TSR's Profiles of Greatness - Steve Taylor
By: Mike Mcmillion
Steve Taylor biography compiled by Mike McMillion and Steve Taylor
Steve Taylor (born 1965 in WV) is a collegiate track/cross country coach and a former American long-distance runner. He grew up in St. Marys, which is a city in Pleasants County, West Virginia, in the United States. His parents are Delbert and Alta Mae Taylor. He is the youngest of five boys. Taylor enjoyed playing baseball, riding motorcycles, hunting and fishing.
His dad was in the timber business and coached little league baseball in Pleasant County, West Virginia in the early 1970’s. Mike, Cliff, Matt, Vernon, and Steve all played Little League at some point while growing up. Their dad’s Hardwood Lumber Company was the team sponsor which allowed Steve to serve as bat boy for Mike, Cliff, Matt and Vernon's teams. After his brothers were frustrated from not receiving much playing time in baseball, Steve’s brother Mike elected to go out for the track & field team.
Steve grew up in a very competitive family.
One day, at Mike’s track practice, he and Cliff got into an argument over who was faster, so Cliff then joined the track team too. That challenge can be traced to their family’s long career of running and continued passion for it. At one point, the St. Marys High School team had 25 members, 17 of which had the last name Taylor.
Steve Taylor would begin running at 9 years old, while in elementary school. He finally got the opportunity to race with his brothers, who once again were arguing over who was the fastest. Mike and Cliff vs. Matt and Vernon regarding which team was faster. They would race a 4.5-mile loop that started and ended at their house with both teams running in opposite directions. Steve would tag along with Mike and Cliff, but they would not wait on him, they didn’t want him to be an anchor. He would learn a valuable lesson that day after cutting the course by a half-mile. His brothers called him a cheater which angered him greatly. His brother Matt explained “If you cheat today by cutting the course it becomes that much easier to do it again tomorrow.” Steve heard him loud and clear. It was a lesson that likely saved his running, academic, and professional careers. A lesson that still carries over to this day.
At age ten, he would run his first road race - the Paden City 3-mile Fun Run. His mom told him it was too long of a race for a 10-year-old. She was convinced it would stunt his growth if he ran that far, but eventually she would give her approval. The race was held on Saturday, August 31, 1975, and would be the first time he had ever ran in an organized road race. In the 3 mile race, Steve won the 14 and under age group, although he was only 10 years old in just under 23 minutes. While in middle school, he would wear his race t-shirt everyday as a badge showing his declaration that he was a "runner"...just like his older brothers.
In 1976 two of his brothers, Cliff and Matt joined two first cousins (brothers Dale and Kevin) to win the state meet 4x880 Relay and set the meet record. Their record still stands since the English measurements were retired when the events changed to metric. Steve would sit in the stands at the old Laidley Field and watch his family compete. It was at 11 years old that Steve knew that he wanted to be part of that. After they won that 4x880 race, state championship titles became expected by them.
The family members were constantly trying to outdo each other while being supportive of one another.
By the time Steve got to high school following his four older brothers (Mike, Cliff, Matt and Vernon) and numerous cousins, his race battles were nearly won just by the reputation of his brothers, cousins and the name "Taylor".
His brothers taught him that there were three qualities you had to have to become successful as a distance runner and they hold true to this day: 1) You must be willing to work - no lazy person will ever have success as a distance runner. 2) You must be competitive…competitive to your soul - In races you must have a purpose and your purpose must be engrained deeper than that of your competitor. 3) You must be willing to embrace pain and push through it until you enter another realm. Once you have been there and achieved self-awareness at that level, you will want to return to that place. The “runners high” as some people call it, is indescribable, and will call you back for more.
