Tony's Take: Tatum David Is In A League Of Her Own

The great Tatum David is all smiles after breaking Kayla Beattie's state championship meet record


WATCH Tatum's race

My mother once said, "You don't appreciate a good thing until it's gone." I never really understood that sentiment until it actually happened to me on a few occasions. I've always tried to appreciate great outcomes in track and field when they arise. 

It's hard to be been over 30 years for me in the sport either as an athlete, fan, coach, or media person. In that time frame, I have witnessed many iconic moments. Among those has been the rise of the girls in the two-mile/3200m. I remember seeing girls running the 2.1 miles in cross country to 5K in this state. The times have steadily dropped and the participation rates continue to rise.

For someone like Tatum David, she entered the golden era of distance running in this state at the perfect time, more than three years ago as a freshman for Olney (Richland County). It was particularly satisfying watching her enter the fray with the elite girls in the state in which she ultimately produced the fastest three-mile time merge in the state by a second over the 3A champion Katelynne Hart of Glenbard West in 16:04. 

Hart would eventually encounter David during the 2019 post-season. Senior vs. freshman, Hart was victorious three times over the 5000m distance. They never met on the track in 2020 as Covid-19 shut down things prior to the outdoor season.

The mantle was passed to David who eventually transferred to IMG Academy in Florida just prior to her sophomore season. In her limited time on the track, she enjoyed success which included being a part of two indoor national titles: 4x800 and DMR at the adidas indoor nationals. However, as fate would have it, David returned prior to her junior year as this story depicted: RETURN HOME STORY.

David cruises in her 2023 IHSA 2A 1600m State Prelim


Just like Cinderella, Tatum has enjoyed a storybook senior year which included another state title and All-American honors during the cross country season. On the track, she broke the all-time indoor mile time in a mind blowing 4:38.80. Only Hart has even been under 4:45. 

David's name has to be considered in the distance goat status after taking down the all-time state 3200m record. It was done in April at the Herrin Invitational in a US#1 time of 9:48.94. What does this mean?

The pundits love record-breaking performances and comparing and pitting athletes amongst each other, whether it's good or bad for the athlete or the sport. Either way, David knew that she would take down Kayla Beattie's 12-year-old state meet record of 9:56.96. 

David chose the fast route to record-breaking in her customary fast start to break her opponent's thoughts of even challenging her. The blistering 69.7 opening circuit led to a 2:19.5 first 800m. 

At the halfway point, David's time of 4:50.44 would be faster than any girl in the state who entered the event could run. Still, she was still two seconds behind Beattie's 4:48 first half. 

Running completely solo from the gun, David somehow mustered the courage to polish off the final few laps in 76.4, and 71.1 to clock 9:53.96 with a standing ovation and one record that may stand more than a few years.

Here is a hearty congratulations to Tatum and I wish her nothing but the best in her future endeavors!