HEBRON — Making a first trip to the state cross country meet can be a daunting proposition, even under the best conditions.

Aurora junior Robert Taylor was dealing with far from ideal conditions when he made his first trip to the state competition Saturday. The Division I boys state cross country meet took place at National Trail Raceway in Hebron.

Greenmen head coach Laura Bell-Peters was ecstatic for Taylor just to reach the state meet.

"Robbie had an opportunity of a lifetime," she said. "No doubt he worked hard to earn his spot, but as we know, nothing is ever guaranteed. I am not sure people really understand the magnitude of what was accomplished unless you have physically seen a district, regional or state meet."

What Taylor saw was a less-than-ideal course at National Trail. Due to rain earlier in the week, the normally fast course was muddy and soft, making for slower times.

Not only that, but Taylor was experiencing some health issues ahead of his race.

"It was cold in the morning and then it started to heat up," Taylor said. "It felt like I couldn’t fill my lungs up with air. I’ve been feeling a bit sick."

Despite these issues, Taylor was not unhappy with how he ran. Taylor finished 64th in the Division I boys race in a time of 16:37.2.

Taylor stayed consistent throughout the race, as he was in 67th place after one mile and was 66the after two miles.

"I’m happy with my performance," Taylor said. "It’s not a personal record, but times were not fast at all."

"I know Robbie was disappointed in his final performance, but you cannot judge your season on one race," Bell-Peters said. "It’s all about the growth during the journey. He had an amazing season and competed well on at the state meet."

"There were a lot of very talented athletes who never got the opportunity due to the numerous changes from the district to regional reassignments. It truly is a gift to have the chance to compete at the state level and sometimes, this can be overwhelming to young athletes."

Taylor said he’s targeting an All-Ohio finish for next season. Bell-Peters is looking for big things from Taylor as well.

"I know he had set personal goals and fell a little short of them, but what was accomplished was amazing and he should be very proud of himself," Bell-Peters said. "Coming off this season will be a great driving force of self-confidence rolling into the track season where he will reach new levels."

Email: mleonard@recordpub.com

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