Daniel Taylor added two more national titles to his extraordinary two-year history as a runner for Sandhills Community College and the Flyer men and women both finished among the top 10 teams at the NJCAA Division III Track and Field Championships that concluded in Utica, NY on Saturday.
Taylor, along with Alex Worley and Andrew Bowen with runner-up finishes, and Daniel Hagan and Brianna Spencer with third place finishes, all earned All-American honors. Four of the six men, and five of the six ladies that made the trip, placed in one or more events.
In the second year of the sport at Sandhills, the Lady Flyers finished in a four-way tie for sixth place in the field of 23 teams. The Flyer men finished seventh. Suffolk County (NY) won the team title for the women and Rowan-Gloucester (NJ) repeated as the men's champion.
"Their hearts are so big," Flyers' Coach Jeff Moody said shortly after stepping off the bus with the team at the college just after five o'clock Sunday morning. "It is amazing to look at where they were then and where they are now.
"It has been my greatest honor to coach them. The ones leaving are ready for the next challenge in their lives."
Meet Begins on Thursday with First Events of Decathlon and Heptathlon
The decathlon and heptathlon events got underway Thursday morning at Mohawk Valley CC which was also the site of last year's meet. Worley was defending his 2018 title in the decathlon and Emily Doorey had earned All-American honors by finishing third in the heptathlon.
Going into the final four events on Friday, Worley trailed Grant Bunyard of Howard CC by 510 points.
"The first day wasn't very good, but on the second day I tried to make a little run for it." he said.
Worley won three of the final four events against the eight contestants and was second in the other. He finished in second place by a final margin of 169 points. Doorey came in fifth in the heptathlon and later earned points with a seventh place finish in the discus.
"He went down fighting like the true champion he is," Moody said of Worley's comeback effort.
Also Thursday, Hagan finished third in the men's 3,000 meter steeplechase. Enya Dewars finished fifth in the women's race, but teammate Sara Lindell, who finished fifth a year ago, and was a good bet to contend again, was hampered by an illness and did not place in the top eight.
10,000 Meter Runs Highlight Friday's Action
Early Friday, freshman Hannah Canady competed in the 10,000 meter run for the first time and finished in fourth place. Later in the men's race, Taylor, fell short of the meet record time he set last year, but he and Bowen took first and second place by a wide margin.
"My plan was to keep up with Daniel for as long as I could and that would make it easy to take second place," Bowen said. "And that's how it went."
"It was truly amazing to see them go 1-2," said Moody.
Also Friday, freshman Jalen Easley narrowly missed advancing to the 400 meter final and freshman Jonathyn Knight finished 15th in the long jump.
Saturday Busy for Spencer, Taylor and Claudette Smith
Spencer was in contention for the top spot most of the way in the women's 1,500 on Saturday before finishing third. Several hours later, the freshman took fourth place in the 800 final.
Also doubling up, were Taylor and sophomore Claudette Smith who finished fifth in both the 100 and 400 meter hurdles, adding to a final point total for the Lady Flyers that was 11 more than a year ago.
Taylor led at the midway point of the men's 1,500, but finished fifth. He had only about three hours to rest up to defend his 2018 title in the 5,000 meter run.
"I wanted to push myself to do something a little tougher than I did last year," he said. "I was definitely a little concerned about it, but I committed to it about two months ago and felt I had to stick with it."
Again, Taylor led at the end of each lap with Hagan also picking up points for the Flyers with a sixth place finish.
Taylor completed his Flyer career with four national titles in track and field and a 2018 national title in cross country along with a runner-up finish in 2017.
On the way back from New York, Moody texted a message to members of the team that read as follows:
"I am on the last ride with the last of the original Flyers. I don't know if we will ever again be in the same place, but I know this. I will always carry each and every one of you in my heart. Go original Flyers and make the world a better place. I am a better man because of you. If you ever need me I am here for you."
Smith called the end of the two-year journey that for many of the sophomores included running for the successful Flyer cross country team in the fall, bittersweet.
"Coach Moody built this and we saw it through," she said. "It's more than a team. It's more like a family. Knowing that many of us are about to leave Sandhills is heartbreaking, but I'm also overwhelmed with joy and happiness."
Team totals (top 10) – Men – 1. Rowan Gloucester 131, 2. Suffolk 115, 3. Harper 104, 4. Triton 100, 5. Hudson Valley 60, 6. Kingsborough 53, 7. Sandhills 49, 8. CC Philadelphia 34, 9. Onondaga 25, 9. Camden County 25; Women – 1. Suffolk 144.5, 2. Kingsborough 113, 3. Harper 109.5, 4. Rowan Gloucester 101, 5. Union 49, 6. Sandhills 34, 6. Delaware County 34, 6. Bergen County 34, 6. Hudson Valley 34, 10. Mohawk Valley 32. Individual results - Sandhills Men – 400m – 10. (prelim.) Easley 52.56, 1,500m – 5. Taylor 4:17.48, 5,000m – 1. Taylor 15:44.83, 6. Hagan 16:24.78, 9. Bowen 16:42.82, 10,000m – 1. Taylor 32:34.62, 2. Bowen 34;09.42, 3,000m steeplechase – 3. Hagan 10:17.7, Long jump – 15. Knight 5.93m, Discus – 9. Worley 32.17m, Decathlon – 2. Worley. Sandhills Women- 800m – 4. Spencer 2:34.44, 1,500m – 3. Spencer 5:20.01, 10,000m – 4. Canady 47:15.25, 100h – 5. Smith 18.78, 400h – 5. Smith 1:21.25, 3,000m steeplechase – 5. Dewars 13:33.30, 10. Lindell 16:13.2, Discus – 7. Doorey 30.05m, Heptathlon – 5. Doorey.