One long runway and one person. A sandy pit awaits for shoes with spikes on the bottom to touch down into it. The person runs, jumps and lands as the crowd cheers and awaits the results.
This is what Chico State’s senior triple jumper Derek Taylor lives for.
“Three right backs,” Taylor said. “Right back, tippy toes. Right back, tippy toes. Right back, tippy toes. Big breath, then go!”
This is the typical routine Taylor always does before each big jump to help get him in the zone, which he has been doing for five years.
Taylor kicked off his career on Chico State’s track and field team as a redshirted first-year athlete.
NCAA rules only allow college athletes to participate in the program for four years, so most athletes who plan on attending college a little longer redshirt in their first year.
Taylor’s five years as a Wildcat are winding down, and his senior year is slowly coming to end along with his track career.
But senioritis has not hit Taylor on the track, where he is still killing it in the triple jump.
At the Stanford Invitational on April 3, Taylor triple jumped a half a foot further than he ever had before, making his personal best of 47 feet, 3 3/4 inches.
Not only did he post a personal record — which is hard for most athletes to do — he also had the third-longest leap in the conference this season.
Taylor said that he could not be happier with his results this season as he has seen improvement in his game every meet.
While most jumpers do both the triple and long jump, Taylor no longer competes at both events. He wanted to focus more on triple jump because he was better at it and it is the event he enjoys the most, he said.
Taylor is working on making a national qualifying to move on to the National Championship in Michigan in May.
Not jumping too far toward the end, Taylor is not thinking about his track career being over. He said that he is trying to just live in the moment and enjoy every jump he takes.
The amount of support he gets from the crowd along with his head coach Robert Nooney will always be something Taylor will cherish, he said.
“A lot of people do not know what a triple, long or high jump is,” Taylor said. “A lot of the fans who do come out to support us come for certain jumpers. We get some good crowds. (I’m) not saying that more people don’t watch the 100-meter, but we get some love.”
He will not continue running after this season. Taylor will officially hang up his spikes and move on to work for a general contracting company, he said.
From dyingl at practices to competing in the California Collegiate Athletic Association Championship, Taylor said that he will always remember all the memories he has made in Chico.
“Getting that clap down the runway in front of your home crowd,” Taylor said, “your whole team coming to watch you preparing for a big jump has to be my best experience here as a Wildcat and (is what I) will miss the most.”
Breanna Barnard can be reached at [email protected] or @beeebarnyardd on Twitter.