There's a reason Tavaris Tate has a bigger smile on his face than normal this week.
For the first time in his track career, the Mississippi State sophomore sprinter gets to perform in his hometown.
All through his competition during the summer on the national level, at Starkville High School and his first year with the Bulldogs, Tate has had to take his talents on the road.
With the renovations to the Spencer Stadium/Maddox Track, Mississippi State will host its first track event in two years with Saturday's SEC-Big 10 Challenge.
"I'm looking forward to it because a lot of my family and friends that I grew up with really haven't seen me run except on television," Tate said. "Much of my support comes from home. Being I'm from Starkville and having the crowd come to enjoy Mississippi State track and field, not just me, it's really important to me."
Tate has been attempting to get back in shape after a severe hamstring limited his performance at the USA Nationals over the summer.
He tore some muscle fibers in his hamstring, but was confident that with his faith in the Lord that he could overcome the injury.
"All praises to the Lord because going into USA Nationals, I was hurting, but I knew the Lord had brought me this far and wasn't going to give up on me," Tate said. "Running finals (at USA Nationals) was basically on faith and going into (Saturday's meet) my faith is still trusting in the Lord. I can run, have adrenalin flowing and hurt myself even worse than I am, but the Lord covered me last year and He's still covering me now."
Tate said he's been rehabilitating over spring break, taking it slow and not trying to rush anything in terms of his recovery.
Even though the anticipation of running in front of the home crowd is high, Tate knows the importance of what's down the road this spring.
"The season is going to be long," Tate said. "I've just been doing what I'm supposed to do, stretching my leg up and getting the mobility back in it. I wouldn't say I'm 100 percent because I'm still rehabbing and doing what I'm supposed to be doing to strengthen it. As far as getting on the track and giving it my all. I'm able to do that."
Mississippi State track coach Steve Dudley has indicated that Tate appears fine and will run the 400 and 4x400 at Saturday's meet.
Tate has been surrounded by coaches that have brought him along going into his second year of running with the Bulldogs, but still holds dear the opinions and instruction of his father Russell.
"Every day and every hour I talk to my dad at practice about what we have to do and how we need to do it," Tavaris said. "That's just how me and my dad have been in settling down and understanding the race I have to run and what I am running. That's been a big key this year because last year I really didn't put my races together so me and my dad have sat down and put races together about how to run the 400. That will be a vital part."
Saturday's SEC-Big 10 Challenge will get underway with the field events at 9 a.m. and running events at 1 p.m. The action continues until approximately 6 p.m.
Tate is anxious to see how the people of Mississippi State and the community support the event.
"I'm ready to see the people that love track and field, love what we do and see the crowd happy," Tate said. "To represent Mississippi State is what I'm ready for."