Although the middle school track teams in Del Norte County wrapped up their seasons on May 16, one of Redwood Elementary School’s star speedsters is extending her season into the summer.
Redwood seventh-grader Gianna Taylor has continued to work with Redwood Track coach Scott Lindsey and former Del Norte High School head coach Samuel Escobar to compete at some much bigger meets than the Red Raiders attend during their middle school season.
“She has been showing up after school every day since middle school track practice got over,” Escobar said. “We make her aware that doing conditioning now and working out now is vital in order to keep pace with other kids, or just to improve. There are a lot of other kids right now that are sitting at home since track season got over, but she is still out here every day.”
On May 24, Taylor was in Corvallis, Oregon for the Oregon Middle School Track & Field State Championships. Escobar said she competed in Oregon because it makes sense logistically to head north. He also added that he is not aware of a similar meet for middle school athletes in California.
Taylor set new Del Norte County records for 7th graders in both the 100 meter and 200 meter dashes this year, but in Corvallis she lowered her personal best times even further.
Taylor dropped nearly 0.4 seconds in the 200 meter dash to take third place overall in 26.63, while finishing in fifth place in the 100 meter dash in a time of 12.83.
“As a middle schooler she was competing against kids of all ages, and she did exceptionally well,” Escobar said. “If you look at her times and compare them to the times in the Humboldt-Del Norte (high school) League — those were killer times.”
According to athletic.net, Taylor’s new PRs would have put her in second place in the Humboldt-Del Norte high school league behind only McKinleyville senior Lizzie Dolan (PR of 12.66) in the 100 meter dash, and Arcata freshman Kayla Jay (PR of 26.22) in the 200 meters.
Taylor also finished in 20th place in the long jump with a jump of 14’7.75, about eight inches short of her personal best in the event. Although Taylor didn’t place as highly in her jumping event, Ecobar said it is an event that the Red Raider has the potential to excel in with a little more work, along with a few other events that she hasn’t gotten into yet.
“She has a lot of untapped potential in the long jump. Her best jump right now is 15-3, but I think with some work by the end of the summer we could probably get her to 16 feet, which would be cool,” Escobar said. “Probably her best event would be something like the 400 meter because she is a long slender girl with almost no body fat. She could also probably do well in some of the longer hurdle races like the 300 or 400 meter hurdles.”
Escobar said he and Lindsey are working with Taylor on her strength, conditioning and technique, while Taylor’s older brother Collin Taylor works with Gianna in the weight room. Though she has a lot of support, Escobar said Taylor is also taking on more and more responsibility for her own success.
“There is a huge difference between where she is now and where she was last summer,” Escobar said. “There is a lot of maturity that has taken place since last year. As a kid sometimes you are resistant to some of the tougher workouts, but this year she is a lot more receptive to tougher workouts.”
Taylor is expecting to be back in action this weekend competing in the 100, the 200 and the long jump in a meet in Tigard, Oregon.
Later this summer Taylor is hoping to qualify to compete at the USA Track & Field National Championships again this year. That will start with the Oregon Association Junior Olympic Track and Field Championships in Portland June 21-24. If she preforms well enough in Portland she would move on to compete in the USATF Region 13 Championships in Bend, Oregon July 5-8 with a chance to qualify for the USATF Junior Olympic Championships July 23-29 in North Carolina.
Reach Michael Zogg at firstname.lastname@example.org .