July 31, 2009 12:22:00 PM
STARKVILLE -- It has been a month since former Starkville High School sprinter Tavaris Tate participated at the United States Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Ore.
The time off has served him well.
Tate has worked to get back in shape to run the 400 meters and to anchor a leg of the 4x100-meter relay for the United States at the 2009 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships in Trinidad today through Sunday.
The three weeks of training have helped Tate move him closer to where he was earlier this summer.
"My body needed this time to work out, get my strength back, and get the training on the track," Tate said. "I had a chance to evaluate everything I did over the summer, sit down, study all my races, and think about what I''m going to do when I go to Trinidad."
Tate, who was a high school All-American, holds the fastest high school times nationally in the 200 and 400 at 20.89 and 45.78, respectively. USA Today recently recognized him as a member of the 2009 All-USA track and field team.
Tate will compete in the 400 and as a member of the 4x400 relay team.
Tate said traveling from meet to meet in June took a toll on him, and he admitted he didn''t have time to get the proper training on the track. He found it difficult mentally and physically to adapt to flying across the country and getting acclimated to new places.
The trip to Trinidad presented another set of challenges, including acquiring a passport.
"(Acquiring a passport) was easy for the most part, but the really challenging part is really understanding I''m running on a World Team," Tate said. "It''s challenging because I''m not only representing myself and Starkville, but I''m representing the United States. It''s a big weight on my shoulders because we''ve got to go out there and represent to the fullest."
Tate won the 400 meters on at the United States Track and Field Championships June 28 in Eugene, Ore. That competition served as the U.S. selection meet for the Pan American Championships.
The preliminaries for the 400 meters are today at Hasley Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain, Trinidad, with the finals later in the day. Tate doesn''t know which leg he will run in the relay.
Tate, who has been nursing a sore hamstring since the U.S. Junior Championships, said he was at 90 percent last week, but it''s still good to cap the 400 at 44.5 seconds in training. He ran a nation''s best of 45.48 at the Great Southwest Classic in Albuquerque, N.M.
With this being the last race of the summer, Tate wants to give his best effort even with a tender hamstring.
"It still gives me problems at times, but I count everything for joy because the Lord has blessed me," Tate said. "I''ve been competing well and I really just want to show how healthy I am. I want to let everyone know that with everything I''ve done this summer that I''m ready to bring it to Mississippi State as I make the transition from high school to college."
MSU All-American D''Angelo Cherry will compete for Team USA, while signee Jody-Ann Muir will compete for her native Jamaica.
Cherry, a rising sophomore and Jonesboro, Ga., native will compete in the 100 and as a member of the 4x100 relay team.
Cherry recorded a personal-best time of 10.04 seconds in the 100 at the 2009 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships where he finished sixth en route to earning USTFCCCA All-America accolades.
Muir, an incoming freshman, will compete for the Jamaican junior national team in the 400 and in the 4x400 relay.
Regarded as one of Jamaica''s top sprinters, Muir is a favorite in the women''s 400.
Competition begins with Muir in the 400 semifinal at 10 a.m.