May 3, 2009
STARKVILLE -- Gloria Jamison has a special perspective on Tavaris Tate.
As minister at Columbus'' Maranatha Faith Center, Jamison has known for some time that Tate is destined for great things.
She became convinced of that one day when she was standing at the altar and Tate approached her. At that moment, Jamison said, God showed her Tate would excel as a track and field athlete.
Tate is proving Jamison''s vision correct.
Not only does the Starkville High School senior hold the best time in the state in the 200 meters (20.89 seconds), he also owns the nation''s fastest time in the 400 (45.78).
Tate said he will be as fast as the Lord wants him to be. When asked how fast that is, he said, "Faster than fast."
Those times attracted the attention of the top track and field programs in the country and forced Tate to decide where he wanted to go to college.
In the end, Tate didn''t have to go too far from home, as he picked Mississippi State. Tate made his decision official Friday afternoon when he signed a national letter of intent to compete for the Bulldogs.
"The Lord guided me to Mississippi State," Tate said. "It really didn''t take long because the Lord showed me where I needed to be."
Tate won the 100, 200, and 400 and was a member of the second-place 4x400 relay team last week at the Class 5A-Region 1 meet at Tupelo High School.
On Saturday, Tate was scheduled to compete in the Class 5A North Half state meet at Madison Central.
On Friday, though, Tate''s friends, family, schoolmates, and MSU fans gathered in the Starkville High library to celebrate his college decision.
"He is humble, he doesn''t mind helping out, he is a leader, and he takes charge," Starkville High track and field coach Cleveland Hudson said. "He is a young man you can depend on to get the job done."
Jamison was only too happy to share news of her vision and how blessed Tate is to have received a gift.
But she also wanted to make sure people understood Tate is much more than just another high school sprinter who can run very fast.
"He is a Christian young man, and we need more young men like him," Jamison said. "He comes from a real good family."
Tate''s father, Russell, who coaches Tavaris at the Amateur Athletic Union level, has done every step in workouts with his son, even if he isn''t as fast as Tavaris.
Jamison said it also is special Tate will remain in the state of Mississippi. She believes the opportunity to be close to his father and his family will benefit him and the Bulldogs.
"I think several times he might have been tempted (to go to a school out of state), but Tavaris always will listen to wise counsel," Jamison said. "It was his decision, and we knew he made the right decision."
Tate won the 100 (10.6), the 200 (21.53), and the 400 (45.78) last week at the regional meet. His speed in those events means Tate will be extremely busy for the next few months before he has to report to MSU.
His travel plans include trips in the next month or so to New Mexico, California, North Carolina, and the Junior National Trials in Eugene, Ore.
Tate will have an opportunity in Oregon to qualify for the U.S. team that will travel to Trinidad this summer.
Those meets will happen after the high school track and field season. Tate said he is looking forward to refining his skills and to slicing precious seconds off his times this season and in the future.
"I know every step we made pursuing my goals came true," Tate said. "I have been looking forward to this day since I was young. It is finally here, so I can''t do anything but reach the top."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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