By CLINT FOSTER
AUSTIN – For the second time in 2014, Santo's Taylor Nemeth was on the campus of the University of Texas for state championship competition.
In February, she was a vital cog of the Santo Ladycats basketball team that made its first appearance at the state tournament in 57 years.
Last weekend, Nemeth bookended her high school career with a fifth-place finish in the triple jump in her first appearance at the UIL Track and Field State Meet in Mike A. Myers Stadium in Austin.
“Honestly, it didn’t even hit me until I was on the track warming up that I was at state in my last sport as a senior,” she said. “I’m so sad [my high school career is over].”
Nemeth's 35-foot-3 leap at state was not far off from the jump that qualified her for the state meet at regionals two weeks ago. She was a silver medalist at the Region II-1A meet in Abilene, posting a 35-foot-6 mark.
But as good as her jump was, Nemeth said she was disappointed she couldn’t match her personal best of 36 feet, which she set prior to district competition last year.
She said if she could have gotten closer to her personal record, she might have ended on the podium. But, regardless, she said she was satisfied with her performance.
Nemeth said competing at Myers Stadium so close to the Frank Erwin Center, where the Ladycats’ historic basketball season ended mere months before, was surreal.
“It was crazy honestly. We were like five minutes away from ‘The Drum,’” she said, referring to Texas’ basketball arena. “Basketball’s a team sport and triple jump’s an individual sport. To go to state for two different things was just a great feeling.”
As great as her trip to state was, perhaps Nemeth’s lasting memory will be the send-off Santo gave her before she headed south. Countless Santo students and community members gathered outside the high school last week to show their support as Nemeth loaded into the vehicle that would take her to Austin.
“That was super sweet,” she said. “It was really cool how they got everyone together to send me off. Just to know that they were behind me and rooting for me through it all, it meant a lot.”
Nemeth’s athletic career may be over, but her future is still bright. She said she will attend South Plains College in Lubbock next year where she hopes to become a physical therapist’s assistant.