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Originally published Saturday, April 13, 2013 at 8:03 PM

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Tate planning championship sendoff for coach

A state team track title would be a fitting finish for Federal Way coach Sam Beesley, and his multitalented senior is determined to deliver it.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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FEDERAL WAY — Mike Tate wants to go out a winner.

More importantly, he wants to send his coach out as one.

That's why Tate didn't hesitate to turn out for the Federal Way track and field team again as a senior this spring — even though football is his first love and the sport he'll play at San Jose State next fall.

Coach Sam Beesley is retiring at the end of this season, after 43 years in track and field at various schools and 45 years of coaching overall.

"We wanted to come back and win a state championship as a track team for him," Tate said. "That was our goal at the beginning of the season and still is."

The Eagles placed third in the Class 4A state meet last year, thanks in part to Tate. He took third in the long jump and fifth in the 200 meters in addition to anchoring the winning 1,600 relay and second-place 400 relay.

"He fills in a lot of holes for us," Beesley said. "He's just a great athlete."

That athleticism not only made Tate one of the most feared football receivers in the SPSL the last two seasons, but has helped the Eagles continue a long string of dual-meet victories in track, now stretching into a sixth season.

He was part of the two relays his sophomore year that brought home state medals (fifth in the 1,600 and seventh in the 400), but failed to get past district in his individual events. Last year, Tate was pleased to take the next step and get on the awards podium in the long jump and 200, but he still wasn't satisfied.

"I still felt I didn't do as well as I should have," he said.

And while the long jump is his best event, with a personal best of 23 feet, 3 ½ inches coming into the weekend (a half-inch shy of the school record), Tate says his favorite part of every meet is the relays.

"It's a team thing," he said, "especially with the 4-by-4 at state. It's the last event and the hardest thing to run is the 400, so to get four guys to put their hearts out and do that together is amazing."

The goal this spring is to break the state record the Eagles set in that event back in 2010, a 3:15.26. Tate was an alternate on that team as a freshman.

He said he's aiming for the school record in the long jump as well, along with a state title, and place again in the 200 — all in hopes of achieving that ultimate goal for his coach.

Sandy Ringer: 206-718-1512 or sringer@seattletimes.com

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