MACEDONIA: Her quick wit makes teammates and coaches laugh.
Her talent makes opponents cringe.
Nordonia senior Taylor McDonald definitely sticks out when she runs on the track.
“Taylor is such a unique kid,” Nordonia coach Scott Barwidi said. “She is very personable. She really has a very endearing personality. She gave all of our assistant coaches nicknames. She is a really funny young lady. She is obviously a phenomenal athlete, but we will miss her personality the most when she goes off to college.”
McDonald, 17, has accepted a Division I scholarship to compete at Troy University in Alabama, but before she makes the trek south, she has unfinished business in Ohio.
McDonald has qualified twice for the Division I state track and field meet at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus in the 300-meter hurdles. She placed fourth as a junior and eighth as a sophomore.
She plans to reach the top spot on the podium June 2.
“Yes, I am determined to win state,” McDonald said. “I have to work harder and not slow down at the last hurdle like I always do at state.
“I start off strong and I try to finish hard, but I usually start off stronger. I am working on improving that.”
McDonald’s best times are 42.57 seconds in the 300 hurdles and 14.77 seconds in the 100 hurdles. Both are school records. She has set goal times of “low 41, high 40 in the 300 hurdles and 14.2 in the 100 hurdles.”
“I am very competitive and I like competing against other people,” McDonald said. “I also like being outside and enjoying the weather, when it is nice.”
McDonald has her name attached to three other school records: the 400 (58.14), the 800 relay (1:44.48) and the 1,600 relay (4:01.59).
Marrianna White competed on both relays and graduated. She competes at Mount Union.
Seniors Tierney Crawley and Nina Jackson are back with McDonald on both relays. The fourth spot varies between sophomores Sabrina Kozsey and Kayla Shine. Junior Regina Rudder and sophomore Leah Vasarhelyi are Nordonia’s top distance runners.
“Taylor is a real standout,” Barwidi said. “We make a joke after a meet, that is one less race we will see McDonald run. She is just that good. When we go places, other runners will watch her run and be like: ‘Ah, man, who is that? What is that kid doing? She is so fast.’ We are used to it because we see her run every day.”
Spotting a star
Barwidi said he first saw and met McDonald after he took over as coach five years ago.
“I first saw Taylor when she was in eighth grade,” Barwidi said. “I saw her run in meets and I knew she was going to be special.”
Barwidi said McDonald had competed in the hurdle events in AAU competition, but didn’t focus on it in high school until midway through her freshman season.
“Boy, it was a good decision for her and us,” Barwidi said. “She was running the 400 and the three relays until then. I knew she had some hurdling experience from AAU, so we had her practice the hurdles.”
McDonald has since been team MVP and high-point scorer as a sophomore and junior, and will likely hold those distinctions as a senior.
“Coach works with me on different things, such as sprinting,” McDonald said. “I also have a hurdle coach [Brent Nenadal] who helps me with my technique, how to finish and get down quicker. Both coaches work with me a lot.”
The 5-foot-6 McDonald said she started to compete in track and field in fifth grade at Nordonia Middle School. She credits her parents, Faye and Daniel McDonald, and brother Daniel McDonald Jr., 24, for their support.
Troy recruited McDonald to compete in the 400 hurdles, 100 hurdles, 400 and 1,600 relay. She also received scholarship offers from Texas Christian, Cincinnati, Kent State, Youngstown State and Bowling Green.
“I liked the coaches down there, the weather and I feel like I fit in with the team,” said McDonald, who plans to major in physical therapy. “I also liked the school and the track and field facility.”
McDonald is seeking to become Nordonia’s second state champion in girls track and field. Barwidi said Nordonia has had one girls track and field champion (Sue Fitzgerald, 1981, discus) and one state runner-up Amanda Sefcik (2002, long jump).
“Taylor is a very hard worker at her craft of hurdling,” Barwidi said. “She works tirelessly all throughout the year on hurdling. She doesn’t just wait until March. She is constantly working. That is what makes her special and she also has some God-given ability that others don’t have.”
Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MBeavenABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.