The 2019 track season could be dubbed The Season Of Taylor James.
The Niwot (then) sophomore - a 17:37 5ker - took a hard left-hand turn down in distance, exploring the realms of the sprint world - running the 100, 200, and 400 most weeks.
She found great success in the 200-400-800, and even achieved a rare triple, winning state in those three events.
It's common for sprinters to dabble in the 100-200-400 triple, or distance runners to triple in the 8-16-32, but who does the 2-4-8?
Taylor James, or, who in their meteoric rise to the national stage has earned a nickname, TJ perhaps? I'm open to suggestions...
What made her outdoor season all the more impressive was that she didn't just win state in three events, but she ran fast.
She ran personal bests of 24.46 in the 200, 54.25 in the 400, 2:05.83 in the 800 (a US No. 3 at the time), and a 4:59 in the 1,600 - and a 5-6 high jump.
To put it in another perspective - against Colorado's best she was No. 6 in the 200, No. 2 in the 400, No. 2 in the 800, No. 9 in the 1,600, and No. 9 in the high jump.
Add that her 2:08.29 800 state title was a 4A state meet record - and she ran practically ran it solo.
At one point she owned US Top-10 marks in both the 400 and the 800.
The sheer dominance of her performances across a variety of events - particularly her 2:05.82 800 victory at the Music City Distance Carnival - land Taylor James as the No. 6 Story of 2019.
Excerpt from "Flashback Friday: Taylor James Drops A US No. 3 2:05.83"
"Sure, this performance is only a week old - but did you see that last 100 meters?
It was insane.
Taylor James dropped perhaps her best performance of her very young career at the Music City Distance Carnival in the 800.
The Niwot sophomore (soon-to-be-junior), and two-time half-mile State champ sat in second place through the opening lap, which the pack cruised through just over 61 seconds. Despite a near-fall after being tripped just before the 400 was reached, she held her pace and regrouped.
Down the backstretch it appeared that nearly everyone was still in the hunt, though James sat in the most ideal position to kick for the win, and that's exactly what she did.
With 200 meters to go she kicked hard and around the corner. With 100 to go the race was down to two. James moved out to lane 2 - then lane 3 when Bailey Goggans moved out and off the rail. Despite kicking from one lane outside the Lane Of High Hopes (Lane 2), Lane 3 became her Lane of High(er) Hopes, and she rocketed by Goggans with 40 meters of real estate remaining.
James crossed the finish line without anyone breathing down her back, in 2:05.83 for the second fastest half-mile in the country, a huge personal best, and the biggest win of her young career.
As incredible as James' run was, she wasn't the only Colorado half-miler with a big result.
Alamosa's Lilly Lavier had a huge race of her own, running a four-second PR of 2:08.57 to finish fourth, and Keely Jones capped her Valor Christian career with a 2:14.22 finish to give Colorado its third top-10 performer. "