Olympic View runner wins national title
Taylor Roe has found herself a new love: Running.
A sixth grader at Olympic View Middle School, Taylor won a national title in the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships held Dec. 8 in Albuquerque, N.M.
Taylor, 12, finished first in the 3,000-meter race for 11- and 12-year olds with a time of 11 minutes, 4.9 seconds. She ran against 263 other competitors in the girls’ midget class. The runner-up finished almost 10 seconds behind her.
“It was great knowing that my hard work paid off, and that I just found out I really enjoy running,” Taylor said.
She also won both the state and the regional races, with times of 11:29.75 and 10:55.00, respectively. She had comfortable margins over the runner-ups in each race. With the title, Taylor earned All-American status for her age.
“She’s only run three races in her entire life, so to have that level of success was quite a shock to us,” said her dad and coach, Lawrence “T” Roe. “She’s pretty gifted.”
Taylor ran unattached to any team – she’s too young to join the Olympic View Cross Country team – but she did train with them as a sixth grader. She is the team manager.
She trained closely with eighth grader Cullen McEachern, OV’s top runner and district champion. He has also raced in the Junior Olympics.
“He was the fastest kid on the team, so she figured this is the guy to run with,” Roe said. “He was nice enough to let her go with him on his runs.”
Since she wasn’t on the OV team, she wasn’t allowed to run any of the meets. So her parents entered her into the Junior Olympics for her very first race. She won that race, as well as her second and third.
“We just thought, ‘Well she’s done all this work, why not just let her go run a race or two?’” Roe said. “We never thought it would work out like this.”
Taylor broke the tape about 11 seconds ahead of the runner-up in Seattle on Nov. 10 and about 18 seconds ahead in Spokane on Nov. 17.
Albuquerque was the slowest of her three races, likely due to the 5,000-foot elevation.
With each race, Roe wondered whether the next level of competition would challenge Taylor, and if she would be beaten – but she never was.
He thought: “It might be an inspiration for her if she went up against girls that were a little better than she was,” Roe said. “And then, quite to my surprise, she ended up winning.”
Her winning streak was so unexpected that Taylor and her dad didn’t even go to the awards ceremony in Albuquerque. The USATF had to send Taylor her championship medal and All-American hat in the mail.
Cross country runs in Taylor’s family: Both her mom and dad were college runners, one sister runs at Kamiak and another sister runs at Olympic View.
Roe said Taylor’s sisters don’t love running as much as she does, though.
“I love to go outside and just run,” Taylor said. “I don’t know what makes it enjoyable, but I love it the way it is.”
When she isn’t running with Cullen, Taylor runs with her parents, Jennifer and T Roe. They coached her before each race.
Even as runners themselves, Roe said sometimes it’s all they can do just to keep up with her.
“She has a very, very high sports IQ,” he said. “I talk a lot of tactics and strategy with my girls about running, but somehow she’s able to not only hear what we say but execute it.”
Taylor has always been a fast runner. Her nickname in PE at Mukilteo Elementary was “Jet” because she could run at or below a 6-minute mile. She won the Presidential Physical Fitness Award every year.
She said she is looking forward to training with the OV team as a seventh grader, and racing with the team. She wants to run in the Junior Olympics again, too.
Taylor is also a point guard for the Mukilteo Knights girls’ basketball team, but she likes running better. It’s all she wants to do and think about now.
“If you like something enough, you’ll try hard,” she said. “It’s dedication. I hope I will be able to do it for a very long time.”