PEARL – James Wilson had some words of advice for his son, Jeremy, prior to Saturday’s running of the 400 meters in the MHSAA Class 5A state track and field meet.
“I told him, ‘Don’t try to keep up with Tavaris Tate. Just run your race,”’ the elder Wilson said.
His son listened.
Jackson Provine’s Wilson ran his race and finished second in 47.80 seconds to the nation’s fastest 400-meter sprinter from Starkville.
Tate, who suffered all week from a stomach virus, smoked his way down the light brown track at Pearl High School for his nation’s-best clocking this season, a 45.71, which topped the 45.78 he ran during the region meet in Tupelo two weeks ago.
The Mississippi State track signee also won the 100 meters and 200 meters to become the first 5A sprinter to win all three events in a state meet.
He capped his record day by running the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay to earn the Yellowjackets their second straight team state championship with 66 points to edge Meridian.
“I just wanted to win,” said Tate, who trailed by 15 yards when he started his anchor lap in the day’s final race. “I saw the other runner’s stride and it was long. I have a quick rotation.
“I knew I’d eat him up.”
Tate’s toughest challenge was beating Natchez speedster Wesley Pendleton in the 100 meters. His winning time of 10.48 was also his season’s best.
“My goal today was to win the 100,” Tate said. “I’d knew if I won the 100 I’d win all three.”
Starkville entered the state meet with just six athletes. Four of those were sprinters – Tate, Billy Shed, Kelsey Thomas and Troy Taylor.
Distance runner Quartez Rogers won the 800 meters and finished in the top three in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters.
“We’re small but mighty,” Tate said.
Added coach Cleveland Hudson, who has headed up Starkville’s track program for 30 seasons, “We have six guys, but they all scored quality points. That’s what we’ve stressed all year – quality.”
Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal