Taylor claims high jump state title in style with record leap

Taylor claims high jump state title in style with record leap

CHARLESTON — DiamonAsia Taylor wanted to ease into etching her name in the IHSA girls' state track and field history book.

After the Urbana junior cleared 5 feet, 9 inches in Saturday's Class 2A high jump and watched Metamora's Carly Tucker knock down the bar on all three tries, Taylor knew what was next.

Officials asked if the newly-crowned three-time event champion wanted to keep leaping. The 2A state record was just 1 / 2 inch away, set by Springfield's Sara Maxson in 2010.

Taylor answered in the affirmative, asking for a new height of 5-9 1 / 2.

"I was just a little bit nervous," Taylor said. "They told me the record was 5-9 1 / 2 ... so I just wanted to go 5-9 1 / 2 to make sure I'd get it."

But then, Taylor jogged over to the nearby stands and engaged in discussion with Tigers coach Leslie Edmondson and 2018 Urbana graduate Shaniya Howard, who tied for fourth in last year's 2A high jump.

Upon returning, Taylor changed her mind.

She would attempt to surpass 5-10, which she'd done at last Monday's News-Gazette Honor Roll Meet.

Soon, the height was 5-11.

Then 6-0.

And while that last figure turned out to be too steep, Taylor had the entirety of Eastern Illinois' O'Brien Stadium hooked on what she was putting down in the high jump area.

"I just feel like if you try your hardest you can get it," Taylor said. "It feels good. I came in thinking I was going to take it home."

The 5-11 clearance marks a new personal best for Taylor, who achieved a similar outcome in long jump Saturday by soaring 19-1 for 2A runner-up honors.

Back to the main event, though.

Taylor was pushed a little harder this year than in the previous two.

Her closest high jump foe hit 5-5 in 2017 and 5-6 in 2018.

This time, Tucker and Galena's Breya Christopher were hanging with Taylor at 5-7.

"As always, I like the competition," Taylor said. "I feel like it would be no point if there was no competition."

Taylor admits she's accustomed to getting worried as the bar rises. When she vied for 6 feet at the N-G Honor Roll Meet, Taylor never executed an actual attempt.

On Saturday, she got off all three of her bids.

"It was really nice," Taylor said. "I wasn't afraid of the bar. Last time I was, but this time that jump actually felt like 5-10."

Even as more and more eyes shifted toward Taylor's exploits, the reserved youngster kept a straight face before and after each jump.

The exception came when someone in the crowd — perhaps a teammate or one of Taylor's brothers or sisters — shouted out Taylor's first name shortly after she was deemed the high jump winner.

That got Taylor to crack a smile.

She still was grinning while waiting to stand atop the podium for the third consecutive year.

That begs the question: What's left for Taylor to do on this stage?

"Hopefully (win) a fourth time," she said. "And some new events. I wanted to do hurdles this year, but that didn't work out, so I'm going to try next year."