By Brett Marshall
It seems just like yesterday that Taylor Savolt left her middle school track and field records and medals to move on to the stage at Garden City High School.
She has medaled in every event (long jump, triple jump, 300 hurdles, 4×400-meter relay) in which she has competed in three years at the Kansas State Track and Field Championships at Wichita’s Cessna Stadium, highlighted by her gold-medal winning effort in the 300-meter hurdles to claim the Class 6A title in a school-record time of 45.05 seconds.
As the 2019 spring schedule was set to launch on the last day of March, the preseason conditioning and workout schedules had been rudely interrupted by a miserable month of March by Old Man Winter and Mother Nature.
But Savolt, now looking at the sunset portion of her stellar career, knows all too well that this is the final hurrah for what has been one of the best careers for a GCHS track and field athlete in school history.
“I’ve just really tried to focus on being prepared as best I can,” Savolt said in preparing for her final season with the Buffs. “There’s not many of us seniors out, so just trying also to help the younger kids understand what they need to do to be successful.”
While many of her classmates, like others across the state, are foregoing their senior spring season of competing, Savolt has no qualms about finishing her career with the same commitment that she has always had.
“I only took about 12 to 15 college credit hours because I wanted to enjoy the high school experience,” Savolt said. “I didn’t want to be going off to college already having enough credits to be out of my freshman year (at college).”
Savolt also relieved a lot of the pressure that comes with an elite athlete during the recruiting process that had begun during her sophomore season. In November, she signed with NCAA Division II Fort Hays State University.
“It’s made everything so much easier getting ready for the high school season,” Savolt said. “We’re working hard. The first two meets have been good, but the marks are not that great. We’re working toward peaking at the end of the season (late May at state track), so that’s our focus.”
Her advice to those freshmen and sophomores who are up and comers?
“Stay open-minded about what you want to do with your career – both athletic and academic,” she said. “When I went to Fort Hays for my visit, it just had a feeling of home and family, and that’s what one of the big reasons for my decision was.”
With her event schedule loaded once again, Savolt is working daily on fine-tuning her long jump, triple jump and hurdle forms, with each event posing different skills. But she enjoys the variety that the four events provide.
“I used to think that the triple jump was more of my favorite than the long jump, but now I think I see them about the same,” Savolt said. “The 300 hurdles is probably my best event, and favorite, and now that I am working more on the 100 (hurdles), I have a lot to do on improving my form. I’ve never been really good at that.”
With each meet in which she will compete this season, Savolt is mindful that it will be her last appearance at each site.
“Some of the thoughts are difficult, knowing that it will be my last time,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s extra special, but I want to do well at each meet.”
Savolt’s biggest competitor in 6A this spring, just as she has been the last two years, is Junction City senior Keiana Newman, who won the state 100 hurdles and lost to Savolt in the 300s one year after the finishes were reversed.
“I’ve kind of known where I’ve been in each season, because I like to look at the leader board (state’s top results),” she said. “Meet by meet, I can where I need to improve so that’s the motivation. It makes me work hard on every event.”
So as her high school career clock continues to tick down, Savolt wants to savor her moments and appreciate the accomplishments.
“I think trying to have fun this season, enjoy my teammates and compete well are the main things for me,” she said. “The seasons go by fast, and it’s hard to believe it’s almost over.”