July 31, 2009 12:21:00 PM
Mississippi State men''s associate head track and field coach Steve Dudley has been an interested spectator of prize recruit Tavaris Tate.
Dudley, who works with the program''s sprinters, has followed Tate to all of his destinations this summer and hasn''t been surprised with the success of the former Starkville High School sprinter.
"He has run basically this summer the way he did in his senior year in high school," Dudley said.
Tate, who won the 100, 200, and 400 meters and anchored the winning 4x400 relay in the Class 5A state championships for Starkville High, will participate in the 2009 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships today through Sunday.
Tate will run the 400 and will anchor a leg of the 4x400 relay, while future MSU teammate D''Angelo Cherry will run the 100 meters and anchor the 4x400 relay.
Even though Dudley can''t be there in person because it is a NCAA dead period for recruiting, he plans to follow the progress of the Pan Am Championships closely.
"We''ve got an incoming freshman girl (Jody-Ann Muir) going to that meet as well, so we''ve been keeping up with everything that''s been going on," Dudley said.
Tate has swept the 400 in all of the meets this summer, including the Atlanta-DeKalb International Prep Classic, the Golden West Invitational, and the Nike Outdoor Nationals.
As Tate continues to win races, the belief that he one day will be an Olympic runner continues to grow.
Tate tries not to think about all of the attention and wants to remain focused.
"Mentally, I''ve been trying to get back to where I once was," Tate said. "I''m trying not to play up to the hype. I just want to go out there and give it all to the Lord because without Him, I would be able to do it."
Dudley believes Tate, a high school All-American, will help the Bulldogs, but he prefers not to speculate what Tate will face after college.
"There are a lot of unknowns to say someone is going to be an Olympian," Dudley said. "I can say with the attitude Tavaris has, he''s going to do what it takes training-wise and attitude-wise to become great. There are so many intangibles to predict what someone is going to do, and I don''t ever do that for anyone or myself."
Southwest Community College track coach Charlie Floyd saw Tate sweep the events at the Class 5A state track meet earlier this year.
Floyd believes Tate has unlimited potential if he continues to work hard.
"He''s special," Floyd said. "He is a top-notch athlete and 400 runner."
Floyd said the only thing that could slow Tate down is his height (5-foot-10), but he believes it''s something he can overcome with his strong work ethic and determination to become an Olympian.
Starkville High track and field coach Cleveland Hudson has no doubt Tate will represent this area and the state of Mississippi well at the Pan Am Championships.
"He is going to make Starkville High School and the city of Starkville proud," Hudson said. "He''s the best track athlete that''s ever come out of Starkville High. He''s the real deal."
John Dye, founder and editor of the track and field Web site Dyestat, has grown fond of Tate and his father, Russell, since they first met.
"They are two of the finest people we have met in our 12 years of meeting people all over the country," Dye said. "Tavaris'' three furiously fought wins over Clayton Parros, of New Jersey, two of them bringing national championships, were thrilling to see. My wife and I wish Tavaris the best of luck as he continues his career."
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