Taylor Gerard stepped foot on campus at Montgomery Academy when she was a sophomore, and for the past three years, has all but dominated girls cross country in the tri-county, while never finishing lower than fourth in state competition.
She has led the girls team to three consecutive state championships — Class 3A in 2011, and Class 1A-2A in 2012-2013. A military child, she moved to Montgomery from Highlands Ranch, Colo., never imagining she would become part of a winning program.
Along with the team win this year at the state meet at Oakville Indian Mounds Park, individually, Gerard placed fourth with a time of 19:37.30.
The soft-spoken leader who puts team emphasis before individual is the All-Metro Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year for the third consecutive year. She talks about her prep career, her plans for college and what she’ll remember most.
On her senior year
“It’s been really really good. The team and I are really close this year. We had a lot of new people. Brenna and Tara Katz … they contributed to our top five.”
What it takes to be at her level of competition
“You’d think it would be more individual training, but it’s really team training. Just having your team there to support you really helps your workouts and on the long runs, it is very helpful.”
What meant the most this year
“Not only us winning (the state title), but the boys winning (the 1A-2A state title). That was great, because they haven’t won in a long time.” (The last time the boys team won a state title was 2002.)
Longtime MA cross country and track and field coach Kevin Weatherill left Montgomery Academy for St. Paul’s in Mobile. Stepping into the lead coaching role is Michael Floyd. Gerard’s thoughts
“I was a little scared about it, but it was a smooth transition. We’d had him for an assistant coach for a while, so it wasn’t like a really big difference. But not having coach Weatherill there was definitely … it was hard, but it wasn’t a bad transition.”
A look ahead at colleges
“I have verbally committed to Montevallo.”
What she will miss most about her high school cross country career
“I will miss my teammates a lot. They were a great team, and we had so many memories. They’re just always there for you no matter what and are a great support system.”
The last mile in the state cross country race
“I was thinking this is my last one ever in high school, and my dad flew all this way to see me, and I wanted to run for him. And just wanted to go out with a big bang. It was really rewarding.”
Expectations when joining the MA cross country program
“I never expected (the team) to win the state meet, because at my old schoo,l we were never ever in the chances of winning state. So that was a really good surprise.”
Preparation for collegiate level
“I will be ready when I get there.”