Current cross country Co-Captain Chloe Taylor ’18 experienced many firsts when she was seven: her first trip to Dunkin’ Donuts, her first subsequent donut, and the first time she decided to start running. Taylor’s interest in running stemmed from her friend in Massachusetts, whose brother was also friends with Chloe’s brother Jeremy Taylor ’16. When the two brothers qualified for USA Track and Field Nationals, the inspired sisters decided to sign up for the next season of cross country running.
“I started running the next year. The first day of practice [my friend] didn’t show up, but I went anyways, and I ran 400 meters. I was the fastest runner when there [were] people double my size, and I got hooked,” Taylor said.
After moving to Princeton and coming to PHS, her running career began to take off, becoming the top runner and one of three captains for the girls team. But after participating for three years on the middle school team, her initial experience running in high school was not positive.
“My first race was the worst thing that I’ve ever done. It was extremely painful. I [thought I] finished 100 meters before the finish line because I was so out of it… My coach laughed at me because I was so dead.”
That poor result was actually a product of an undiagnosed case of anemia, which Head Coach Jim Smirk had suggested the next day. With continued iron treatment, her times consistently improved.
“Races for the first couple months were pretty crappy, but suddenly my times started dropping at the end of the season, so I got [from] 24 to 22 to in the 20s, and my first varsity race was the last race of the season at Nike Regionals, and I ran 20:48, which was a [personal record] and the hardest course we raced that season, and I finished fourth on the team,” Taylor said.
Coach Smirk recalls that moment, and instead of looking at a poor performance, saw potential in Taylor to become great through her mental fortitude.
“What we saw out of Chloe was a great work ethic, a desire to be there, a willingness to listen to what coaches were asking her to do, and doing it to the best of her ability,” Smirk said. “It was so apparent in her that those things mattered and the sport mattered to her.”
Since then, Smirk attributes Taylor’s mindset toward the sport as a big proponent to her success. One specific examples comes last year, when the team had just lost the county championship to West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South. Taylor had finished fifth with a time of 19:29.99.
“It would have been really easy for her to say, ‘that’s where I’m at, this is the competition level I can handle,’ and kind of just get through the postseason. What Chloe actually did is take a good hard look at the things she could change in the short term to give her the best opportunity to be successful. Instead of being complacent, she actively engaged in what [it’s] going to take to get better, and then she found herself in a position where she qualified for the Meet of Champions three weeks later.”
Although she qualified individually for the Meet of Champions, Taylor devotes a lot of her time toward bolstering the performance of the team. She extends her own devoted mindset to her fellow teammates, pushing them in any way possible.
“Before the state group meet last year … Chloe sends us this huge long message, [telling us] this is exactly what we need to do to make it to [Meet of Champions],” Co-Captain Lauren Cleary ’18 said. “She put down specific [individual] times that we all need to run … Also, she was talking about this mindset that we really need to have during the race, that we really need to be running for our teammates.”
Having grown so passionate about running since that one day in Dunkin’ Donuts, it seems only natural that she has grown passionate about another thing related to that day.
Cleary said, “[She] is able to eat about 57 donuts a week and still run like a beast.”