Plenty has changed in the nearly 30 years since Tate Nelson graduated from Santa Monica High School. He went to college. He established a career. He settled in Colorado.
But there’s at least one constant that the former two-sport standout can, at least for now, claim as untouched.
Three decades later, Nelson still holds the Samohi boys track and field record that he set in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 38.25 seconds. He figured the mark had been broken long ago.
“I’m shocked the record still stands,” he said.
Numerous new sprinting standards have been established on the boys side in recent seasons, according to Vikings coach Tania Fischer. Kavoisea Ford, Marcel Espinoza and Justin Sardo set new respective program bests two years ago in the 55-, 100- and 550-meter events. Espinoza added fresh records in the 200- and 300-meter races last year.
Nelson noted that his time in the 110-meter high hurdles was broken shortly after he graduated. The school best in that event is 14.25 seconds, a time logged by Tyson Murphy in 1994.
“With the caliber of athletes we’ve had at Samohi,” Nelson said, “it’s amazing my name is still up there.”
According to Fischer, the time Nelson recorded in the 300 hurdles in 1986 has not been defeated by any of his Vikings contemporaries.
Nelson, who graduated from Samohi in 1988, excelled in track and football in his prep career, earning first-team all-Westside recognition as a senior defensive back under then-coach Tebb Kusserow.
Nelson pursued football in college while studying communications at the University of Colorado, where he was a free safety and special teams player for the Buffaloes. He was a member of three Big 8 championship teams and CU’s national title squad in 1990, when it finished ahead of Georgia Tech in the Associated Press poll.
That landmark campaign was highlighted by the so-called Fifth Down Game, when the Buffs were mistakenly awarded an extra down in their controversial 33-31 win over Missouri.
The pride Nelson felt for his collegiate alma mater drew him back to the school athletic department in 2012 as executive director of the Alumni C-Club and associate director of development. He stepped down this past winter.
“I’m proud to be a Buff, always have been and always will be,” he once wrote. “Whether we’re winning championships or struggling through rebuilding years, I still wear my Buff colors with pride and still maintain my commitment to the University and to the current athletes.
“Once you put on that uniform with Colorado prominently displayed across the chest, you are a Buff. At that moment, you join a privileged group of the precious few people that will ever know just how amazing it is to compete in the shadows of the Flatirons. You can’t explain to someone exactly what that means, it has to be experienced.”
Before going back to CU, Nelson spent about 20 years in California and Colorado as a litigation support specialist. Whether in technology, client services or database management, he cleared numerous hurdles, much like he did in his time at Samohi.