After arriving at the 36th Annual Pearl River Track & Field Holiday Festival on Thursday, Clarkstown South Coach Raymond Sussman told Najee Taylor to compete in the long jump.
“I didn’t really know why,” Taylor said.
While Taylor has competed in the long jump before in earlier years, he wasn’t pleased with his distance of 20-06.00 at Thursday’s event. He said has performed better in the past in the long jump.
Still, his score was good enough to earn him a first-place finish at the event, which drew teams not just from Rockland County, but from elsewhere in New York and New Jersey.
He also competed in 55 meter hurdles, finishing seventh with a time of 8.90 seconds.
“I wanted to do the hurdles, so I could work on improving my form” the Clarkstown South junior said. “And then I usually do the high jump.”
Competitors were limited to two events, so Taylor had to sit out of the high jump on Thursday.
“It was his first time he long jumped this year, and we plan on using him down the road in a bunch of different events, so we wanted to get him a mark for the season,” Sussman said. “He’s also a pentathlete, so he’s going to be competing in a bunch of different events this year.”
As for his day running hurdles, Taylor felt like there was definite improvement.
“I’ve been having issues with my trail leg,” he said. “I wasn’t getting it up high enough and was hitting a lot of the hurdles.”
Taylor’s 8.90 in the hurdles was a new personal best.
“I finally feel confident in the event,” he said. “I felt better in the prelims and semis than I did in the finals, but before today I wasn’t even making the semis or finals. I think in the finals today I hit my leg on every single hurdle, though, so there’s still a lot of room to improve.”
Sussman thinks that Taylor is also putting his front foot down too far in front during the hurdles, which is something he told the junior to work on moving forward.
“He’s going to be a a really pivotal part of this team,” Sussman said. “He’s shown that he’s ready to step up too. He came into the year in really good shape. Last year he wasn’t in as good of shape, and I thought that while he did well, he could’ve done better. This year he’s really improved and I think he’s going to flourish the rest of the season leading up to county meet time.”
For more coverage of the Pearl River Holiday Festival, click here.