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Taylorsville Journal

Led by ‘stacked’ distance group, Taylorsville track and field excited to compete

Apr 12, 2024 02:07PM ● By Josh McFadden

Taylorsville’s Cole Jameson (in blue, far left) is one of the Warriors top distance runners. He placed sixth in the track and field’s first tournament of the season, the Snow Canyon Invitational in St. George. Jameson headlines a strong group of distance runners on the boys team. (Photo courtesy of Whitney Lynn Photography.)

Though snow has still been falling and cold temperatures linger, high school athletes have hit the track for track and field season. At Taylorsville, the Warriors have assembled some strong groups to make a run at a region title.

Taylorsville competes in Region 4 of Class 5A. The Warriors have a good blend of experienced upperclassmen and younger athletes, all of whom are working hard to improve. Head coach Chad Farnes has an overarching goal to “ignite success by dreaming big, having fun and working hard every day.”

Taylorsville opened the season in mid-March at the Snow Canyon Invitational in St. George. A total of 60 teams participated, and many Warriors athletes stood out. Sariah Johnson was first overall in the long jump, while Aisha Salami took third in the shot put. On the boys’ side, the 4x200 relay team placed eighth at the meet. Also, junior Cole Jameson, a standout distance runner, was third in the 1,600-meter race and sixth in the 800. His performance in the 1,600 broke the school record. Interestingly, that record stood for 29 years, with its previous holder being Jameson’s father. 

“The team is doing fantastic,” Farnes said. “We had an incredible time going to Snow Canyon State Park and stayed at a fantastic Airbnb. At the meet, the athletes did amazing. Overall, the team had its best showing ever at Snow Canyon, success that we are hoping to continue through the rest of the season.”

For that success to continue and for the team to be at its best, Farnes laid out a few objectives that he expects the athletes to follow. He also emphasized that where athletes and the team place at meets won’t define whether a season is successful.  

“I think focusing on that goal is the big thing,” he said. “We’re really focused on having fun, dreaming big and working hard. If athletes can build confidence in themselves, work every day and have fun throughout the season, I’ll consider it a success.”

The Warriors have multiple distance runners who stand out. In fact, Farnes said that group is “stacked” with talented and accomplished runners. The Warriors’ distance team placed fourth at state out of 24 teams a year ago. Jameson is one of the top performers, but there are others to keep an eye on. Farnes pointed out the efforts and abilities of Edward Stout (sophomore), Kai Makowski (junior), Jonah Andrews (junior), Preston Gledhill (senior), Liamm Passey (senior) and Elliott Stout (sophomore). On the girls side, Johnson, a junior, and Salami, a senior, are the team leaders. 

“All these athletes have put in a ton of time in the offseason to be where they are,” Farnes said.

Depth does work against Taylorsville sometimes. The Warriors don’t have as large of a team as others across the 5A ranks. Farnes would love to see more athletes join the team. He also acknowledges that money is also an issue with the program. 

“I think something that we struggle with is finances,” he said. “Last year, we started a track club for sprinters to continue practicing over the summer. One athlete won her division at the regional Junior Olympics and qualified for nationals. She wasn’t able to go because of financial barriers. We have an incredible team, but one of the biggest barriers to our continued growth and success are the financial strains that our athletes experience.”

Farnes is also grateful for his coaching staff, which consists of eight coaches. The coaches provide daily support to the athletes to ensure their development. He loves coaching this group of track and field athletes. 

“What I enjoy most is the kids,” he said. “We’ve got an incredible group of kids that are enthusiastic and excited about track. They are fun to be around and are making the season really great.”

He also expects a lot out of the athletes. 

As mandated by school and by the Utah High School Activities Association, all athletes must maintain a minimum grade point average of 2.0. Team expectations and rules include attending practice every day, Monday through Friday, and not missing or skipping meets. Of course, Farnes makes allowances for certain issues; he just expects the athletes to communicate their needs ahead of time. Student-athletes who don’t follow these rules may miss upcoming meets or be removed from the team. 

Farnes holds himself and his fellow coaches accountable, too. 

“We will consistently be at practice in order to help out athletes,” he said. “We will create a positive, inclusive atmosphere. We will help athletes to develop to their full potential athletically. We will also help athletes foster friendships with other students. We will support athletes to succeed academically.”

Farnes engages athletes’ parents, too, and asks for their support for their children and for the team. For the Warriors, communication is vital, and Farnes uses text reminders and other media to keep in touch with parents and inform them of any team developments and events. 

Taylorsville will compete in tournaments and meets in April and into May in preparation for the 5A state championships. The championship meet will take place at Brigham Young University, May 16–18. The Warriors will try to qualify as many athletes as possible for state. The more team members that get to the championships, the better chance Taylorsville will have at climbing up the final standings. Taylorsville was a member of Class 6A a year ago but moved down a division this season. λ

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