Before High School:
Taylor began competing in track in 1977 as a twelve-year-old. There was no formal junior high program at the time in Pleasants County. He and some friends would race in an occasional road race, however the only track meet that his middle school would have the opportunity to compete in was a junior high meet at Parkersburg High School in Parkersburg, WV. He entered the Mile, the longest race they offered. His first competition was against a 9th grader by the name of Brian G. who was winning all the junior high Mile and 880 races and remained undefeated at that level. He also competed for the PHS “Big Reds” as a 9th grader and was still eligible for junior high competition. Brian settled on Taylor’s shoulder the entire race. He shot past Taylor in the final turn, while crossing the finish line two-and-a-half seconds ahead. Steve was disappointed at finishing runner-up, but it would be what Brian’s mother said that would never be forgotten “My Brian was the one that beat you.” She then went on to say, “Don’t worry honey, one day you could be as good as my Brian”, as she patted him lightly on the left shoulder. Those words and actions were unbelievable to him. They really rubbed Steve the wrong way, and stuck with him throughout his running career. He learned a valuable lesson from this race, that in the sport of distance running you must be prepared. They faced each other several times after that initial meeting and Brian beat him on another occasion in his career. As Steve reached his junior year of high school he won the West Virginia AAA State Cross Country meet and Brian was over 75 seconds behind him.
Steve attended St Marys High School in St. Marys, West Virginia. He was coached by Jerry Rea who was inducted into the 2007 Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall-of-Fame.
St. Marys competed in the single “A” classification, but while Steve was in High School there was only one West Virginia State Cross Country Championship race which included A, AA & AAA teams.
During the 1980 fall cross country season, his sophomore year, St. Marys placed three runners (Lee Haddox - 3rd, Steve Taylor - 5th, Tom Hill - 7th) in the top 10. No other school matched their 1980 cross country performance. Unfortunately, they did not qualify as a team, but as three individuals.
During his junior (1981) and senior (1982) cross country seasons, he was a two-time high school All-American in cross country.
As he reached his junior year of high school he won the West Virginia AAA State Cross Country meet. That state cross country win at Camp Virgil Tate, in what he describes as one of his most painful races which taught Steve that his body was capable of tolerating much more pain than your mind typically believes. This race gave him the confidence three weeks later to win (15:18.8) the 1981 Kinney (now Foot Locker) Northeast Regional Championship race in Van Cortlandt Park in New York, NY. He then went on to place 7th (15:05.1) at the 1981 Kinney National Championship at Disney World Shades of Green Golf Course in Kissimmee, FL.
As a senior, he repeated as the individual state cross country champion. He placed 4th (15:23.9) at the 1982 Kinney Northeast Regional at Van Cortlandt Park in New York, NY. Fellow West Virginian, Brian Redman of Keyser High, placed 10th in the same race. Only the top 8 qualified, however two runners in the top 8 could not go due to injury, so Redman was offered a spot at the National Final. Steve placed 3rd (14:53.6) at the 1982 Kinney Cross Country National Championship at Disney World Shades of Green Golf Course in Kissimmee, FL, while Redman placed 23rd (15:30.5).
In the past thirty-five years, there have only been a total of two runners that have qualified twice for the Kinney/Foot Locker National Championship: St. Mary High’s Steve Taylor (7th place-1981 and 3rd place-1982) and University High’s Amelia Paladino.
There were only two classifications when Steve competed in track – A/AA and AAA.
During track, he was a three-time West Virginia Track Athlete of the Year for three consecutive seasons (1981-1983).
In 1980, as a freshman, he ran a leg on Blue Devils 4 x 800-meter relay state championship team (8:09.44).
In 1981, as a sophomore, St. Marys won the West Virginia High School State Track & Field Championship. Steve won the 3200-meter run (9:26.60) and ran the anchor leg on the winning 4 x 800-meter relay team.
In 1982, as a junior, Steve ran 9:05 for 3200-meter run at Bellaire Relays in Ohio, which ranked in the top 10 nationally at years’ end. There were no national high school championship meets back then.
Later in the season, the St. Marys boys track team tied for first-place honors with Raleigh-Liberty in the state championship with 56 points. Steve went 3-for-4 in his quest for a sweep of his favorite events – 4 x 800-meter relay, 3200-meter run, 1600- and 800-meter runs.
