WELLSVILLE - Wellsville senior Shartece Taylor looks to finish her high school career on top.
The last Columbiana County athlete remaining in Division III, Taylor will make her return appearance Friday in the 100-meter dash at the state track meet on the campus of Ohio State University.
"It feels really good, very exciting," Taylor said.
Taylor reached state for the second straight year after she finished second (12.74 seconds) at the Navarre regional last Friday, and she looks to keep the same winning attitude this weekend as she has displayed throughout over her career.
"In her freshman year and sophomore year, she didn't have enough confidence in herself," said Wellsville coach Cissy Wilson, also Taylor's aunt. "As she grew up, she became more mature, and her confidence level went up. Shartece was always the fastest around here, never beat. I think she was afraid to get beat. As long as she gets to this point, she's fine."
Last year, Taylor was the state runner-up in the 100 dash (12.38), finishing six-hundredths of a second behind Katie Mokros of Canton Central Catholic. Mokros will try to defend her state titles in the 100 and 200 dashes.
"I was more nervous last year because it my first year," Taylor said. "There were so many people in the stadium. I walked into the stadium and saw the crowd and I said 'Oh, no,' and I just got nervous."
The large crowd at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium wasn't the only thing on Taylor's mind. A week earlier at the regional meet last year, Taylor injured her hip, and quickly attempted to recover as she saw doctors.
She has been running injured this season while awaiting surgery.
"I've been able to work with the pain," Taylor said. "It hurts when I walk, it hurts when I move, when I stand. It's always hurting."
Taylor acknowledged her health has been her main concern throughout the past year,. Although the pain has only gotten worse, she remained confident over the past year that she would return to state.
"I just kept having confidence in myself that I'd be back," Taylor said. "I just kept working hard even though my doctor probably didn't want me to."
She may not have entirely listened to her doctor, but she did alter her activity in this year's meets. Taylor and Wilson focused on the 100 dash for this year's regional meet, passing on the 200 dash and the long jump.
"She still wanted to compete, but we cut her down to one event," Wilson said. "The long jump would be worse, and we didn't want to put too much stress on, so we decided to focus on the 100 dash."
Taylor's high school academic career has already come to a close as earned her diploma during Sunday's graduation ceremonies at Wellsville High School, but she could have done this all as a Potter.
Growing up in East Liverpool, Taylor chose to follow her family's footsteps and pursue her high school career with the Tigers. Coincindentally, Taylor's cousin Zack English will also run at state today on the East Liverpool boys 1600 relay team.
"My family's from Wellsville," Taylor said. "My grandfather always said, 'I want there to be at least one graduating from Wellsville,' and now there's 25 of us, and I hope my little sister will do really well. She's 11, but she's really tall and athletic."
After her state meet appearance, Taylor will undergo hip surgery in Columbus just days later on June 9. As Taylor recuperates this summer and begins her nursing studies at Bethany College in the fall, the only thing she can do regarding resuming her track career is wait.
"I was planning on running at Bethany," Taylor said. "With this surgery, though, I don't know how well I will be, so I might end up not running my freshman year. I might just start back my sophomore year instead."
Proud of her accomplishments and success, Taylor concludes her high school career as a Tiger without regrets.
"I feel more comfortable down there," Taylor said. "I don't think I would have accomplished as much in East Liverpool than I did in Wellsville."
At last year's state finals, Taylor placed seventh in the 200 dash (25.95) and 10th in the long jump (16-7.75).
Taylor is slated to run in the first of two heats in today's semifinals at 10:20 a.m. The top two in each heat plus the five next fastest times, advance to Saturday's final.