A Taylor-made summer

August 26, 2010 by Les Willsey, AZPreps365

Cameron Taylor found a working vacation this summer wasn't a bad way to spend his time -- not after seeing the rewards that came with it.

Taylor, who started his senior year at Westwood last week, built on a budding career as a hurdler bouncing around the country the past three months. The 5A Division I state champ in the 110-meter high hurdles in May, racked up medals in Lisle, Ill., Pueblo Colo. and Sacramento, Calif. competing in USTAF Junior Olympic events against top competition from across the country.

It was a relaxed mindset that was critical to his success, but also a so-so performance in the first meet after state that jump-started his take of gold and silver medallions.

"It was a traveling vacation with a lot of work involved, but I loved it," Taylor said of his junket. "I found out a lot after the first meet. It was the Great Southwest in New Mexico. I finished fourth. Didn't take it as seriously as a should have. I was too relaxed. My performance there made me focus more for the rest of it."

The Great Southwest took place just a couple weeks after he secured the 5A-I title. The year before at the 5A-I state meet, he finished fourth. The improvement this year in that race was a huge step. He discovered especially so after his disappointing race in New Mexico, that consistent, quality performances were important."I saw there were a lot of colleges (at the meets)," Taylor said. "More than I imagined."

Taylor won golds at Lisle and Pueblo in the hurdles. At the national event in Sacramento, he took home silver. Those finishes were more like it.

"My goal is to get a full ride to hopefully USC or a a Pac-10 school," Taylor said. "With the type of accomplishments he's attained in the last several months plus his solid academic work (a 4.2 grade-point average in Westwood's International Baccalaureate program), his goal is certainly within reach.

Academics has always been a strength in Taylor's life. He plans on majoring in business while competing collegiately and wants to continue running professionally after college. The athletic portion of his equation is what's come on strongest in the last three to four years.

" I didn't start running track until my freshman year," Taylor said. "I really love the hurdles.I played tennis before that and a little football. This last school season I got off to a slow start. I lost a lot of races. I wasn't too confident."

A few tips from his brother, Logan, also a hurdler who ran track at USC and his high school and club coach, James Smith, helped get Cameron back on track.

"I found I needed to concentrate hard on technique in practice," Taylor said. "Then when the meets came I needed to be relaxed."'

Smith saw potential realized with Taylor's efforts this summer. "He trained the summer before his junior year, but didn't compete," Smith said. "There is no substitute for the competition. And he did very well this summer. He's a great specimen for the hurdles. About 6-4, great attitude and listens..... "Running the hurdles is a highly technical event. There is no falling out of the sky and making it happen. He cleaned up his technique a lot over the last several months. Still some more to do on that. We'll work more on his land speed in the time ahead."

Taylor grew up in Hawaii. Living there was like having a vacation every day. Summers were great. Especially the beach.

"I still miss the beach," Taylor said. "But this has been a good summer. A really good summer."