TACOMA — Taylor Roe made a grand return to the top of the state podium.
After a two-year gap since her last state triumph, the Lake Stevens distance-running phenom captured state titles No. 8 and 9 to end her decorated prep career in storybook fashion.
Roe added to her already-incredible medal collection by winning Class 4A girls state titles in both the 800 and 3,200 meters Saturday during the final day of the track and field state championships at Mount Tahoma High School.
The Oklahoma State signee finishes her illustrious prep career as a nine-time state champion, with seven titles in track and two more in cross country.
“She’s the most amazing high school track and field athlete I’ve ever seen,” said Lake Stevens coach Jeff Page, who’s in his 26th season at the program’s helm. “Watching her run for the last four years has been a privilege.
“For the last month, I’ve just been going, ‘I gotta stop and watch and enjoy it, because I’m not gonna see it again.’ … She’s just absolutely a once-in-a-career person.”
Roe’s brilliance helped lead the Lake Stevens girls to a second-place team trophy. It was the best state team finish in girls program history, according to Page.
“We came down here with 12 girls, and just about all of them are going home with medals, and we’re going home with a trophy,” Page said. “So it’s pretty cool.”
Roe began her prep career in dominant fashion, winning a combined seven state titles in her first two years.
As a freshman, she won both the state 1,600 and 3,200 meters. Then as a sophomore, she became the only girl in 4A history to win state titles in all three distance races at the same meet, according to washingtontrack.com. She also won back-to-back state cross country races as a freshman and sophomore.
But after winning all seven state races she’d competed in over those first two years, she went her next five state races without a first-place medal. That included a fourth-place finish in Thursday’s 1,600 meters.
“I had a really rough go last track season and I thought, ‘OK, senior cross country, this is my time,” Roe said. “And then that just didn’t work out, and I was like, ‘What is going on?’
“And so I just said, ‘You know what, this is my last chance. This is the last one.’ And so I just knew that week after week, day after day, if I just kept training and working hard, that I could come through when it mattered.”
Roe began Saturday’s title haul by winning the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 11.9 seconds. Sitting in second place midway through the race, she burst in front early on the second and final lap. Bellarmine Prep’s Ella Borsheim tried to pass Roe on the outside during the final turn, but the Lake Stevens star held her off and pulled away to win by 1.03 seconds.
Roe expertly employed a similar strategy in the 3,200 meters. After running stride for stride behind Julia David-Smith for nearly the entire race, Roe made her move around the final turn. She then surged past the standout Issaquah sophomore on the closing stretch and won by nearly three seconds, crossing the line in a personal-best 10:18.22.
“That 800 was about as textbook (and) perfect an 800 as you could see,” Page said. “And then that 3,200 was the same way. If you made instructional videos about how to run those races, that would be it.”
In addition to her pair of individual victories, Roe starred in the meet’s final race. With the Vikings in contention for a second-place team trophy and best-ever team finish, they picked Roe to run the anchor leg for their 4×400 relay team.
“It was like, ‘Well, whose hand do you put the baton in? How about the nine-time state champion,’” Page said.
So, only about an hour after winning the 3,200 meters, Roe came back and delivered yet another strong closing kick. Showing no signs of fatigue, she passed a runner on the final stretch to give Lake Stevens a third-place medal in a time of 4:01.9. In doing so, the team of Mackenzie Delgado, Keanna Krueger, Ashley Reeck and Roe secured the Vikings their runner-up finish in the team standings.
“Since she’s arrived, she’s done whatever we’ve asked her to do,” Lake Stevens distance coach Stuart Chaffee said. “She’s always done it with a smile on her face, she’s always put her teammates first, and that was just another example. So it’s kind of fitting that that’s how she got to end her career.”
Lake Stevens junior Faith Ayodeji also provided a massive boost in team points, taking second place in the shot put with a personal best of 42 feet, 1 inch. The Vikings’ team of Katherine Hunter-Solis, Miah Allison, Delgado and Aliyah Calloway added a fourth-place finish in the 4×200 relay.
“Without all that stuff, it doesn’t happen,” Page said of the second-place team trophy. “It (took) all those things.”
Yet while it was a team effort, there’s no question who led the way.
“What a day for her,” Page said of Roe. “What a capstone to her high school career.”
Between track and cross country, Roe finishes with a total of 13 individual state medals — including 12 of the top-four variety.
“It’s just remarkable to even think about,” Chaffee said. “She’s just been so good for so long, but track can sometimes be a brutal sport. And it doesn’t always have happy endings, so I’m really happy that her high school career got to end on such a high note.”
OTHER TOP LOCALS
Cascade junior Katie Nelson cleared 5-4 to place second in the 4A girls high jump. She finished one inch behind Skyline junior Alison Kremer, who claimed the state title at 5-5.
Glacier Peak sophomore Aaliyah Collins passed multiple runners down the closing stretch and took third place in the 4A girls 400 meters, finishing in 57.95 seconds. Senior teammate Brooke Wallace placed third in the 800 meters with a time of 2:15.15, helping the Grizzlies to a fourth-place team trophy.
Arlington sophomore Jersey Heiss threw a personal-best 127 feet to claim third place in the 3A girls javelin.