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Taylor wins state crown in 200, 400

NEWPORT NEWS – For nearly any other track and field athlete, a state championship meet with two state titles and two second-places would be an absolutely brilliant performance.

For Nansemond River’s James Taylor, the senior was extremely proud and happy with state championships in the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes on Saturday and runner-up finishes in the long jump on Friday and the 100-meter dash Saturday at Todd Stadium in the VHSL Group AAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Taylor came into the meet after winning four individual state titles in the indoor season, and with the goal of sweeping the state titles in the three sprint events. Saturday turned out to be mostly sweet, but small part bitter for Taylor by 0.03 seconds in the 100 meters as Green Run’s Dejor Simmons claimed the 100 crown by that narrow margin, 10.65 seconds to 10.68.

Taylor regrouped, and found just enough rest during the hot afternoon at Todd Stadium, to win the state 400 and 200 titles within the next two hours.

“With more rest, I know I could’ve done better than I did,” said Taylor a couple minutes after finishing his day and his Nansemond River career in the 200.

“But you will hear more of me in the future, in college, and hopefully in 2012,” said Taylor, referring to his goal of making the U.S. Olympic Team for the 2012 Summer Games. Taylor has signed a scholarship with Norfolk State, so he will be staying quite close to home while he continues his track and field career.

This weekend alone, Taylor set personal bests in the long jump (25-feet-0) and 400 (47.11). Taylor’s winning time in the 200 was 21.65. Even with those marks and times, there is more potential Taylor sees in the near future.

“Twenty-five is a new P.R. (personal record), but I scratched with (a jump of) 26-feet-6 by about six inches, so I know 26-feet is in me,” said Taylor.

Taylor admitted feeling disappointment, while also congratulating Simmons for coming out on top in their 100-meter showdown.

“He got me, which is a good thing. It’ll teach me not to wait,” said Taylor. “Congratulations to him and I’ll come back and watch him next year.

“It is heartbreaking because I wanted to be in the elite group with LaShawn Merritt and Charles Clark,” said Taylor. Merritt, for Wilson in 2004, and Clark, for Bayside in 2006, swept the 100, 200 and 400 state titles.

King’s Fork’s Allen Kelly finished second in the pole vault in a reversal of the state title battle from a year ago.

Deep Run’s Matthew Armentrout, who Kelly topped last May in pole vaulting’s version of sudden-death overtime, cleared 15-feet-9, nine inches better than his best mark this season, to outlast Kelly.

The one-on-one contest started at 15-feet-0, with both vaulters clearing the bar in their second attempt.

At 15-feet-6, Armentrout easily cleared the bar on his first attempt. Kelly answered with a successful vault on his first attempt, along with his usual loud exclamation, seemingly as soon as he gets over the bar.

At 15-feet-9, both seniors missed one attempt. Armentrout made a little contact on his second vault, but the bar held.

Kelly couldn’t return Armentrout’s challenge this time. Kelly momentarily thought he had success on his second vault as he brushed the bar, briefly exalted on his way down, only for the bar to shake enough to fall off.

Nansemond River’s Ricky Blake finished fourth and with a personal record at 46-feet-8.5 in the triple jump.

“I’ve been training as hard as I could by myself and with the team,” said Blake.

Blake fought through a pulled hamstring to go through six triple jumps and his best mark came on his last attempt.

“You have to look at it like it doesn’t matter…you’ve got to compete if you really want it. It’s my last jump, I only had one left, so I had to go all out,” said Blake.