January 15, 2010 11:01:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- It''s time for former Starkville High School sprinter Tavaris Tate to make his track debut at Mississippi State.
When the Bulldogs begin the indoor season at the Kentucky Invitational this weekend, the collegiate wait will be over for Tate.
Tate expects to participate in the 400 meters when he takes the track Saturday in Lexington, Ky.
"Coming straight out of high school into college, there are a lot of expectations on me where people want to see if my times will hold up as collegiate times," Tate said. "The Lord has seen me through every practice I''ve been through and everything I''ve been through in college. Now the only thing to do is go out there and put it on the track."
Tate has been running track ever since he was 6-years old and he doesn''t anticipate seeing anything different in college than he has while competing on a national level.
He knows the makeup of the oval will be the same.
"A 400-meter track is going to be a 400-meter track," Tate said. "It''s the same everywhere you go. The 400 had just been my race."
He is looking forward to a rematch against Karani James, who beat Tate in the 400 at the United States Junior Nationals.
Tate won the 100, 200 and 400 meters and anchored the winning 4x400 relay team at the Class 5A state track championships for Starkville this past year.
MSU track coach Al Schmidt said the sky is the limit for what Tate can accomplish on the collegiate level.
"Tavaris is one of those guys where you don''t want to put any limits on what he''s able to do," Schmidt said. "You don''t want to put too much on his shoulders, but at the same time, he''s got the kind of talent, background and work ethic where he could win a national championship himself."
Schmidt said this will be an important season for the men''s team.
He thinks the women can be in the top 20 in the country, but the men "have got a real shot at a trophy."
The addition of Tate helps those hopes, but also the return of Dwight Mullings, the SEC runner-up and All-American in the 400 meters.
MSU associate head track coach for men''s sprints Steve Dudley said Tate has looked impressive in training sessions, but is anxious to showcase the entire group.
"The entire group has trained hard and looks forward to the continuous improvement we will have throughout the season," Dudley said. "This weekend''s meet in Kentucky will give our kids a chance to produce a benchmark they can build upon the rest of the season. We will evaluate the performances and continue to train and improve."
Along with the men''s sprinters, Schmidt will take some multi-decathletes to Lexington, while the women will have distance runners and a couple of pole vaulters.
The field events take place at 5 p.m. today, while the running events start at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
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