MESA — No one, perhaps not even Logan Taylor himself, could have envisioned becoming a state champion in his condition. Just five days prior to the state track and field championships at Mesa Community College, he suffered a gruesome injury to his right knee that required 20 stitches.
Taylor, a senior at Maricopa, limped into the state meet but was leaping for joy Saturday afternoon after a surge of adrenaline carried him across the finish line in first place in the Division II 110-meter hurdles.
His roars of “Yeah! Yeah!” pierced the air as he bounced up and down with excitement. Even a gimpy knee couldn’t stop him from winning a state title.
“I was kind of screaming a little bit; I was pretty excited,” he said, smiling.
And Taylor was surprised when he cocked his head to the side and didn’t see anyone else, realizing he was going to win the race.
“It was like the best feeling ever because I didn’t think I even had a chance at it going into finals,” he said. “I was ranked last place (after prelims) in the ninth lane. I didn’t do well in my prelims, but my finals were awesome.”
When Taylor spoke to PinalCentral on Wednesday after he ran his 110-meter hurdles prelims race, he was just happy to finish the race and qualify for the finals. At that point, a state championship seemed highly unlikely, if not impossible.
But Taylor wouldn’t be denied this time. He summoned up all his determination and went out on top, finishing with a time of 14.64.
After recalling the details of his knee injury, he said it was “more of a miracle” that he took home first place. And he drew on the finality of the moment for some added inspiration to carry him home.
“The leg feels almost the same (as Wednesday),” he said. “It was a little bit more painful during prelims, but right now, it was just really tight, and it’s kind of sore and a little swollen … I was thinking to myself, ‘This is it, this is my last meet of high school. I gotta go get it if I’m gonna do it right now.’”
Taylor also ran in the finals of the 300-meter hurdles, but he landed awkwardly on his right leg after clearing a hurdle and was in obvious pain as he limped off the track after the race. He still managed a sixth-place finish at 41.07 seconds.
Taylor wasn’t the only state champion for the Rams, as Tylen Riley-Coleman also brought home a state title in the discus with a throw of 172 feet, 8 inches. He also grabbed fourth place in the shot put, chucking the stone 50-10.5.
Maricopa sprinter Jacob Cowing had a legitimate chance to bring home state titles in the 100 and 200 meters. He blazed his way to a state runner-up finish in the 100 (10.78), and he took third in the 200 (21.95), ending his high school career with two medals.
Rising star in Florence
While some high school careers came to an end, some are still on the upswing.
Florence junior Taylor Wilson put on a great showing for the Gophers, as she took fourth place in the Division III long jump Friday (16-10.5). But she wasn’t done.
Wilson took it up a notch Saturday, as she leapt her way to state runner-up in the triple jump at 36-7.5.
“I felt a little nervous at first, but once I started jumping, it started to get a little better and better,” she said.
Looking back at Friday’s performance in the long jump, Wilson said she could have done a little bit better. She came into the state meet with the second-best long jump in Division III this season. However, she was pleased with taking fourth place.
Coming out Saturday and performing even better was on her mind, and for her, it just required added focus.
“Zoning out everything that’s going on (was important) because when you’re in your head, you make yourself have a mark (in mind) and you get below that mark,” she said. “You’re just free, you just jump, and you do good.”
With another year left in high school, Wilson has her sights set on goals she wants to reach as a senior.
“I want to become a state champion next year for long (jump) and triple,” she said.
And she also has goals for once she graduates high school. She wants to earn a college scholarship for track and then start her career as a police officer.