North Central Pennsylvania has a strong tradition of success in high school track and field. Recently Tré Taylor, of Williamsport, and Idris Ali, of Loyalsock have continued that tradition by winning at district and state competitions. Though neither local athlete is a stranger to success, there were some surprises this season.
Tré Taylor set a district record in the 110-meter hurdles at the PIAA District IV AA &AAA Track and Field 2021 Championships at the Williamsport Area High School stadium with a time of 14.14 seconds in the semi-finals. He broke it again in the finals with a time of 14.01 seconds to take gold. He was also able to set a district record in the long jump with a distance of 22’11.25”.
Taylor then moved on to the PIAA Track & Field State Championships held at Shippensburg University. He had the fastest qualifying time in the semis with 14.45 seconds and was able to win with a final time of 14.15 seconds.
All of this was made even more exciting considering that Tré was injured going into the 2021 season, suffering from calcific tendonitis. In this painful condition, calcium builds up in the tendon. “I couldn’t train for the first month and a half of the season,” said Taylor. He first noticed the issue in training. “I was practicing for the relay. When I took the baton, it felt like someone punched me in the leg.” Taylor went on to say that his hurdle times and jump distances were suffering, so he was forced to take time off. Still, he was able to find a silver lining. “I felt it made me even more hungry to compete and win.” No stranger to hard work, Taylor fought back with only one meet to qualify for districts. Winning at districts, Taylor was able to move on to states. “Looking back, I didn’t know how to feel, but now I see the life lesson. Sometimes you have real or figurative hurdles. You just have to overcome and keep going. Eventually, you’ll see the finish line.”
“Williamsport Area High School has an outstanding tradition of track and field student-athletes, with over a dozen individual state champions, and now Tré Taylor has added his name to that list. He will get his picture hung in the commons as a state champion, something he worked very hard for and now will be remembered that way forever,” said Sean McCann, Williamsport Area High School Athletic Director.
“Allen “Tré” Taylor is the quintessential example of a student-athlete. He is an honor roll student, taking all honors-level courses at Williamsport Area High School. He was inducted into the school’s National Honor Society based on his grades and activities.” McCann went on to say that Taylor is very well-respected by the faculty and staff. “He works hard at school and sports, training in the afternoon and staying up until midnight completing his honors-level schoolwork.” When asked about Taylor’s worth ethic, McCann said, “Tré has a lot of patience to go along with his great work ethic. He’s had a frustrating high school athletic career with his injuries and dealing with a worldwide pandemic. His attitude and great work ethic earned him that gold medal in Shippensburg.”
April Taylor, Tré’s mother, said that Tré started track in the 7th grade and saw early success. Throughout his athletic career, Taylor has worked hard but has also faced some obstacles. “We’re really proud of Tré. Not just as an athlete but as an all-around great kid. People enjoy being around him.” April Taylor went on to say that despite Tré only having one meet to qualify for districts, he did expect to do well. “His goals were to beat the school record and break 14 seconds. To go sub 14 in the hurdles, he just needed a little more time.”
Idris Ali of Loyalsock had a season that was no less impressive. Known for his prowess on the basketball court, Ali is no stranger to athletic success. Earlier this year, Ali helped the Loyalsock Lancers take the state title in basketball and was named the Class AAA Player of the Year. Like Taylor, his 2021 season wasn’t so simple, however. Idris Ali jumped for the first time on May 4, then went on to win state gold just a few short weeks later on May 28 in Shippensburg. “I learned by watching others,” said Ali. “Coach McKibben also helped me a lot by teaching me technique. My first official jump was at a Hughesville meet, and I did well. I’ve actually had more jumps in meets than in practice.” When asked if he thought he would be a successful jumper, he responded, “I thought I would do well and just put my mind to it.”
This was Idris Ali’s first year in track, and he wanted to savor every moment of his senior year. “I had lots of friends and wanted to spend time with them and have fun.” When asked if track might be a part of his college experience, Ali said, “Basketball is definitely my main sport, but I would certainly consider doing both track and basketball.”
Ali competed in the triple jump, winning gold, the long jump, where he took third, and the 400-relay, where his relay also took third. Ali was seeded eighth out of nine in the long jump. He was able to narrowly make it into the finals and was able to break 21 feet and on his final jump, hitting 21’9.5” for third place.
For Ali’s first triple jump of the day, he was able to hit 44’6”, and he was confident he had more in him. He ultimately was able to jump 45’2.25” for gold. When asked if his basketball background helped him win states, Ali said, “Basketball helped a lot. All those explosive drills in the summer definitely helped my jumping ability and translated very well to track.”
Both Taylor and Ali plan on attending college in the fall. Tré Taylor will be committing to Penn State University and will likely be running hurdles as well as possibly jumping. He will be majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology and plans on becoming a dentist. Idris Ali plans on attending either Mansfield University or Elizabethtown College and would like to major in business and entrepreneurship.