By: Linda Jones and Morgan Sexton
Wayne County Schools
Recent-graduate Taylor West celebrated a State Championship in the 100-meter wheelchair track race on May 18 at University of Kentucky. Taylor has been participating in track since her seventh grade year. This makes her fourth regional and state championship since 2013.
Taylor competes in a specialized racing bike. She uses her upper arm strength to push herself down the track.
According to Taylor, racing makes her “feel like [she’s] in another world”. Travelling to meets helps her get to know athletes from across the state. “It’s a stress reliever”, she added.
It’s no surprise that Taylor is a five-time state champion. Racing is in her blood. Her parents, Greg and Nisha West, are runners themselves. The couple participates in Ultra Running events, racing up to 100 miles together.
Taylor’s brother Nathan is currently a sophomore on the track team. Nathan ran his fastest mile of the year at the Regional Championship. Nathan qualified to race in the mile run at the state competition at University of Kentucky
“We run in the toughest region in class 2A,” explained Track Coach Kevin Jones. “It makes it hard to advance to state championship. I’m really proud that they made it to state.”
According to Coach Jones, The West family is a big part of the running program in Wayne County. Nathan and Taylor were at practice 5 days a week to improve their game. When Taylor wasn’t competing, she and her parents helped with elementary, cross country, and track events.
“Taylor is a big part of the team,” concluded Coach Jones. Although she has graduated, Taylor continues to support the running program. She is going to be missed by her fellow teammates and many others at WCHS, including her paraeducator Donyale Chriswell.
Donyale has been assisting Taylor since Taylor’s freshman year. As a recent middle school and high school cheerleading coach, she has been cheering Taylor on during her high school career. “She’s my buddy, but she’s as mean as a snake,” joked Donyale.
“Donyale has been a good friend to me,” Taylor said. “I appreciate her helping me get around.”
After four years with Taylor, Donyale admits “I’ll be lost without her”. Her final act as Taylor’s paraeducator was helping Taylor move across the graduation stage to receive her diploma. The two plan to remain friends even though Taylor is leaving WCHS.
Taylor plans to continue her education by taking a few college classes in the fall. She won’t be competing in any more 100-meter dashes, but she intends to use a hand-cycle bike at local 5K events.
She could never completely quit racing. Taylor concluded, “It’s a family tradition”.
Taylor is cheered on by other competitors as she completes the 100-meter race
Taylor smiles with her paraeducator, Donyale Chriswell