May 12, 2009
STARKVILLE -- There was a gasp in the crowd at Pearl High School last Saturday afternoon when Starkville High School senior sprinter Tavaris Tate took the baton for the final leg in the 4x400 relay, rallied from third place and ran away from the pack in the final race of the Class 5A state track meet.
After the event, the crowd used words like incredible, remarkable, and amazing to describe what it had witnessed.
What those people saw was Tavaris Tate the runner.
What they didn''t see was Tavaris Tate the person, and that''s what helps him be so successful.
"It''s the inner person and drive to be the best he can be," Starkville boys track and field coach Cleveland Hudson said. "He''s been everything positive for us and an inspiration to the guys that have been around him and our program. He represented Starkville High School with dignity and class."
Tate became the first athlete to finish first in the 100, 200, and 400 meters at the 5A state meet.
For his accomplishment, Tate is The Commercial Dispatch Prep Player of the Week.
Tate''s winning times were 10.48 seconds in the 100, 21.73 in the 200, and 45.71 in the 400.
And while his victories helped the Yellow Jackets win their second consecutive state team championship, Tate insists the championship wasn''t about him, but about his teammates, Hudson, and God.
He said it was just as important to have Quartez Rogers win the 800, take second in the 1,600, and third in the 3,200 and for Josh Henley to get the two points he did in the shot put.
Tate considers his effort just another part of the Yellow Jackets'' title.
"By me coming through, staying focused and winning all three of my events to get most of the points helped us get the state championship two years in a row and that was big for me," Tate said. "I wanted my last year to be special for myself, my team and for coach Hudson."
A stomach virus prevented Tate from practicing the week leading up to the state meet. The illness had weakened him and he wasn''t sure how he would perform.
Tate depended on God to give him the strength to compete.
"I take no credit because the Lord was with me the whole day and seeing me through everything I went through," Tate said. "I would have liked to have known the times I would have ran if I was healthy. I was pleased with everything I did."
Tate bettered his national-best time in the 400 of 45.78 that he set April 25 at the Class 5A, Region 1 meet. He has the second-best time nationally in the 200 (20.89) and improved to 20th nationally with his state meet time in the 100.
The Tate family has a strong faith and never fails to put God first.
Russell, Tavaris'' father, believes his son will continue to be blessed in his future track endeavors if that continues to be the case.
Russell sees Tavaris'' decision to sign with Mississippi State, which he made official earlier this month, as a new beginning. He said he is proud of Tavaris'' obedience and willingness to do what it takes to be successful.
"God has enabled him to go on to college and be able to run," Russell Tate said. "Beyond that, only God knows. As believers, it''s whatever God''s destiny is in track and field and nobody can hold him from that. We''re headed toward it."