He placed 2nd in the 800-meter run (1:57.42), won the 1600-meter run (4:20.96) in new meet record, won the 3200-meter run (9:14.88) in a new meet record and ran the anchor leg on the winning the 4 x 800-meter relay team (8:00.9) in a new meet record. He took high point honors with 30 ½ points.
In 1983, as a senior, at a WVU All-Comers indoor track meet held in the Shell Building on Sunday afternoon February 6, 1983 he ran 8:31.7 for 3K to beat Don Norman. Don was tough and led that whole race until Steve was able to pass him near the finish line. That time ranked in the top 10 nationally that winter as reported by T&F News. There were no honors awarded for indoor track back then.
Steve ran 8:27 to win the Penn Relays 3K (56.4 over the last 400m) and later that season ran 8:21 at Golden West Classic (Sacramento, CA), which ranked high enough to earn All-America honors.
Taylor completed a triple crown at the West Virginia State Track & Field Championships. He won the 800-meter run (1:55.84), 1600-meter run (4:27.67), and 3200-meter run (9:09.83) in a new meet record. He took high point honors with 31 points. Back when Steve ran, the distance races (800m,1600m/3200m) at the State Championships were all held on the Saturday session of the meet, whereas today they are split on Friday (4x800m/3200m) and Saturday (1600m/800m). During Taylor’s era the 3200m was held Saturday morning with the 1600m in the afternoon with only the 200m between it and the 800m. It made the 4 x 800m relay (Friday), 3200m, 1600m & 800m quad (Saturday) a bit tricky. He had never won the 800m at that point, so he ran the 1600m as easily as he could to win, since there was literally 20 minutes between the 1600m and 800m final.
From 1980-1983, he was an 11-time West Virginia State High School Champion in cross country and track.
To date, in track, Taylor ranks on the West Virginia State Meet AA-A Boys All-Time Top Ten List: 800m (rank #5) in 1:55.84; 1600m (rank #5) in 4:20.96; 3200m (rank #1) in 9:09.83, (rank #2) in 9:14.88, and (rank #8) in 9:26.60. Steve ranks on the 3200-meters All-Class All-Time Top Ten at #4 in 9:09.84 and #9 in 9:14.88. In cross country, he ranks #1 all time for all classes in West Virginia High School Cross Country with a time of 14:53.6.
Steve’s holds SMHS Boy’s Track & Field records in: 800-meter run (1:55.84 / 1983); 1600-meter run (4:18.0 / 1983); 3200-meter run (9:04.8 / 1983); 4 x 800-meter relay [Steve Taylor, Tom Hill, John Hashman, Rob Taylor] (8:00.01 / 1982).
In June of 1999, Steve was inducted into the Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall-of-Fame.
Taylor attended West Virginia University for two Year’s before transferring to Virginia Tech. In 1983, while at WVU, he won the Atlantic 10 Conference Cross Country Championship in a time of 25:51 and helped the Mountaineers to the NCAA Cross Country Championships, while in 1984 he was Atlantic 10 runner-up behind WVU teammate Jean-Pierre Ndayisenga.
While attending Virginia Tech, he was one of Tech’s finest athletes in the 1980’s. He paced the 1987 Tech cross country team to a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Championships while placing ninth among individuals to earn All-America honors. In 1986, he won the metro conference meet. Taylor earned All-American honors in track as a 10,000-meter runner placing 3rd in 1987 and holds the school records in the 3,000- and 5,000-meter runs.
He received a B.S. from Tech in 1988. Taylor earned his degree in education with a sports management option.
In the fall of 1999, he was inducted into the Virginia Tech Sports Hall of Fame becoming only the second coach (along with Frank Beamer) in school history to be inducted while still serving the university.
Taylor was involved in professional road racing. He participated in the 1991 World Championship marathon in Tokyo, 1991 World Marathon Cup in London, England and the 1995 World Marathon Cup in Athens, Greece and was the top team USA finisher in both World Cup competitions. He finished sixth in the 1992 Olympic Marathon Trials held in Columbus, Ohio, and he was named alternate to the Olympic team. In 1988, he won the TAC (USA Track & Field) national championship at 10,000-meters off a stellar kick covering the final 800m in 1:55.4 and won the RRCA 10 Mile National Championship in Raleigh, NC.
