearing up for more firsts

April 21, 2009

Danny P Smith -


STARKVILLE — Starkville High School senior sprinter Tavaris Tate is on track to do something that has never been accomplished in Class 5A. 


Tate is trying to become the first prep runner in that class to win state titles in the 100, 200, and 400 meters. 


He can be a part of four Saturday if he can lead the 4x400 meter relay team to a win at the Class 5A Regional meet in Tupelo. 


Tavaris’ father and Amateur Athletic Union coach Russell Tate, and Starkville High track coach Cleveland Hudson believe Tavaris has a great opportunity to win four firsts May 9 at the state meet in Pearl. 


“To win the 100, 200, and 400 is very rare, but he has a great chance after looking at the times posted in the district,” Russell Tate said. 


At the Class 5A, Division 2 meet, Tate posted winning times of 10.5 seconds in the 100, 21.32 in the 200, and a 46.8 in the 400. 


Tate knows he is within striking distance of what he wants to accomplish, but he wants to remain focused and determined. 


“For the last couple of weeks I’ve tried to be smart about my decisions,” Tate said. “I know I’m doing something that hasn’t been done. I’m just trying to stay healthy and hope to continue what I’ve been doing.” 


Tate broke the 200 record with a time of 20.8 at the Meet of Champions in Mobile, Ala., three weeks ago. 


The thing that made that effort so impressive was Tate had a stomach illness in warmups that weakened him considerably. 


After his father gave him a bite of a protein bar and some energy drink, Tate ran for the record. 


“The Lord just really blessed him to run a record-breaking time in the 200,” Russell said. “It was also the No. 1 time in the nation this year. We were very much pleased at the overall performance.” 


Tate opted to skip a Nike event in Columbia, S.C., so he could build his strength for the district meet. 


After setting the top time in the 400 (47.84) at the Nike Indoor Nationals last month in Boston, Tate is trying to reach that same status outdoors. 


Reggie Wyatt, of California, owns the No. 1 time in the 400 (46.38). 


Tate wants to hold the No. 1 time for indoor and outdoor in the 400 before he signs a college scholarship. If he can reach that time Saturday, he could sign as early as Monday. 


Tate has narrowed his college choices to Mississippi State and Texas A&M. He knows winning all three individual events at the state meet would help Starkville’s chances of earning a team championship, which is important to him. 


“It would be a big accomplishment for myself and my team,” Tate said. “I’d be helping put points on the board and also meet goals for myself.”