By Richard Greene
Coming around the final curve in second place, only a sprint down the straight-away separated Northwest’s Troy Taylor from a state medal Saturday morning in Austin.
“All I was thinking about the last 100 meters were all the workouts I’ve done for this race, and how hard I’ve trained for it,” Taylor said. “It gave me the motivation to keep going.”
In near perfect running conditions, Taylor crossed the finish line in 9:05.07 to bring home the silver medal in the Class 5A 3,200 at Mike Myers Stadium at the University Interscholastic League track and field championships.
Taylor ran nearly nine seconds better than his previous best for the distance.
“I know I did everything I could if I PR’d,” Taylor said. “I did a great job. I’m pleased with myself.”
Northwest coach George Lutkenhaus praised the senior’s hard work and dedication that led to Saturday’s career-closing state medal.
“No one deserves it more than that guy with the love he has for what he does,” Lutkenhaus said.
Cypress Woods’ Craig Nowak won the race in 8:59.72.
Taylor was even with Nowak entering the bell lap. Nowak started to pull away with 300 meters to go.
“I thought I could go with him,” Taylor said. “But he runs like an 8:48. I knew he had the kick to go on the last lap.”
The race started with a conservative pace. With all nine runners packed together, they completed the first lap in 71 seconds.
“I expected us to go out super fast or super slow,” Taylor said. “We went out slow that first mile. I was ready for the hammer to drop and it did the second mile.”
Lutkenhaus said the pace was to Taylor’s advantage.
“Everything worked out like we needed,” the Northwest coach said. “There was an honest pace from the start. He stayed out of trouble and held on long enough to get to the last lap.”
Taylor stayed in a pack of three with Nowak and Hebron’s Kevyn Hoyos that completed the first mile in 4:39. The trio began pushing the pace getting through 2,400 meters in 6:56.
“I kept hanging in there,” Taylor said. “I knew I’d be able to. I’ve felt pretty good in my workouts. I’ve been doing some pretty hard intervals and knew I could hang with anyone.”
Nowak moved to lead by the end of the sixth lap. Taylor passed Hoyos, who beat him at the Class 5A Region I meet, before taking the bell for the last lap.
“I knew it could be anybody’s race,” he said. “With a lap to go I was still in second, so I was just going to go for broke.”