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All-American Sprinter: Glover qualifies for Junior Olympics

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Spencer's Taylor Glover qualified for the United States Track and Field Junior Olympics, held in Baltimore, Md. on July 23-29, in the 400-meter dash.
(Photo by Michael Fischer)
There's a body-length mirror hanging in Taylor Glover's room with goals written on the side of it. Each sport she plays is listed with individual goals noted underneath. Basketball, volleyball, track. The Spencer senior-to-be has been crossing goals off her mirror for years now. Her latest check-off - qualifying for the United States Track and Field Junior Olympics in the 400-meter dash.

"I write goals for myself down for every sport. It keeps me focused, keeps my priorities straight," Glover said. "On the mirror, they're always there, always reminding me."

Qualifying for the Junior Olympic Team on July 7 is a continuation of a successful high school track season in 2012, which saw Glover accomplish two individual goals -- placing 4th in the open 400, and setting the school record in the 400. She also anchored the Tigers' fourth-place sprint medley team and fifth-place 4x100 team.

In order to earn a trip to Morgan State University in Baltimore, which is hosting the Junior Olympics July 23-29, athletes must qualify in state and regional competitions. The first stop for Glover, fresh off a family vacation, was a meet in Johnston, Iowa, on Father's Day. A last-minute entry got the Spencer athlete, not in running shape, in the field.

"Coach (Al) Pierce called on the last day to register for it while we were on vacation," Glover said. "We got signed up, my dad filled out everything on his phone."

With less than a week to prepare for the Johnston meet, Glover was able to qualify for the regional meet in Oshkosh, Wisc., in the 200- and 400-meter dashes.

Taylor Glover finished third at the regional qualifying meet in the 400-meter dash at Oshkosh, Wisc., on July 7. Athletes from Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas all competed for a chance to qualify for the Junior Olympics.
(Photo submitted)
With more time to get ready for the more challenging meet, Glover resumed her workout regiments, which include: running, swimming at 5:30 a.m. twice a week, and personalized training sessions at Athletic Republic in Spirit Lake. She must use Spirit Lake's track for running work outs due to Spencer's being under construction.

In addition to the extra training, Glover also is a lifeguard at the Spencer pool and involved with basketball and volleyball camps and tournaments this summer. How does she get it all done?

"I don't know," she admitted. "It helps that I just tell myself, 'You can do it.' I have a good attitude about it."

Glover is the first Spencer athlete girls head track coach Al Pierce has had qualify for the Junior Olympics. Pierce noted the effort and commitment this type of feat took.

"The willingness to do this during the summer and continue to train is a good indication she's a very driven young lady," Pierce said. "It's been all Taylor. I just give her the workouts. Hats off to her for working so hard. It will be a great opportunity to keep the competitive juices going. It's really pretty special anytime you can get to this level."

Qualifying at the regional meet at UW-Oshkosh was more difficult than in Johnston. Athletes from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Iowa and the Dakotas converged on Oshkosh with only five spots available for Baltimore in each event.

Glover cleared the preliminaries with a third-place finish in 59.84. Despite competing at the Iowa High School state meet the last two years, a meet that claims to be the most-attended high school track meet in the country, Glover was hit with a batch of nerves prior to the finals.

"I was so nervous before the race and I don't think my nerves helped my race much. I couldn't get loosened up," Glover said. "I was more nervous for that race than I was at the state meet. At state, I knew my competition. There, I didn't know any of the girls. I just wanted to make it through. If I didn't it would have felt like I let all the people who've been helping me down, and let down myself."

It wasn't an easy race. It hardly ever is. With only five spots up for grabs, it came down to the homestretch.

Taylor Glover leads the field in the second heat of the sprint medley finals at Drake Stadium at the 2012 Iowa High School state meet.
(Photo by Zach Jevne)
"Coming around the last curve, it looked like I was in fifth. With 100-meters left, you just tell yourself, 'It doesn't hurt.' The finish line looks like its moving away from you. It was really close and my mom was yelling so loud. When I ended up in third, it was a great feeling of relief."

Glover finished the Oshkosh final in 1:00.06, behind Clara Nichols of Omaha (56.77) and Ashlee Downs of Urbandale (58.77). She edged fourth and fifth place by half a second.

Nearly every athlete at the state and regional qualifying meets are members of track clubs. Glover, in fact, was the only athlete running "unattached," as it's called, in both her events.

Her preliminary time in the 200-meter dash at Oshkosh was a personal best of 26.57 but didn't qualify her for the Junior Olympics by five-hundreths of a second.

"The 200 was just something I kind of did, it's not my strong suit. It helped to have those girls push me," Glover said.

The meet in Baltimore will feature the best from around the country and will be extremely challenging to place. Glover's dad, Allen, and brother, Austin, will accompany her on the trip.

"I know I'm going to have to run a personal best to make it to the next race," she said of her preliminary heat. "I've been upping the ante with my training leading up to it. I'm hoping for a low-58 or high-57."

The Junior Olympics is touted as the "most visible youth athletic development program in the world." The attention and recognition associated with the competition is another reason Glover decided to compete. One of her goals for this coming year is to get a college track scholarship.

"I want to get a good scholarship," she said. "That's one of the main reasons I wanted to do it - get recognized and get my name out there."

No doubt a goal written on her bedroom mirror, with the rest of them for her upcoming senior campaign, waiting to be crossed off.

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