There will be plenty of moments to look back on for Union Catholic High School senior Taylor McLaughlin when he graduates in the spring, but the track star may have created his top memory in the winter at the Meet of Champions.
The senior anchored the 4×400 team and beat out Old Bridge’s Hazem Miawad at the finish with a time of 48.0, helping Union Catholic to win 3:24.54 to 3:24.55 on a photo finish. McLaughlin remembers just trying to stay with Miawad and make his move around the same time, hoping that he had the energy to make the pass.
“Getting the baton I knew that they he had a really good lead, but Hazem had just run the 800 so he might be a little tired. I got it and we were both chasing the other two teams that were out in front,” said McLaughlin, the Courier News Boys Indoor Track and Field Athlete of the Year. “I was sitting on him and waiting for him to make his move and basically coming on the third turn he made his move. It was crazy. It was strategic and then it was an all out just go for it.”
Union Catholic coach Mike McCabe couldn’t believe the race and praised McLaughlin’s leadership and his ability to go out there and win the 4×400 at the Meet of Champions for the third straight year.
“It was an enormous moment for him to have the pride and the courage to battle through the pain and race so hard for himself and his team. We’ve won the Meet of Champs 4×400 three straight years and he’s anchored every single one. For him to go do that again was pretty amazing,” said McCabe.
McLaughlin has been able to add the Union Catholic’s winning ways throughout his high school career, helping the school win its fifth Union County Championship and explains that the team just goes out there to do its best.
“We usually hear about it before in the meeting that if we win this it’ll be this time winning, but it’s never really about that. It’s more, let us do the best that we can and usually if we do that, then continuing that legacy is the result. It’s more of a legacy of us trying our best more so than a legacy of us winning.”
The Michigan-bound senior enjoyed a lot of winning and came close to many records during the season. He set a meet record in the Non-Public A championship with a time of 48.77, while also winning the 400 at the Meet of Champions with a time of 48.33, missing the meet record of 48.26.
McLaughlin is really just excited to be a student and begin his path as an engineer going forward, but he will always remember his time at Union Catholic.
“I won’t forget running those hallways. I won’t forget the falls and I’ve had plenty of those, but I think the main thing I just won’t forget is being younger and being with my teammates. I got to hang out with one of my old teammates today and it brought back all the memories,” said McLaughlin.