Four years ago, the Union Catholic track program began a dynasty by winning every indoor and outdoor Union County championship. Last year’s squad had six Division I athletes, but they are all gone due to graduation. Star athlete Taylor McLaughlin, who has been with the program since the beginning of their dominance, believes Union Catholic’s track team shows similarities to the squad that began the magical run.
“We’ve won with a consistent group of guys,” McLaughlin said. “It will be different now that all the young bloods are coming in. I’m pretty much the old guy now. I’ve seen it all and been with all the great runners we’ve had. They are all new to it, so it’s going to be an interesting season.”
McLaughlin has been nothing short of impressive during his career at Union Catholic. The only way coach Mike McCabe’s squad will continue its supremacy over Union County and the state is if McLaughlin has another standout year. In McCabe’s eyes, it’s time for McLaughlin to become the leader of his squad.
“He wants to continue to get better, stronger, and stay healthy,” McCabe said. “He wants to make the strides, so when he gets to the spring he can really open up. He looks good and healthy, and those are the most important things. It’s a little bit of a different role because now he’s the leader. It’s cool to see him grow into it.”
McLaughlin gained national recognition during his indoor campaign for the ages. He anchored two unbelievable races in the New Balance Nationals in New York. He helped Union Catholic capture the 4×200 with a total group score of 1:27.04, which was good for second in state history and fourth in U.S. history. On that same day, behind a strong showing by McLaughlin, Union Catholic tallied a 3:15.53 in a relay race, which was a state record.
McLaughlin also found success at the state level, winning the 400 at the Meet of Champions, by posting the fourth best score in state history. He also grabbed the 55 hurdles title in the Union County Championships.
“It definitely sets a mood,” McLaughlin said about running under the spotlight every race. “You go into a meet and people expect you to live up to that bar you set. It’s usually not a problem; I just do what I can do.”
Union Catholic’s star athlete had a tough spring season. After missing six weeks with a shin injury, McLaughlin was able to come place second at the Meet of Champions (47.74), won the Non-Public (47.99), and took fifth at nationals (46.94). The senior hopes to continue to find success in the 400, where he holds the school record (46.81)
One thing is for sure, behind the leadership of McLaughlin, anything is possible. Between indoor and outdoor track and field, the boys have captured six state championships since 2012 and have become a national force. Their secret: consistency and being able to reload in talent.
“We definitely lost the strongest class I’ve been around,” McCabe said. “Maybe the best class in the history of the school. It definitely changes things a bit. We think with the pieces we have back and some of the younger guys that we have, we can win the county title again. It’s just going to be done a little differently.”