Published on May 11, 2008

PETALUMA -- Jacque Taylor knows what it takes to win. As a competition-toughened veteran of 
many high-profile races, the Casa Grande sophomore is considered one of the top distance and 
middle-distance runners in the state.

Saturday at Petaluma High in the Sonoma County League championship meet, Taylor ran away 
with victories in the 1,600 and 3,200-meter races.

Starting in lane one in the second tier of 15 runners in the 1,600, Taylor cruised to a quick 
lead after just 200 meters. At 400 meters, she had a nearly a 20-meter advantage. She 
increased the lead to more than 50 meters in the second of four laps, and then gradually added 
distance on her competition to win, unpressured, in 5:01.94.

Erica Cunningham of Casa ran past Petaluma's Isabel Andrade in the stretch for second, while 
Eva Luu, another Casa runner, was fourth.

``It's hard to run by myself, but I've been doing it my whole life, so I'm used to it,'' said 
Taylor, who usually has insurmountable leads in league dual meets. ``In bigger meets like the 
SCL, there is a little more adrenaline.''

Taylor has racked up a lot frequent-flier miles in the past 24 months, competing in meets 
around the country, all of which are intended to place her in races against the best runners. 
At 16, Taylor is already battle-tested.

``I ran in Arcadia and at Stanford, and I went to the national cross country race in Florida,'' 
Taylor said. ``I was the youngest one there. I love running in big races with all the people 
in the stands. It's what I like about track.''

Arcadia and Stanford are considered two of the top high school meets in the country. Taylor 
says running against girls like Jordan Hasay of Mission Prep, the state's top 3,200 runner, 
has been exciting. But more importantly it has given her a sense of what it's like to go 
against the best.

And for those who might think Taylor is just a distance runner, and nothing else, she recently 
ran the 300 hurdles for fun.

``I did the 300s a while ago,'' she said. ``I considered running them again, but my coaches 
wouldn't let me. They were afraid I would get injured. I ran 52.00 and change, and the winner 
was in the low 51s, so I was right there.''

Taylor took the 3,200 in overpowering fashion, her time of 11:02.14 uncontested. Sarah Sumpter 
(Healdsburg), running only her third 3,200 of the season, was second and Isabel Andrade was 

``I'm feeling really good now,'' Taylor said. ``In Florida, I got the flu and had it for a 
long time. At Stanford was my first 3,200 this year. At state, I'm for sure doing the 3,200, 
and I'm talking to the coaches about also doing the 1,600. But, right now I'm not sure if I 
will run both.''

Petaluma, which has developed into one of the Empire's top track and field teams, finished 
the SCL unbeaten in the boys' and girls' divisions. The boys outscored Healdsburg, 174-111, 
to finish the league season at 7-0, and the girls put up 121.5 points to beat second-place 
Sonoma (114) to also finish, 7-0. The Trojans are the defending SCL champs.

``I'm so proud of these kids. Their chemistry, the way they work with each other and support 
each other, that's the best part of this,'' said Petaluma coach Jim Lynch. ``This is the girls' 
first championship since 2005, and my first with the girls.''

The Trojans should be a force next week in the Redwood Empire meet.

``The key to our boys are the runners,'' Lynch said. ``Now we need to have our field-event 
boys step up. We have three of four girls nicked up. We've been trying to baby them along to 
get them ready for this.''

Sterling Lockert, considered a strong threat to medal at MOC and move onto state, captured 
the 800, 1,600 and 3,200 for the Trojans.

Flush with outstanding sprinters, Healdsburg is also expected to make a splash next Saturday 
at Ranch Cotate in the Redwood. In the SCL, the Greyhounds ran 1,2,3 in the 100-meter dash. 
Dante Fountain, Jared Garcia and Phil Lucid were all timed in 11.14. Fountain was awarded 
first with a lean at the wire.

Petaluma's sophomore sprinter Emily Hunt and Healdsburg's outstanding sprinter Eric Arneson 
each picked up four gold medals. Hunt won the 100 and 200 dashes, plus the 100 hurdles. Then 
she ran a fast second leg in the Trojans 4x100 gold medal relay team. Arneson added gold for 
the Greyhounds in the 110 high hurdles and the 300 intermediate hurdles, and helped them win 
gold in the 400 and 1,600 relays.