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Taylor Clayton ran away from the field in November to capture the Class 3A title at the University Interscholastic League cross country championships.
The Decatur senior will now get the opportunity to compete against some of the nation’s best runners on the college level in the Southeastern Conference. Clayton Monday inked his letter of intent to run cross country and track for Texas A&M.
“My parents never gave me a choice,” Clayton joked Monday. “A&M has been thrown on me since birth.
“I talked to a couple of schools, but once I visited A&M, I knew I was going there.”
Since his freshman year, Clayton has established him as one of Class 3A’s top distance runners. He made four trips to Round Rock for the state cross country meet, finishing third as a junior on the state championship team, then running a 16-flat this year to win the individual gold.
“I had the training and coaching. I had to believe in myself to perform,” he said.
Decatur coach Kristina Bird said Clayton made a huge breakthrough last spring on his way to the state track meet, where he finished fifth in 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600.
“He grew into this. We knew he had the potential,” Bird said. “Once he realized how good he could be there was no stopping him.”
Along with his success on the track and cross country course, Clayton has been a four-year varsity letterman in basketball for the Eagles, helping the team to three district titles.
While he enjoys hoops, he quickly realized that running was his chance to compete past high school.
“When I started running competitively as a freshman, things fell into place,” he said. “I was better at running than basketball.”
At A&M, Clayton is unsure what track events he will compete in along with running cross country.
“They haven’t said the 5,000 or perhaps the [1,500],” Clayton said.
He isn’t worried about being able to compete at the next level.
“It’s like every other race. We’ll see who gets to the line the fastest,” he said.
Texas A&M tied Florida atop the standings last year at the NCAA Track and Field Championships.