Chariots of fire

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

While daydreaming in a high-school statistics class, Aron Taylor had an idea.

“Five States, one race, one division, one champion,” said the junior anthropology major. “It became my motto from that moment on.”

Since that day, Taylor has single-handedly created a Web site to unify high-school cross-country runners, organized a Rocky Mountain region composed of five western states and planned an event that will transform the world of high-school distance running.

While running cross country for their high school in Idaho, Taylor and his twin brother, Dave Taylor-now a senior in the Marine Corps stationed at the U and studying philosophy-saw a problem in the way Western teams were ranked nationally, influencing their chances to compete in the Nike Team Nationals.

Nike has organized the United States into nine regions, dividing Western states into the Northwest and Southwest regions.

In the Northwest region, schools from Washington and Oregon are often unable or unwilling to compete with schools in Montana and Idaho because of distance and geographical limitations.

“I saw huge discrepancies in how teams from the Rocky Mountain states had been overlooked. We were being penalized for not being able to compete every week against top-ranked teams-to compare teams in Montana to teams in Portland and Spokane is ridiculous,” Aron Taylor said.

Because Washington and Oregon teams often have the chance to compete with top-ranked teams, they have more exposure to the Nike Ranking Committee, which sends them to the tournament.

As a solution to this problem, Dave Taylor thought of creating a Rocky Mountain region, allowing teams from Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Idaho and Montana to compete against each other on an even playing field. Aron Taylor immediately contacted coaches from top-ranked teams and organized a regional championship meet to take place Nov. 4, 2006, in Pocatello, Idaho.

Sponsored by New Balance and named a Dyestat-featured meet, the event has drawn much attention from Nike.

Nike could not sponsor the event, but it could play a large role in determining who goes to the championship. Currently, 1,500 athletes from all five states are registered for the event.

“This meet is going to dispel all prejudices against Rocky Mountain teams,” Dave Taylor said.

Having received a scholarship from the David Eccles School of Business, Aron Taylor is not new to the entrepreneurial spirit. As an assistant coach under Ben Stull for the East High School cross-country team last year, he led the team through an undefeated season, winning city and regional championships and taking second place at the state meet.

“Aron is extremely enthusiastic,” Stull said. “He’s a very hard worker and willing to take chances. He’s not afraid to make things happen.”

Mike Terry

Junior anthropology major Aron Taylor organized a Rocky Mountain Regional high-school cross-country event that allows cross-country runners in high school to compete against more highly ranked teams and gain more national recognition.