Niwot junior Taylor James has been selected as one of 12 high school athletes in the country to compete at the Reykjavik International Games in Reykjavik, Iceland, the first weekend of February.
James was selected to compete for the National Scholastic Athletics Foundation, an organization “dedicated to the support of junior age (sub-20) and high school track and field,” according to the organization’s website.
“I’m really excited for the opportunity,” James said. “It’s an honor to be selected.”
The NSAF initiated contact with James about competing in the indoor multi-nation track and field meet. While James has competed in events across the country, this will be her first international competition. Needless to say, she is eager for the opportunity.
“It’s going to be really cool competing there,” James said. “I’ve never done (an international competition) before.”
In her high school track career, James has emerged as one of the top middle distance and long distance runners in the country. She currently holds the sixth fastest time in the country for high school girls in the 800 meter run at 2:05.83, which she set at the Music City Distance Carnival track meet in Nashville last summer. Her time in the meet came after she won individual 4A state titles in the 200, 400 and 800 last May for Niwot. In addition to her success with the track and field team, she is also a top runner for the Niwot cross country team and helped the Cougars win the 4A state title in October. Her time at the state meet was 18:59.80.
Since helping Niwot win the cross country title, James is back to training to get ready for her junior track season this spring. The move from cross country to track focuses more on speed training due to the shorter distances she will be competing in.
“I took some time off after the season and got back to it,” James said. “It’s good to get those twitch muscles and the speed back that comes with it.”
James will compete in the 800 meter run along with Marlee Starliper of Wellsville, Penn., in Iceland. Another Colorado runner competing for NSAF is Cole Sprout of Valor Christian, who will run middle distance events on the boys side.
The Reykjavik International Games are a European two-week competition put together to help Icelandic athletes compete with strong foreign competition while reducing travel costs for them to compete in, according to the event’s website. This is the second year the NSAF has put together a team to compete at the games.
Participants for Team NSAF are scheduled to travel to Iceland on Jan. 31 and return on Feb. 3, but James said she and her family are planning to leave early and explore the country before competing. Her focus is not specifically on the race results, but rather the chance to travel and take in the experience with her family.
“We wanted to go out early and see Iceland because we’ve never been,” James said. “I’m looking forward more to just getting the opportunity to be there. If I only think about the result and the meet, I probably will not enjoy it as much, so I’m just planning to take it all in, see everything and enjoy my time there.”
The games will serve as a prelude to the high school track and field season in Colorado, which is scheduled to begin on March 12.