Riffel’s Vaughn Taylor sets records at Regina track and field final

Vaughn Taylor already has quite a record collection.

Taylor, a Grade 9 student at Michael A. Riffel High School, made an eye-popping debut at the Regina High Schools Athletic Association track and field championships Wednesday by setting records in three midget boys events — the 100-metre hurdles, the 400m and the 800m.

“I’ve been doing track for quite a while, so I had high hopes and expectations,’’ Taylor said at the Canada Games Athletics Complex, “but it’s always nerve-racking to fulfil what you actually expect.’’

The 14-year-old Taylor was born in Kingston, Jamaica, where he took up track at the age of three.

“Just like you start hockey really early here, you start track really early in Jamaica,’’ Taylor explained.

“Track is something that coaches put you in first to see what you can do. If you don’t do track, there’s cricket and horse racing and other things. There are lots of things to do, but track is the Number 1 thing to try.’’

Taylor’s family moved to Vancouver and spent a handful of years there before relocating to Regina in 2013. He subsequently joined the Steve Gersten-coached Queen City Striders track club.

Last August, Taylor travelled to Vancouver for the national championships and placed second in the midget boys 800m. He was also sixth in the 300m.

Taylor returned to the podium Wednesday — in a big way.

Taylor’s time of one minute 59.25 seconds in the 800m erased the standard of 2:05.60, which was set by O’Neill’s Aaron Molnar in 1999. Matthew Exner of Riffel, who earned this year’s silver medal in 2:01.45, also eclipsed Molnar’s record time.

It was a similar story in the 400m, in which Taylor and Exner both beat the previous record. Taylor completed a lap of the track in 51.30 seconds, with Exner next in line at 52.24. Usher grad Cameron Katchuk had owned the mark of 52.70 for 20 years.

In the 100m hurdles, Taylor posted a time of 13.76 seconds. The previous record of 14.30 was set by Winston Knoll’s Alden Adair in 2001.

“I feel that God gave me this talent to reach a certain point and to share my gift with essentially the world,’’ Taylor said.

Taylor wasn’t the only record-breaker on Day 1 of the city meet.

Campbell’s Chloe McEachern won the midget girls 800m in 2:19:49, bettering the record of 2:20.51 that Riffel’s Karissa LePage had established in 2006.

McEachern was also close to a record while winning the 400m in 1:00.85. Barb Neeb of Usher has held the midget girls record of 1:00.20 since 1984.

“I was happy about (the 800m record),’’ said McEachern who, like Taylor, is a Grade 9 runner with the Striders. “I could have got the 400 record, but I’m still happy.

“My PB (personal best) in the 400 was a little faster than the record, so I was pretty positive that I’d set the record, but I still had to do my best.’’

McEachern won three gold medals Wednesday, registering her other first-place finish in the midget girls javelin.

Jane Milligan of Sheldon-Williams was Wednesday’s other record-setter, winning the midget girls pole vault with a height of 2.55m. Christine Pituley of Winston Knoll set the previous record of 2.42m in 2001.

Like Taylor and McEachern, Campbell’s Michaela Allen earned three gold medals on Wednesday, winning the senior girls 100m, 400m and 800m.

The city meet is to wrap up today, with competition beginning at 1 p.m. Top competitors will advance to the Saskatchewan High Schools Athletic Association championships, which are set for June 5-6 at Century Field in Yorkton.




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