COLUMBIA — Two years ago, Rock Bridge freshman Taylor McDannold started running track simply because her junior high friends were doing it. Last weekend, she looked like a polished star in the first track meet of her high school career.
McDannold won the 400-meter dash at the Missouri Relays with a time of 1 minute, 3.50 seconds.
"I didn't expect to be able to win, but I knew that if I tried my hardest, I could do well," McDannold said.
She impressed her coaches even more than she impressed herself.
"She surprised the hell out of me," Rock Bridge assistant coach Matt Prescott said. "And what's so amazing is that she doesn't even know what she's capable of. Her, and a lot of these other athletes, are still figuring out their bodies."
McDannold also placed third in the 200 meters in 27.69 and fifth in the 100 meters in 13.58.
Prescott thinks McDannold's hasty success is a result of her desire to win.
"She just has that competitive edge that you want an athlete to have," Prescott said. "I can tell by her workouts. She really pushes past her times."
McDannold, however, credits her coaches. Once or twice a week, the Rock Bridge coaches have McDannold and her teammates run a six-five-four drill, in which athletes run a 600-meter dash followed by a 500 and then a 400.
"I think the six-five-fours have really paid off," McDannold said. "I didn't think they would, and I hated practicing them, but after seeing the outcome I really think they worked."
"Those drills are huge, especially for a quarter-miler like her," Prescott said.
After playing softball in the fall, McDannold said she chose to run track this year so that she would have to compete during the spring. Now, after the Missouri Relays, McDannold and Prescott think she could become a fixture on the Bruins track and field team.
"With having such a good outcome at my first meet, I feel like as I get older, I'll get even better," McDannold said.
"Just given how well she runs her quarter, and how well she finished, she's going to be a vital part to the 4 x 400 when that comes along," Prescott said.