Fun activity turns to serious long-term sport


Emma Winberg

Tayler McMeekin crossing the finish line.

By Kanayoliseh Onwudiegwu

Freshman Tayler McMeekin represented the high school in the Division 1 Wisconsin High School State Cross Country Meet on Oct. 30. McMeekin placed 19th out of 190 girls for the individual race.

McMeekin is the first person to make State Boys & Girls Cross Country Championships since 2012 when then-senior Leah Holmes went to state in Wisconsin Rapids, WI. She finished in 44th place.

For McMeekin, none of this has been easy. During the season, McMeekin was faced with adversity, fighting through a leg injury she got at a meet. Discipline, hard work, and staying the course is what has kept McMeekin on top. 

Despite her achievements, McMeekin stays humble.

“I definitely didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but I mean, now that I know that, and all these people are congratulating me,” McMeekin said.

Initially, McMeekin did not join cross country to pursue competing at this level, but instead as something to keep her in shape for the girl’s soccer team.

“I thought it would be a good preseason thing for soccer, because I’ve played soccer for forever so, I just thought having a fall sport would be nice to warm me up for soccer,” McMeekin said.

As the season took off, McMeekin saw the progress she was making. She slowly came to the realization that she had a passion for cross country.

For McMeekin, that was no easy task during the Division 1 sectional meet, which would decide if she would make it to state. She had the added pressure of people’s expectations.

“I was definitely feeling very nervous, very pressured,” McMeekin said. 

McMeekin was also running with a leg injury. She knew that she would have to listen to her body and take the necessary precautions. Coach Lee Sims had a big part in helping her.

Despite the help and self care, running the sectional meet was extremely taxing.

McMeekin credits her success to coach Sims and assistant coach Smith, parents Bob and Jaime McMeekin, sister Makayla McMeekin, and her entire teammates. 

“She has always been a runner for soccer but to actually go and practice, especially with the boys [referring to the cross country boys varsity team] doing six miles… she’s got so much heart, she puts everything into everything she does,” Jaime McMeekin said. 

“ The determination of striving to be the best, and I mean not necessarily the best but striving to be the best she can be… it’s almost kinda like not really a surprise to see were she is at,” Bob McMeekin said.

“She is probably one of the most mentally tough people that I have ever met, she amazes me everytime she runs. The things that she does is… unlike what we’ve seen in the last 10 years, no body has ever really done it,” Makayla McMeekin said. 

Now that the season has ended, McMeekin is looking towards what’s next for the high school cross country star. 

“I’m definitely gonna continue doing cross country probably for all 3 of my years just to try to see how much of an improvement my time can make by the time I’m a senior,” Tayler McMeekin said.

Tayler McMeekin’s 5k running times for the whole season:

  • Ashland – 20:30 minutes – 2nd place
  • Spooner – 20:51 minutes – 2nd place
  • Dan Conway Classic (home meet) – 20:18 minutes – 1st place
  • Rice Lake – 19:58 minutes – 8th place
  • John Woodbury – 20:00 minutes – 1st place
  • Hibbing – 19:54 minutes – 1st place
  • Hayward – 21:23 minutes – 2nd place
  • LSC Conference Meet – 19:20 minutes – 1st place
  • Division 1 Sectional Meet – 19:11 minutes – 6th place (only the top 8 advance)
  • WIAA Cross-Country State Championships Meet – 19:37 minutes – 19th place