Five Things to Watch in boys track and field this season
O'Dea's Tatum Taylor is back to take care of unfinished business at the state meet while pursuing a loftier goal — a spot in the Olympic Trials.
Seattle Times staff reporter
A look at five things to watch in boys track and field this season:
1 O'Dea's Taylor has unfinished business, lofty goals
Tatum Taylor wasn't going to compete in high-school track this season. O'Dea's standout junior had planned to focus his energy on working toward a qualifying time that would land him in the 2012 Olympic Trials this summer.
In the end, though, the pull of his teammates and desire to win state championships proved to be too much.
"Just my love for my teammates," Taylor said. "I really wanted to capture first place this year after coming up short last year. I felt like I could have and I should have won, but I didn't execute. I felt like it was just a wake-up call. It taught me a lot about how I've got to come out every day and run the best that I can."
Taylor, second in the 100 meters and third in the 200 at the Class 3A state meet last season, ran the nation's fastest 60 (6.71 seconds) at the Brooks PR Invitational at the University of Washington's Dempsey Indoor in February.
He didn't run in his first high-school outdoor meet until last week because he was recovering from pneumonia. Over the weekend, he competed at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California and finished seventh in the 100 (10.80) and fourth in the 200 (22.21).
While he works on winning the titles that eluded him last year, he is also aiming for a lofty goal.
"I want to go to the Olympic Trials this year," he said. "I've got to run a 10.28 (in the 100)."
2 Mariner's Russell focused for senior season
KeiVarae Russell admits he never channeled much energy into the track season.
As a sophomore and junior, Russell was working toward a football scholarship. Track was more of a way to continue conditioning.
Now that the Notre Dame-bound running back from Mariner High School is a few months from graduation, he decided, "Whatever I'm going to do, I'm going to work hard at it."
So far this season, Russell has run the state's sixth-fastest 100 (11.10) and third-fastest 200 (22.33) in 4A this season.
"It's my last year, senior year," he said. "I want to finish strong, finish off making my own legacy."
3 Liberty's Josh Gordon looks to repeat
When it came to jumping events, Kasen Williams set a high bar, one that Liberty's Josh Gordon tried to match whenever he went head-to-head with the former Skyline standout at invitational track meets. Now that Williams is at Washington, Gordon sees an opportunity.
"When I go to the invites now, it's finally my turn to have the opportunity to sweep," said Gordon, who won the long jump, took second in the high jump and was a part of the Patriots' championship 1,600 relay at the 3A state meet. "I was jumping behind Kasen all year last year, but now it's kind of my opportunity to rise up and shine and I hope to take full advantage of that."
The University of Washington-bound senior is off to a good start in defending his title in the long jump with the state's top mark so far (23-7 ½).
4 Bellevue not hurting for talent in 400 relay
With four football players on his 400 relay team, Bellevue track coach John Hill knows he has a group that expects to win.
"They've grown up in a certain system that's hardworking, goal-setting," Hill said. "What you get out of it is what you put into it. They live up to that philosophy and they're learning how to apply it as track and field athletes, too."
The group, which includes Bishard Baker, Max Richmond, Myles Jack and Reuben Mwehla, has run the state's third-fastest time in the event (43.45) this season — the fastest in 3A.
In addition to being talented, the relay team has depth as well with two other football players, Ari Morales and Joey Moore, capable of stepping in.
5 Interlake's Jordan Todd more than a football player
After setting the state's single-season rushing record (2,681 yards) in the fall, Interlake senior Jordan Todd is showing off his speed on the track.
Todd has the state's sixth-fastest time in the 100 (10.94), which is the top time in 2A so far.
"I'm just trying to get faster," Todd said. "I'm just trying to have fun and enjoy what I have left for high-school sports."