Jaylen Taylor wants to carry on a legacy in his final season at Timberline High School.
More than 30 years ago, Taylor’s uncle, Johnny Taylor, started a family tradition in the triple jump that spanned four seasons.
Johnny Taylor was a three-time Class 3A state champion for Timberline between 1984-86. Richie Taylor, Jaylen’s father, brought home the title for the Blazers in 1987.
“I’ve got some big shoes to fill,” Jaylen Taylor said.
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What the youngest Taylor did on Saturday afternoon at French Field was a leap toward continuing that tradition.
Taylor, a senior, broke the meet record in the triple jump at the Kent-Meridian Invite, posting a personal-best 46 feet, 8 inches.
“I was going after it,” Taylor said.
That mark topped last year’s record — 46-5 1/4 — set by former Federal Way star Mason Sallee, who went on to win the 4A state title last season. Taylor took sixth as a junior (44-2 3/4) before Timberline reclassified as a 3A school.
Taylor, who was named the male athlete of the meet for field events, set the record on his third attempt.
“I got the clap going, got the adrenaline going — 46-8,” Taylor said. “Beat the meet record. … It was a good outing for me.”
Taylor’s mark was a state best in any classification as of Saturday night. He is the only triple jumper in the state to surpass 46 feet this season.
He’s already jumping two feet farther than he was a year ago.
Taylor credits his rapid improvement to his club coach, Nate Wilford, who runs The Flying AJ’s track and field club and has mentored several state champions.
“He knows technique,” Taylor said. “This is just what he studies.”
Taylor said he first noticed his growing prowess for triple jump at last season’s 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict championships.
He set his previous personal best there — 44-9 1/2 in the rain — to place third behind Sallee and South Kitsap’s Albert MacArthur, who have both graduated.
“I was like, ‘I might have something going for me in this event,’ ” Taylor said.
No returning athlete posted a higher mark at the 3A state meet last year than Taylor has jumped this season. Outgoing Bellevue senior Tyson Penn won the meet at 48-3 3/4.
But, a specific distance isn’t what Taylor is looking for come May.
“It’s to win a state title,” he said. “My dad was a state champion … and my uncle was a three-time state champion, so to continue that legacy.”
Taylor also ran a leg of Timberline’s 4x200 relay — along with Aaron Washington, Ethan Duwors and Michael Barnes — which took first at 1:35.45.
Northwest Christian’s Elizabeth Stottlemyre was the only other local athlete to place first. She won the javelin (127-11), edging Sumner’s Rhaven Dean — who currently has the best mark in 4A — by seven inches.
Stottlemyre remains second in the 2B rankings behind Kalama’s Kaelyn Shipley, who tossed a state-best 149-11 on Thursday.
Stottlemyre, a senior, took second in the event at last year’s state championships with a personal-best 145-6.