February 18, 2010 9:41:00 AM
Pulling tires up and down a mile-long road might sound like a training tactic used for a Strongman competition.
Zach Taylor isn''t there yet, but he used the specialized form of exercise to open his track and field season with a bang.
Competing last week at the South Zone Indoor Championship in Baton Rouge, La., the Heritage Academy freshman finished first in the 60-meter dash (7.24 seconds) and fourth in the 200 (24.59) in the intermediate boys division.
"I have improved my speed a lot and I just wanted to try it," said Taylor, who was a top performer last season in the 100 and 200 in middle school meets.
The South Zone Indoor Championship featured competitors from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and parts of Texas.
For Taylor, the event was his first Junior Olympic meet. He hopes to compete April 3 at the U.S. Area Youth Selection Trials at the University of Texas at Arlington. Athletes from that meet will be nominated for selection to the Americas Youth Olympic team based on performance. The athletes picked will represent the Americas in a meet in August in Singapore.
Taylor also plans to attend the USATF National Junior Olympics Outdoor Championship on July 27-Aug. 1 in Sacramento, California.
"I am going to have to do a lot of weight training, running, and pulling tires," Taylor said.
To accomplish his goals Taylor plans to stay busy training at Heritage Academy in multiple individual and team events for the high school season. He will add to his training with some more tire pulling if he feels he needs it.
Taylor said he ran and pulled tires for the three weeks leading up to the meet to get into shape. Even though he knew he wasn''t in top condition, he thought he could place well.
"I looked at the records last year and I felt I was going to do pretty good," Taylor said.
Taylor worked on his stamina by hooking an automobile tire to a life vest and pulling it down the road leading to his house. He said pulling tires helps him stay low and explode at the beginning of races.
Heritage Academy track and field coach Greg Sykes, who didn''t attend the meet, said the results should give Taylor confidence to have a successful season. He said he encouraged Taylor to attend the Junior Olympics meet last year, but Taylor couldn''t work it into his schedule.
Sykes is glad things worked out this year.
"It was an opportunity to start the season off early and to see where he stood against other competitors in the Southeast," Sykes said. "He went from football season and just finished basketball season two weeks ago. Now we have to get him into track shape."
Taylor''s first high school track and field meet will be March 10. He said he will compete in the 100, 200, and a field event and will anchor the 4x100 and 4x200 relays, as well as compete in the 4x400 relay.
Sykes said Taylor will have more competition this season in high school, but he believes Taylor will have a great season.
"He is a winner. He hates to lose," Sykes said. "I would have loved to have seen how we would have run down there in shape."
Taylor had to run a preliminary heat and a final heat in the 60 meters before competing in the 200, which just had three heats. The top times were taken from the heats to determine the finishes.
Taylor knows he has to get in even better shape to realize his goal. He said he is excited by his finish at the South Zone Indoor Championships and is eager to build on it during his high school season.
"I was always confident, but they were pretty big and they could run fast," Taylor said. "I was hoping to do better in the 200, but I ran out of steam. The 60 felt really good."
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.