As of 2016, he still holds U.S. National Age Group records in: 15K (at age 20 ran 44:52 on 3/8/1986 in Jacksonville, FL), 10 Miles (at age 23 ran 47:01 on 4/1/1989 in Washington D.C.) and Half-Marathon (at age 20 ran 1:04:54 on 1/11/1986 in Savanah, GA-1985).
During his career Taylor set personal best performances of 4:00.6 in the Mile (Roanoke, Va., 1990), 13:38 in the 5000 meters (Nissiping, Sweden, 1989), 27:59 in the 10K (Pittsburg, Pa., 1988), 47:01 in the 10 Mile (Washington, D.C., 1989), 1:02:29 in the Half-Marathon (Toronto, Canada, 1990) and 2:13:56 in the Marathon (Columbus, Ohio, 1990).
Taylor was an assistant track coach at Cave Spring High School in Roanoke for two years and the Lord Botetourt in Daleville for one season before returning to Blacksburg to coach at his Alma Mater. He was the Head Men's Cross Country Coach at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia from August 1991 to August 2001. He’s the Head Men's Track & Field and Cross Country Coach Assistant Women's Track & Field and Cross Country Coach at University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia from August 2001 to present.
He is also the Founder/President of the Collegiate Running Association from its creation in 2013 to present, a 501©3 organization promoting healthy lifestyles among college students through running. The Collegiate Running Association is the first and currently only organization (as of 2016) to offer prize money specifically to college students.
Steve Taylor married Lori McKee in July of 1987, who is the Director of Track and Head Women's Cross Country and Track & Field Coach at the University of Richmond. Steve and Lori have a son, Luke.
Steve Taylor's Running Accomplishments:
1996 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials Qualifier (Charlotte, N.C.)
1995 U.S. World Marathon Cup Team (Athens, Greece)
1992 U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials (sixth place, second alternate - Columbus, Ohio)
1991 USATF World Championships Track & Field Team (Marathon - Tokyo, Japan)
1991 U.S. World Marathon Cup Team (London, England)
1991 U.S. Marathon Leader (April-October)
1990 Fourth at U.S. Marathon Championships (Columbus, Ohio)
1990 All-time Canadian National All-Comers Record at Half-Marathon (1:02:29 - Toronto, Ontario)
1989 National Age Group Record at 10 Miles (age 23 – 47:01 - Washington, D.C.)
1989 Won the Charleston Distance Run 15-Miler for his third time (age 24 – 1:15:27)
1988 The Athletics Congress National Champion (10,000 meters - Tampa, Fla.)
1988 RRCA National Champion (10 miles - Raleigh, N.C.)
1988 U.S. Olympic Trials Qualifier (10,000 meters - Indianapolis, Ind.)
1988 Second-fastest 10K time in U.S. -- T&F News, Feb. 1989 (27:59)
1987 Won the Charleston Distance Run 15-Miler for his second time (age 22 – 1:14:31)
1987 NCAA Division I All-America Team (cross country and track)
1986 National Age Group Record at Half-Marathon (age 20 – 1:04:54 - Savannah, Ga.)
1986 National Age Group Record at 15K (age 20 – 44:52- Jacksonville, Fl.)
1985 First West Virginian to win the Charleston Distance Run 15-Miler (age 20 – 1:16:25)
1982-83 Two-time High School All-American (cross country and track)
1982 Kinney (Foot Locker) National Championships (third place - Orlando, Fla.)
1982 Kinney (Foot Locker) Northeast Region Championship (fourth place - New York, N.Y.)
1981 Kinney (Foot Locker) National Championships (seventh place - Orlando, Fla.)
1981 Kinney (Foot Locker) Northeast Region Champion (New York, N.Y.)
1981-83 Three-time West Virginia Track Athlete of the Year
1980-83 11-time West Virginia State H.S. Champion (cross country and track)