Mike Tate, once again, is a record-breaker.
The Heatherton, Antigonish County native set a new provincial mark for senior men’s in the indoor 3,000m late last month.
Tate, who is a student-athlete with the NCAA’s Southern Utah University Thunderbirds, raced to a 7:56.43 mark during a Big Sky Conference meet, Jan. 27, at the University of Washington Invitational in Seattle.
“I really wasn’t thinking of the provincial record – my focus was on qualifying for the NCAAs,” the Dr. John Hugh Gillis Regional High School product, said.
“I ran as fast as I possibly could.”
Tate bested the record time (7:59.64) established in 2006 by Antigonish native and three-time Olympian Eric Gillis.
“It was certainly an extra bonus,” he said, describing setting the provincial mark as “exciting.”
It is the second time, in less than one year, that Tate broke a provincial mark held by Gillis.
At the Stanford Invitational last March, Tate raced to a 13:39.81 in the outdoor 5,000m, which eclipsed Gillis’ 13:41.85, a time clocked in 2005 in Belgium.
Tate’s time, which garnered a fourth-place finish, is the second-fastest in Thunderbird program history.
“It was an uncomfortable pace,” he said, when asked to describe the race.
In the 20-runner field, Tate said he started in “the front of the pack.”
He was fourth early on, before moving up to third and, eventually, second, by the midway point of the race.
“I started to hurt a bit,” Tate said, with less than a kilometre or so remaining.
By the 400m mark, with the pack tightening, he “started kicking” and was able to catch and pass a few competitors.
“I was able to battle and finish strongly,” Tate said.
Tate noted his performance came on the heels of a “couple bad races” on the previous weekend at Northern Arizona’s Lumberjack Team Challenge.
At this point in the season, the 22-year-old has the seventh fastest 3,000m time in the conference.
“I will be working to get my time down a little bit more,” Tate said.
The top-16 runners from the Big Sky conference will earn spots in the NCCA Indoor National Championships, which are scheduled for early March in College Station, Texas.
He noted he will also focus on the 3,000 and 5,000m disciplines for the remainder of the indoor season.
Cross country campaign
Last fall, Tate competed in six cross country meets for the Thunderbirds, including a program-best fourth-place finish in the 8km, with a time of 24:08, in the conference championships.
When talking about his outdoor campaign, he described it as a “strong regular season.”
Although he battled a “pretty bad cold,” and did not have the type of race he wanted, Tate said the team made the NCCA championships.
For that race, he noted, the focus was on a top-40 finish, which would garner All-American status, with a top-15 to 20 as his personal goal.
“It wasn’t really my day,” Tate said, noting his cold had lingered, of his 77th finish – the third-best mark on his team.
Nevertheless, the Thunderbirds fashioned an 11th place finish, which he noted was the best finish in program history for any school team.
“I wouldn’t say that we were happy, because we knew we could have done better, but it was OK,” Tate said.