Windsor 2018 graduate Taylor Richey was an accomplished track and field athlete at the school for four years. She was named the most valuable athlete at the Jefferson County Activities Association girls track and field championships the last three years; the last two seasons she shared the honor with Jefferson’s Anna Heacock. Richey holds the Windsor record in the 100-meter dash (12.05 seconds), 200 (25.24) and long jump (16-8.5). As a freshman, she was part of the 4x100 relay team that set a school record of 51.68. At the state track and field championships in Jefferson City, Richey captured four medals in three years. In 2017, she was third in the 100 (12.19) and seventh in the 200 (26.53). This spring, she finished third in the 100 (12.28) and sixth in the 200 (25.38). Richey received a scholarship to compete on the track team at Missouri State University in Springfield.
When I was in elementary school at Windsor, I loved Field Day.
It was an annual event with many types of races for students across the Windsor C-1 School District, and in the individual footrace I was able to stand out above the rest.
That led me to try out for my middle school track team. I excelled there, becoming the school record holder in the 100- and 200-meter sprints. The feeling of competing and winning drove me to be the athlete I am today.
I had high hopes for high school and knew what accomplishments I wanted to achieve. As my senior year finished, my grandmother came up to me and reminded me of what I had said before my freshman year: “Before I graduate, all I want is to have my name up on the (high school athletic wall) and to hold the record in the 100 and 200 just like middle school.”
Which I did.
But as my freshman year started, I felt like a small fish in a big pond. I had to prove myself, running against many talented sprinters who pushed me to become the athlete I am today.
There was the freshman from Poplar Bluff (Krisman Eakin) who was faster than me, and I vowed that one day I would be just as fast. A sprinter from Lutheran South, Maya Cody, was amazing and I admired her and worked hard to be like her. She was the fastest girl I have ever seen.
I knew I wanted to accomplish that dream as well. I wanted to make my name known.
When I reached the end of the track season my freshman year, I knew could qualify for state in the 100 and 200. I ended up placing fifth in both events at sectionals and just missed qualifying for the state championships in Jefferson City. I was devastated to say the least, but little did I know that failing to qualify would push me to become even more successful in track than I had ever imagined.
I did not let that one disappointment define who I was. Instead, I used it to help become a better athlete and person. During my offseason, I was motivated to work even harder than before to make sure I made it to state the next three years.
I went to several collegiate camps, joined a track club and even lifted weights. I was not going to make the same mistake I made my freshman year.
During my sophomore year, I was named the most valuable athlete in the Jefferson County Activities Association track and field championships. I tied the school record in the 100 and smashed the 200 record. Breaking the 200 record was very astounding to me because I never thought the 200 was my race until then. To top off my sophomore year, I made it to state, and this was the best moment of my life, the moment I had been striving for the summer before. Though I didn’t place at state, I knew that next year would be better.
During my junior year, I felt strong and determined. I received the conference MVP again, smashed the school’s 100 record and broke my 200 personal best as well. I made it to Jefferson City again, which really meant a lot. Not only that, this time I medaled twice, placing third in the 100 and seventh in the 200.
It was at that meet that I realized this is what I wanted to do in college.
I have been asked by many people: “What do you do in the offseason?” and “How have you gotten so fast?”
Determination is my standard answer.
As my senior year started in 2017, I decided after months of talking with my family that I was going to run for Missouri State University in Springfield. By removing the stress of a college decision, I could finally focus on my senior track season. I had worked so hard in the offseason by going to nationals, joining a track club and even working out by myself.
Though I fell short of my goal for my senior year, I achieved many other memorable things by breaking the school record in the 100 and 200 and the long jump and earning four all-state medals. To top my senior year off, I was named the most valuable athlete at Windsor High School.
My senior year was bittersweet. I am sad to leave my family at Windsor, but I now have more goals to achieve in college. I am so thankful for the support of my coaches, teammates, and parents who have helped me achieve everything that I have over the years.
I wanted to give one last thank you to Windsor track and field head coach Stephany Dueker, who has taught me the value of work ethic. The practices were brutal but Coach Dueker pushed us to get better each day. I value the dedication and faith she had in us. She has taught me how to set goals for myself that seemed too good to be true, but were achievable.
If it wasn’t for Coach Dueker, I wouldn’t be the athlete or person I am today. I started track my freshman year just to continue my love for running, but by the time my senior year rolled around, I was an all-state performer in two events and a national competitor during the summer.
I hope someday I will be as big of an influence to someone as she has been to me.