Williamsport, Pa. — Allen Taylor will leave Williamsport as one of the most decorated track athletes in the school’s treasured history of top runners.
The impact Taylor is most proud of won’t be hanging on a wall or etched into a record book. It will be on the track next to him as he competes at the PIAA Track and Field Championships Saturday.
Moments after stepping off the podium during last weekend’s District 4 Track and Field Championships, Danville’s Brandon Zimmerman credited Taylor for everything he has earned since joining the track team his freshman year.
“I’ve raced against him since my freshman year,” Zimmerman said. “I know how good of an athlete his is.”
Taylor is an incredibly talented athlete. It’s easy to measure his abilities by looking at him. It’s even easier to measure his accomplishments, because most end up around his neck as gold medals.
The true measure of his legacy can be seen by the impact he has on others around him. He has created a group of District 4 Class AAA athletes that have pushed to be in his class.
Zimmerman is one of those athletes, and Taylor loves it.
“He’s made Districts a competition and not just a ticket to states for me,” Taylor said. “This was one of my favorite Districts even though he took that 300 win away from me that I wanted.”
Taylor was all smiles when he watched Zimmerman step up to the podium last week as the District 4 Class AAA Champion in the 300 hurdles.
“We are very good friends outside of track,” Taylor said. “I text him often. I think he’s a very good athlete. It’s amazing watching him progress over time and get to my level and push me.”
Taylor wanted that top spot in the 300, but he wanted success for his friend, who he regularly texts back and forth with.
Taylor and Zimmerman did not shy away from the competition against each other. Both embraced it. Both are now friends.
“It made me realize track is all about competition,” Taylor said. “When you have people your age that you inspire and make them want to be stronger, it makes you feel like you’re somebody. I’m very grateful to have people like that.”
For Taylor, the track and field season was in jeopardy for a long time as he dealt with a lower body injury. His District 4 dominance was impressive considering it was just his second meet of the season.
“I’m definitely trying to soak up as much as I can from this season,” Taylor said. “It’s going by quick. I have States this weekend. Then it’s done.”
It will be that quick for Taylor, who is used to quick events on the track.
The feeling will be different as he departs for college after a hugely successful athletic career at Williamsport.
“I have summer track, but I might just rest since I’m coming off injury,” Taylor said. “I want to make sure I’m completely healed and strong enough for college. I’m just focusing on soaking up this last week of high school track in and making the most of it.”
Despite the long wait and quick turnaround for Taylor, the injury and lack of a junior season seemed to help him. Taylor is supremely confident as he heads into States Saturday. It wasn’t always that way.
“I wasn’t in a good spot mentally,” Taylor said. “The injury sealed it. It was a good year for me to rework my mind and get ready for my senior year.”
Taylor struggled to get back from the disappointment of his junior season. The senior reworked himself, his body, and his mind and put on a dominant performance once back from injury.
“Last was what I would like to call a blessing in disguise, because before going into outdoor season I was a little upset,” Taylor, who injured himself right before the season, said. “I wanted to make up from the year before. I made a mistake.”
Since that mistake, Taylor has become a more seasoned athlete. He plans each race out better. He tracks his opponents as the prepare to work. He has changed his approach.
“It’s not so much pressure as it is strategy,” Taylor said of the 110 Hurdles. “I need to look at my competition and see what their weakest part of the event is and what their strongest part is. If they come out strong, I need to come out strong. If they close hard, they I have to close hard.”
He also understands the pressure that comes with being the top-seeded runner entering Saturday’s 110 hurdles.
“Me being seeded first gives man an opportunity,” Taylor said. “I have an opportunity to win. I want to get after it as hard as I can. That’s what I’m going to do.”