By Danny P. Smith
STARKVILLE — It seems improbable that one team would have two runners with a chance to combine to win seven state championship gold medals?
But that”s what can happen Saturday for Starkville High School”s Tavaris Tate and Quartez Rogers at the Class 5A State Meet at Pearl High School.
Tate will try to capture titles in the 100, 200, and 400 meters, while Rogers will attempt to win in the 800, 1,600, and 3,200. They will team with Troy Taylor, Kelsey Thomas, and alternate Billy Shed in the 4×400 meter relay.
Rogers knows if he and Tate can take care of business in their races, the Yellow Jackets will have a chance to capture a second consecutive team championship.
“I feel like I can take all of my races,” Rogers said. “Win state, that”s what we”re trying to do. We”re taking six people to state and trying to win it with them.”
The state meet starts at 10 a.m. Saturday with the field events.
Rogers is confident in his ability, especially after winning the 800 at last year”s state meet.
“It made me feel nobody could beat me in the 800,” Rogers said. “It”s just my race, and that”s how I feel about it. I”m going to try and put on a show.”
Starkville coach Cleveland Hudson said Rogers, who has been running track since he was in the eighth grade, has the tools for distance running.
Being a part of the cross country team has helped Rogers” development.
“He runs all year round and that”s what helps him,” Hudson said. “Our cross country program gives him the endurance to train and compete all year.”
Rogers has committed to run at Southwest Mississippi Community College and plans to sign next week.
On Saturday, Rogers wants to run the 3,200 in 9 minutes, 40 seconds, the 1,600 between 4:20 and 4:24, and the 800 in 1:55.
Tate is trying to take state in the 100, 200 and 400, which is a feat that has never been accomplished in Class 5A.
A stomach virus has kept Tate from getting much practice this week, but he believes he will be ready to go by Saturday.
“I feel a lot better (Thursday) and this will be my first day to practice,” Tate said. “This is the exciting point, being the last track meet of my high school career.”
Rogers said he and Tate try to work as a team to benefit the program.
Tate will run the 200 after Rogers finishes the 3,200 to start the running events Saturday. They plan to check on each other”s progress after each event.
“We have a good relationship,” Rogers said. “We”ve been running together ever since the seventh grade. We train together and try to stay strong together.”
With a good place from Josh Henley in the shot put, Hudson believes his team could be in the picture to win a state crown.
“The right combination has got to happen, but everyone has got to perform at their top,” Hudson said. “We”re going at it full steam ahead with what we”ve got and give every ounce we”ve got left. Hopefully things will work out right and we”ll perform at our best.”
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