Gianna Taylor is fast.
The 12-year old Redwood Elementary School student not only broke the seventh grade county records in both the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes as a sixth grader, she was arguably the fastest female under 18 years old in Del Norte County during the 2017 spring track season.
Taylor has continued running through the summer, competing at various USA Track & Field competitions in the region. After a fifth place finish in the 100 meter dash last weekend at the Region 13 Inland Northwest Regionals in Spokane Valley, Washington, Taylor has earned a spot in the USATF National Junior Olympic Track & Field Championships. The national competition will take place in Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, Kansas July 24-30.
Taylor qualified for regionals in both the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes by finishing in third and second place respectively in the Oregon Association Junior Olympic State Championships in Portland on July 1.
Last weekend Taylor was competing against athletes from Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Idaho at the regional competition in Spokane Valley, Washingon — where the top five finishers qualified to move on to nationals.
Although there was a lot on the line in Spokane Valley, the highlight of the weekend for Taylor was meeting some like-minded middle schoolers.
“She likes to meet new friends from other states that enjoy doing the same thing as her,” Gianna’s brother Zach Taylor said in an email to the Triplicate. “She knows many of her competitors from the past few years and has become great friends with some.”
At regionals Taylor took the fifth and final qualifying spot in the 100 meter dash with a time of 13.30 seconds in the finals, but she narrowly missed out on a bid to nationals in the 200 — taking sixth place with a time of 28.24 seconds after running 28.04 in the preliminary round.
Taylor won’t enter seventh grade until next fall, but she already owns the seventh grade county records in both the 100 meter and 200 meter runs with times of 13.22 seconds and 27.72 seconds respectively during the middle school season. Her times are already just a few tenths of a second behind the eighth grade county records — both held by Jennifer Garrison set in 1980.
To put those times in context, the Del Norte High School varsity track and field team’s fastest times this spring — out of all of its female runners — were 13.35 seconds in the 100 and 28.04 seconds in the 200.
Those aren’t bad high school times either.
Brianna Lenover’s 13.35 second mark was the third fastest 100 time in the Humbodt-Del Norte League prelims while Maddison Smedley’s 28.04-second 200 meter dash was good for third place and a medal in the HDN Finals.
“That is the kind of talent that we are dealing with right now,” former Del Norte High School track and field head coach and current assistant Samuel Escobar said of Taylor. “She is really fast and at the level she is competing at she is going to do really well. She is still really young and we haven’t really worked that much with her yet. She can get better. Definitley.”
Taylor has been able to do it all based largly on her innate talents, but recently Escobar and Redwood Elementary track and field coach Scott Lindsey have started puting in some extra time with the speedster.
“She is a young woman that Scott Lindsey and I have started working with just recently. Right now, everything she has been doing she has been doing based on her natural athletic ability, because she is fast,” Escobar said. “What we have been working on is a lot of mechanics, maybe a little endurance, and just some good techniques to help her improve on the ablility that she has.
“She has the potential to do exceptionally well as she gets older, as her body matures, and as she gains some weight. Her speed will carry her into a lot of different events and eventually she would excell at something like the multi-events.”
In addition to competing in sprints like the 100 and 200 meter dashes, Escobar said Taylor’s speed, along with her tall frame, should also allow her to excell in events like the long jump, high jump, triple jump and hurdles.
“If she puts in the work, she could get to the point where she does extreamly well not just in middle school and high school, but at the collegiate level,” Escobar said. “What is good for her right now is that she has a good support system. Her parents have been really supportive and her brothers Collin and Zach have been helping her. The key is going to be maintaining that enthusiasm.”
But before running in college, high school or even seventh grade, Taylor is looking forward to making some new friends among some of the fastest runners her age at the Junior Olympics
in Lawrence, Kansas.
Reach Michael Zogg at email@example.com.