There isn’t much Saginaw Boswell’s Lakan Taylor can’t accomplish athletically when she puts her mind to it.
Growing up, Taylor was a standout gymnast with quite the talent on the uneven bars. Taylor transitioned into competitive cheerleading and jumped right into the new sport.
Her sophomore year, Taylor got the itch to take up basketball. Having no prior hoops experience didn’t matter much — Taylor made the team.
Taylor could have had the opportunity to earn a UIL state gold medal and a full-ride scholarship to Alabama in just about any of those sports. Instead, she tried one more in her freshman year — pole vaulting — and it would be her ticket to that success.
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This weekend, Taylor hopes not only to repeat as the state’s top Class 4A pole vaulter, but she also hopes to break the current girls state record.
The Boswell senior’s career-best vault is 13 feet, 10 inches. The state record, set in 2010 by Mansfield’s Shade Weygandt, is 14-1/4.
Still, it’s no easy task.
“At this height, every inch is a lot,” Taylor said.
In the 5A girls pole vault, Justin Northwest’s Desiree Freier and Grapevine’s Zoe McKinley will be competing for the title. Freier posted a 13-7 mark last month in an area meet. McKinley is in with a regional qualifying height of 12-9.
Taylor and Freier practice at the same vaulting club, Elite Sportz in Haslet.
Taylor is making her third trip to the state meet. In March she competed at the New Balance Indoor National Championships in New York, testing her nerves on one of the country’s biggest stages.
She finished fourth in her flight, and then two weeks later catapulted herself into a career-best performance at the Texas Relays in Austin. There she cleared 13-10 and took her first crack at the 14-foot mark.
“When you see the sign say 14 feet you say, ‘My gosh, this is one of the best vaulters in the nation,’” Boswell track coach Dave Daus said.
This year, heading into the state meet, that sentiment is shared by all of Taylor’s competition as well. She knows she has more than a number pinned on her back.
“I’m a lot more prepared this year,” Taylor said. “I had girls last year that I knew I had to bring my game, so it’s different coming into a competition I know I can win.”
That said, for a girl who has had so much success picking up new sports on almost the first try, it’s that first try this weekend that gives Taylor the most butterflies.
“The only thing I think about is I have to make my first jump,” Taylor said. “I just want to clear that one because after I clear that one, I can jump however high after.”