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Jumping to the Next Level

November 23, 2022 - 00:00
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Crescent state champ Taylor signs to continue track & field career at OSU

  • Jumping to the Next Level
    STICKING WITH ORANGE AND BLACK – Crescent’s Kinidi Taylor recently signed to compete in track and field for OSU. Among those at the signing ceremony were, from left: seated, J.L. Fisher (Crescent track coach), Ty Taylor (father), Kinidi Taylor, Kylar
  • Jumping to the Next Level
    KINIDI TAYLOR soars during an attempt in the long jump during the 2022 Class 2A state meet. Taylor won the state title in the event for the second straight year. She recently signed to compete for OSU. [KT&FP Staff Photo]

Simply put, she’s the best.

Four-time state champion Kinidi Taylor signed a National Letter of Intent on Nov. 9 to continue her track and field career at Oklahoma State University.

The Crescent High School senior signed during a ceremony in front of classmates, teammates, family and more.

As the ink was drying on her signature, the Oklahoma State coaching staff knew what they were getting.

“She’s the best jumper in the state,” said Zivile Pukstas (also known as Coach Z), the jumps coach for OSU track and field. “Obviously when we go recruit, we want to go get the best athletes.”

Taylor’s results back that up. As a junior last spring, Taylor won her second gold medal in the Class 2A state long jump when she soared 18 feet 5 inches at Catoosa High School. It was more than a foot further than the runner-up.

That jump would have won every class except 6A in 2022, but it was far from her best leap of the season.

At a field-only event at Chisholm in April, Taylor jumped 19-3 to best Kingfisher’s Ally Stephenson, who would go on to win the Class 4A title.

That jump was better than any female in the state for the entire season, regardless of class.

Then at the Meet of Champions in May, Taylor claimed the title with a jump of 19 4 3/4 to set yet another PR.

Taylor, who also won the 2A long jump as a sophomore, was only getting started when she won the 2022 crown.

She also claimed state championships in the 400 and 800 meter relays along with teammates Jill Watkins, Calen Cox and Reydon Walker.

Taylor was also the state runner-up in the 100 meter dash.

Already on college coaches’ radars, Taylor’s performance at state demanded more attention.

“I talked with coaches from other Division I schools like Clemson, Wichita State and North Carolina,” Taylor said.

Closer to home, she considered Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva.

But after a recruiting trip to Stillwater in September, Taylor was convinced where her future home should be.

“‘Jumping’ for joy for this opportunity. I am so excited to announce my commitment to further my track and field career at Oklahoma State,” Taylor wrote on social media.

For Taylor, there were a number of factors that led her just 42 miles to the north and east of her hometown.

“It was the family-like atmosphere, the education program, the campus, the traditions and the fact that it was close to home,” she said.

••• It’s remarkable enough that Division I schools were requesting the services of an athlete nestled away inside the small Logan County town.

With Taylor’s three gold medals and one silver leading the way, Crescent finished third in the Class 2A girls standings last spring.

What makes it all the more impressive is that Crescent doesn’t have a true track.

But Taylor had a desire to continue to improve.

“Kinidi has a tremendous work ethic. She’s constantly working to improve in and out of season,” said J.L. Fisher, Crescent’s track and field coach.

“After we train at school, she continues to work on her own each day.”

And that means traveling south to work with her uncle, Tyler Thompson, a track and field coach at Putnam City West.

“We have no resources in Crescent as far as a track or anywhere to practice jumping so everything she does, she learns in a meet and practices with Tyler once a week when she can,” said Staci Taylor, Kinidi’s mother, last spring.

Taylor said Thompson was instrumental in her improvement.

“My uncle has had a big part in my training,” she said. “He helps me workout in Oklahoma City since we have no track here and he’s helped me a lot.”

On top of her work ethic, Fisher said Taylor has another trait that makes her excel.

“She loves the competitive part of track and field and is always pushing herself and her teammates to be their best,” Fisher said. “At the Meet of Champions, her goal was to win, but also attain the longest jump in the state, which she did. She’s a great student, competitor and teammate. I’m just glad she competes for Crescent.”

And “Coach Z” is glad Taylor is soon going to compete in orange and black for her school.

“Knowing who Kinidi is as a person and a competitor, you get more excited because, as a coach, she’s what you want,” Pukstas said. “On top of all that, she’s a great student. She’s the total package of what you’re looking for in an athlete.

“She’s a perfect fit for Oklahoma State.”

But before then, Taylor has more goals she wants to accomplish in her final season at Crescent.

“I hope to be a three-time state champion in the long jump,” she said. “And I have my eye on the 2A state meet record.”

That record is 18-10 3/4 set by Mooreland’s Kayla Wilson in 2013.

There are also some team goals she’d like to see through.

“Our relay team is positioning to make a run at the 4x100 and 4x200 relay championship again,” she said. All four runners on last year’s gold medal teams were underclassmen.

In fact, all five Crescent athletes who scored points at state last year return this year.

“We got within a few points of the overall team championship despite only having five girls earning points,” Taylor said. “We came up short. We are hoping to earn enough to place at the top this year.”

No matter what happens in the spring, Taylor will become an OSU Cowboy in the months that follow.

“I’m excited, hopeful and eager to challenge myself,” she said.

“I’m looking forward to opportunities at the next level.”