Three years ago Taylor Yerian was a wide-eyed freshman at West Holmes High School, having the good fortune of qualifying for the Div. II state track meet along with an ultra-talented group of sprinters who showed her the ropes and helped bring her along.
One week prior to the state meet Yerian found herself at a crossroads at The Plains regional. A regional favorite to move on, Yerian hammered a hurdle early in the 300-meter hurdles, sending her sprawling. She quickly scrambled to her feet, and in one of the gutsier efforts of the season, came roaring back to qualify for the finals.
“If I can fall in the regional semifinals, get back up and qualify, I deserve to be here,” Yerian said of performing at state.
Ever the savvy veteran, she would advance to state with confidence, and on Friday, June 2 she would run in the prelims of the 300-hurdles, knowing it could be her last race if she did not qualify for the finals.
That simply put, was not an option. She had come too far and overcome so much to have that happen. Not here, not now, because this hard-nosed senior competitor was not going to let the semis be her final memory of a wonderful career.
Yerian ran a 45.58 in the prelims, qualifying eighth of the nine qualifying spots in the final.
With that hurdle cleared, there was but one thing for her to do: Go out in a blaze of glory by capturing a top-eight spot and All-Ohio status.
“I couldn’t let anything stand in my way,” Yerian said. “There was just no way I was going to let that semifinal be my last run. It wasn’t going to happen. I was in the box (in prelims), and I kept repeating to myself, ‘This is not my last race. I have 600 meters to go, today and tomorrow.’ It was so hot. My feet were burning, and I had no idea what my time was. I was just hoping and praying it would be good enough to get me into the finals.”
It was, and the 600-meter mantra had paid off.
In the finals Yerian almost duplicated her prelim time, running a 45.68, and as she crossed the finish line, she had seven runners in front of her and one behind her, but all that mattered was that she had accomplished the one remaining goal of becoming an All-Ohioan.
Her career will now be easy to identify as she joins the all-time greats adorning the Knights Wall of Fame.
She said the trek from a wide-eyed freshman to a veteran hurdler was due to several things. “I think just from a confidence standpoint and learning to believe in myself, that was such a big key,” Yerian said. “I also think having a lot of trust in my coaches was big for me. I think those things really helped me believe in myself.”
Former head coach and hurdles coach Rich Patterson has had the pleasure of watching Yerian come up through junior high and develop into a sensational hurdler in high school. He said her guts and determination have gone a long way in carrying her to greatness as she continually showed incredible heart.
“We knew early on she was going to be pretty special,” Patterson said. “She came in at the right time too with a great group of senior leaders willing to show her the ropes. That rubbed off on her, and she has carried on that tradition by being willing to work with our younger kids. Now to end her career as an All-Ohioan, how can you beat that?”