Lake Stevens High School graduate Taylor Roe competes for Oklahoma State University at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 8 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University)

Lake Stevens High School graduate Taylor Roe competes for Oklahoma State University at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 8 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State University)

Taylor Roe competes at the Olympic trials this weekend

Now that the Lake Stevens H.S. graduate’s decorated college running career is done, the pro ranks are next.

After nine strong years in high school and college, Lake Stevens High School graduate Taylor Roe is set to begin the next stage of her running career:

Professional runner and Olympic hopeful.

The chase for the Olympic dream begins Friday in the first round of the women’s 5,000-meter race at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field trials in Eugene, Oregon.

“At these Olympics, I’m still pretty young” said Roe, who was back home in Lake Stevens for a family visit after finishing third in 10,000 meters and sixth in the 5,000 for Oklahoma State University at the NCAA Track and Field Championships on June 5-8 in Eugene. “It would be a very, very, very, very long shot for me. But, in this next Olympic cycle, hopefully I’ll be one of the people competing to represent the U.S. on the world stage.”

Roe, who plans to compete in both the 5,000 and the 10,000 at the trials, knows a thing or two about finding the right pace and accomplishing goals. The 2019 Lake Stevens graduate won nine Washington Class 4A state titles in cross country and track. At Oklahoma State, Roe became a national champion and set multiple school records. In 2021 she was named The Herald’s Woman of the Year in Sports.

In a sport where most reach their peak in their late twenties Roe, 23, plans to play the long game if she’s not able to stun the running world and qualify for the 2024 Olympics. As someone who runs about 80 miles per week, she’ll just put in another 16,000 miles or so and shoot for 2028. Roe said she expects to sign a contract with a shoe company “soon,” which will allow those miles to be on-the-job training.

“I’m just in a very fortunate circumstance where I’ll be getting support from a company and being sponsored,” said Roe, who expects to compete worldwide over the next few years. “It’ll put me in a position where I’m able to focus solely on training.

“When I found out as a kid that you could run as a job, I was ecstatic. That was my firefighter or astronaut dream job. That’s what I wanted to do when I grew up.”

Dave Smith, Oklahoma State’s director of cross country and track and field, believes Roe will get to represent the U.S. at some point. He saw an 18-year-old Roe struggle as a freshman before becoming a national champion as a third-year sophomore in 2022, when she won the 3,000 meters at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Smith, who has coached at OSU for 22 years, said he saw a big change in Roe after the summer of 2021.

“When she came back that fall, she was different,” Smith said. “Since then, she’s been amazingly consistent. In my mind, one of the most consistent, highest-performing athletes in the NCAA over a four-year period.”

What has led to that consistency, Smith said, is Roe’s ability to persist during difficult times that lead to some competitors shutting down. Roe bought fully into Smith’s at-home training regimen during the pandemic, and then began a run of multiple Big 12 Conference victories and top-five finishes in NCAA championship races.

Starting Friday, a whole new level of racing begins.

“I just competed against the best in the nation at the collegiate level, and this weekend it’s competing against the best in the entire United States,” Roe said. “It’s going to be challenging. But, I’m excited to just take the attitude I’ve had — just put myself in it and see what happens.”

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