High school sports 20 for 20: Pursuit of state long jump record on hold for Orem’s Taye Raymond, maybe forever
Orem’s senior came within two inches of breaking the 19-year-old-state long jump record last year, and was hoping to eclipse the mark this spring
Editor’s note: For 20 days in April, the Deseret News will profile 20 elite high school athletes from the 2020 graduating class and how they’re coping with the premature end of senior life on and off the field.
OREM — Day after day, Orem’s Taye Raymond goes through the routine that any elite track and field athlete would in the middle of the season. She runs, she lifts weights and she tries to eat healthy for maximum results as she sets her sights on the state long jump record.
In reality though, because of COVID-19 there is nothing normal about it.
“I have been waiting for this year. Senior year is the year we’re supposed to do our best, I’ve just been waiting for this year and I’ve worked so hard for it, I could tell my times were going to be really good this year. Basically I don’t get that chance.” — Taye Raymond
Raymond usually runs by herself and not with her Orem teammates, she lifts weights alone in her neighbor’s gym, and the workouts from her coach are delivered via text message because there can be no coach-player interaction during the UHSAA suspension. And worst of all, there’s no satisfaction of a meet on the weekend.
“It’s really hard mentally. It’s hard to have to go to the track every day and do a hard sprint workout when I don’t know for sure if I’m doing it for anything,” said Raymond, who signed with BYU last fall. “There will be times in the middle of a hard workout and I’ll be like, is there even a point in doing this cause I’m not going to have a track season anyway.”
There may or may not be an abbreviated track and field season in May and June depending on if Utah schools open back up for the final month of the school year.
For now, Raymond tries to remain focused and hopeful that her senior track season wasn’t just a one-meet year.
Raymond came into the season with high hopes for a record-breaking 2020.
A year ago at the Region 10 championships, Raymond soared 19 feet, 2.50 inches in the long jump, the third-best mark in state history. It was just over two inches shy of the state record jump of 19-4.75 set by Alta’s Amy Menlove back in 2001.
Raymond’s hopes this year was also to lower her times in both the 100 and 200 meters — which were top 15 in Utah last year — but her bread and butter is the long jump.
“I have been waiting for this year. Senior year is the year we’re supposed to do our best, I’ve just been waiting for this year and I’ve worked so hard for it, I could tell my times were going to be really good this year. Basically I don’t get that chance,” said Raymond, who took state in the long jump in both her sophomore and junior years, and was looking forward to a three-peat this year.
She did get one chance to compete before the UHSAA suspension began March 16.
Back on March 11, Orem competed in a small dual meet with Lehi and Raymond recorded an 18-0 jump on her fourth attempt after scratching in her first three attempts.
It was a great start in what surely would have been a natural two-month progression as she peaked in May with a hopeful state record.
The global pandemic has taken those aspirations away, and the final three months of high school normalcy as well.
“It’s sad to be spending these last three months in my house doing school online without seeing my friends every day. It’s been hard honestly,” said Raymond.