Taylor Neely is proof a long stride isn’t necessary to excel in the 400-meter dash.
Standing all of 5-foot-2, the Greenwood Community High School junior is among the favorites in that event in today’s girls track and field sectional at Franklin.
In April, Neely established a new Johnson County Meet record in the 400 with a career-best time of 59.43 seconds. She also competes in the 4×400- and 4×800-meter relays and is attempting to qualify for the regional in those events as well.
Neely credits exhaustive training in cross-country and track for her ability to excel in both one- and two-lap races.
“When I first started running track I did sprints,” she said. “I also ran cross-country, and the 400 is kind of a long-distance sprint.”
A two-sport athlete, Neely is a starting midfielder for the Greenwood girls soccer team. She scored 20 goals and delivered 14 assists this past fall.
When it comes to Neely’s two sports, there is a connection, according to Woodmen girls track coach Blaine Williams.
“A lot of Taylor’s success in track just comes down to her being really tough,” Williams said. “She’s a soccer player who carries that mentality over to the track.
“Taylor knows who she’s running against and really wants to compete, and she really wants to win.”
In today’s first event, the 4×800 relay, Neely joins Maddy Renfro, Krista Robinson and Victoria Byrne as a No. 3 seed. Greenwood produced a time of 10:10.80 in finishing second to Plainfield at the recent Mid-State Conference Meet.
Greenwood’s 4×400 relay team, which won the Johnson County Meet championship with a time of 4:13.53, also is seeded third. Joining Neely will be Renfro, Hanna Anderson and McKenzie McClarney.
At different times this season, Neely has either led off, run second or been the final runner in both relays.
“I kind of like running last because it’s more spread out,” Neely said.
Regardless of which order batons are exchanged later today, anticipate Neely again bringing a soccer mentality to competition.
THE NEELY FILE
Name: Taylor Neely
Family: Parents, Jeremy and Kim; sisters, Morgan Whyde, 20, and Sydney, 16; brother, Trevor, 14
Favorite TV show: “Criminal Minds”
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite athlete: Alex Morgan
Favorite team: United States women’s soccer team
IF YOU GO
What: Franklin Community Girls Track and Field Sectional
Where: Franklin Community High School
Time: 5:30 p.m. today
Teams: Center Grove, Columbus East, Columbus North, Edinburgh, Franklin Community, Greenwood, Greenwood Christian, Hauser, Indian Creek, Southwestern (Shelbyville), Waldron, Whiteland