McMullen County’s Caeli Taylor finished eighth in 12:33 in the 1A state cross-country meet at Old Settlers Park on Nov. 3.
“It was hard. It was a great accomplishment, but it wasn’t what I wanted,” said Taylor.
Taylor led a Cowgirls team that placed 15th in the state meet during a windy morning.
Chloe Taylor finished 104th in 14:34. Ashlee Miller was 118th in 14:57. Makenzie Sherrer took 122nd in 15:02. Bailey Garcia was 131st in 15:17.
After winning the Oct. 22 regional, Caeli Taylor was racing to win the state race, but was unable to keep pace with top runner Mattie Lovell of Claude, who finished 22 seconds ahead of her and 10 seconds ahead of the secondplace finisher. Taylor kept her within eyesight throughout the race
Taylor ran into a headwind during the first half of the race. A tough hill near the halfway point combined with the wind to create a challenge before she could use the wind at her back during the second mile.
She was in the top six at the one-mile mark with a time of 6:06.
Taylor, a junior who had run in the state meet as a freshman and sophomore at Industrial High School in Vanderbilt, ran in a pack line down the final stages of the race. In the last stretch, she found herself trying to hold off one who was behind her while trying to catch two who were ahead of her. But she ended up two seconds behind Maddie Hooker of Yantis, Emma Kleman of Nazareth and Jorja Bessonett of Cumby Miller Grove. The dip near the finish line did not help.
“I fought at the end, but it was the other ones at the end who had a greater kick. My fight near the end needs to get stronger,” she said, adding that she will be working to improve her kick. Taylor said that the wind had a big impact in the race.
Taylor, who will be one of five Cowgirls returning next year, will have a chance to return and contend at the state meet next year. She also said she will work to become mentally stronger.
“I need to work on not being as tight in the race and I need to get more mileage,” she said.
Taylor will get ready to run track and field in the spring with hopes of making the state meet after competing in regionals last year in track and field.