Taylor Petree started running 5Ks with her mom for fun at five years old, but quickly realized that she had natural talent and was a gifted runner. By the fourth grade Petree had begun to run competitively and today Petree competes for Keys on the girls cross country team.
“My coaches started working with me and teaching me running techniques to help with hills and the straightaways at cross country meets,” Petree said. “I did really well in sixth grade and they started letting me run with the junior high team. It was so fun and I loved the challenge. I’m proud to say I’ve medaled at every meet since fourth grade.”
For Petree physical strength is a good trait to have, but mental strength is what separates the good runners from the great runners.
“It comes down to who wants it more,” Petree said.
Each year Petree challenges herself to improve and she thanks her coach for keeping her motivated.
“I’m feeling really good about this season. I feel like I’ve progressively gotten better each year,” Petree said. “Coach Barnes has inspired me to be a better runner. He always pushes me to do my very best. He’s so encouraging to me even when I may doubt myself, he tells me how much potential I have.”
Petree is also thankful for the support she receives at home.
“I would also like to thank my mom for the way she pushes me at every meet,” Petree said. “She’s always waiting for me at the finish line yelling ‘You’re almost there!’ or ‘You can pass her!’ and helping me to meet my goals.”
Another person who has helped keep Petree motivated is her former teammate and friend, Sierra Winkler, who showed Petree the ropes when she was a freshman. Petree hopes that she can provide the same support for her fellow teammates and bring leadership to the team. Petree has advice for newcomers to the sport.
“Always practice like you’re competing,” Petree said. “You have to continuously push yourself to get better everyday, but have fun doing so and enjoy every minute.”
After high school Petree said she wants to attend the University of Arkansas where she wants to work toward becoming a registered nurse, although she isn’t sure if she will continue running at the next level, she is keeping her options open.