Fear is something almost all hurdlers must overcome in order to be successful.
Running full speed and jumping over barrier after barrier, all standing more than half your height, is a daunting task because failure almost always results in pain.
Cameron Taylor can’t remember ever being fearful of running the hurdles, something he began doing at age seven.
“My older brother was hurdling, so it was always fun for me to hurdle,” said Taylor of his early track days while living in Hawaii. “My first hurdle race was against some older kids on the team. I lost, but I still enjoyed it. I always thought it was fun.”
Hurdling has been a part of Taylors life for 12 years and will likely be a part of it for several more. The recent Westwood graduate grew into one of the best in Arizona history in both the 110-meter high hurdles and the 300 intermediate hurdles. He won both of those events at the Division I state meet and earned the Tribune’s Boys Track Athlete of the Year award.
For Taylor, his senior season was one of mixed results. He began the year with a hamstring injury that kept him sidelined for the first few weeks of the season. He won the Chandler Rotary Invitational in the 110 hurdles, but reinjured his hamstring in the process.
He gradually got back to full speed by the time the state meet rolled around and folks got a look at his vast potential.
He first won the 110 hurdles in 13.81 running into a pretty strong headwind. That time is the fifth-fastest ever run by an Arizona high school athlete.
In the 300 hurdles, Taylor surprised even himself when he won in a lightning-fast 37.05.
“After winning the 110’s I knew I could let it all loose and relax,” Taylor said of running the 300 hurdles. “I got out even harder, and once I got out in front, I knew I could rely on my strength the rest of the way.
“I was surprised when I saw the 37.05. At first I thought the record was 37.1, so I thought I got it.”
The record is actually 37.01, set in 2006 by another Westwood hurdler, Cylend Simmons. Taylor’s time ranks No. 3 on the all-time Arizona charts.
Taylor had planned to compete in several more national-caliber meets this summer, but reinjured his hamstring while preparing for the Great Southwest meet. He plans on taking it easy for most of the summer now, getting back into the weight room as he prepares for the next phase of his career at Arizona State.
“One of the things I took from last couple years is that I could tell what years I was strong, lifting, working on flexibility,” Taylor said. “My sophomore year, I was not strong. Junior year, I was strong and healthy. Senior year, after being hurt a couple times, not getting to the weight room, I could feel it. I’ve got to stay in the weight room, stay strong, stay flexible.”
A healthy Taylor will likely pay immediate dividends at ASU. Taylor does nearly all of his training on hurdles set at 42-inches (high school hurdles are 39 inches), the height they run in college, so he’ll likely be able to adjust quickly.
“Training on the 42s really cleans up the technique,” Taylor said. “There’s no margin of error, but I’m very comfortable running the college hurdles.”