Taylor Vann, a junior from Conventry, Conn., has been rocketing through the regional and national standings for the decathlon event this season. Currently sitting in the top ten for national decathlon times, Vann has seen some success over the past several weeks. He recently won the decathlon competition at the Slifen Track and Field Invitational, posting a score that slated him first in the ECAC and third in the NCAA.
Vann went into the meet with a clear vision, “I really was looking to excel in certain things, really tried to go for some big marks. And it ended up being a personal best in overall score. So now I’m in the top 10 in the country, so we’ll see how that holds up.”
Looking forward, Vann has a chance to qualify himself for the national tournament by way of placing in the top 20 at the upcoming ECAC Championship. “[I plan] to really try to go for a really big score and hopefully qualify for nationals, which is top 20. So then up to that point, it’s going to be about getting really specific with my events. Like in the one this weekend I’m doing hurdles and javelin, next weekend just finding things to work on and trying to make it all come together in one day – two days,” he explained.
The ability to pay such careful, close attention to each of his many responsibilities is what makes Vann such an impressive decathlete. Senior teammate Brian Deer also identified this dedication to individual responsibilities as one of Taylor’s strong suits. “What I admire most about Taylor in terms of athletics is his ability to focus on the task at hand. Since he is a decathlete, he has a lot of different things to worry about on any given day, training for all of those different events, but when I see him practicing his javelin technique, or doing hurdle drills, or doing pole vault work in the pool, I see him totally focused on what he is doing at that moment. Same thing when he is competing. Despite all the other events he has to worry about, he devotes 100% of himself to the present moment,” he elaborated.
In Vann’s eyes, one of the best things he has to offer VC track is his impressive work ethic: “People really see me working on those events out on the field by myself either before or after practice, and I think it kind of just reinforces what I’m trying to give off to the team. Trying to be motivated, be determined to succeed at all costs, even if it means working by myself, putting in extra hours and stuff like that. It’s about the effort, going above and beyond is another theme that I try to bring to the team.”
His senior teammate Eliot Gerson tends to agree. Gerson contended, “he has an incredible work ethic and is fully committed to doing whatever it takes to be successful. He puts in hours and hours at practice to master both the technical and physical demands of the decathlon, but there’s more to it than that. Our coaches talk about track as a lifestyle. It’s not something you just do for a couple hours a day and then move on from.”
Gerson commented further on Vann’s ethic, “Taylor is obviously a talented athlete and he is clearly willing to put in the work necessary to make the most of that talent. He is a great teammate because of his ability to lead by example. He holds himself to a high standard and inspires us to do the same.”
But the time he spends working hard out on the field doesn’t feel like work to Taylor. “We have a lot of fun together. Practice is several hours but it doesn’t matter because I’m just around my friends all the time, so that’s great.” Being part of a team has really diversified Vann’s experience in collegiate athletics, making it an experience about meeting a wide breadth of people. He explained, “It’s great doing a co-ed sport, because you get different types of people – a lot of different personalities, mindsets, experiences, things like that. So the team is really close from bottom to top, all through the classes, different event groups, things like that.”
And for Vann, cultivating his own success is just as important as his teammates’ success. “My girlfriend is Heather Ingerham, she was All-American last year for track, so she’s really fast. I love being able to cheer people on, it’s great to be on the track, and you’re really into it and you want somebody to succeed so badly and when they actually do succeed, everything just comes together so well.”
This selfless trait in Vann has grown an interest in a more collaborative endeavour, as one of his goals through the end of this season is to compete on relay teams.
He anticipates his participation, “I have some opportunities to be on some of those relays in the next few meets. I love being on the relays, it’s great to be with my other teammates in an actual event. So I’d love to be on the 4×4 relay that qualifies for the ECAC meet and just experience a really successful day with my teammates and not just by myself.”
His endearing traits and desire to interact with the team have really left an impact on the program. Deer described it, “[Taylor] is definitely one of the leaders of the team, one who everyone looks to, and he really cares about every one of his teammates…Taylor has brought the same thing he has brought every year: a consistent, relentless focus on the things he wants both he himself and the team as a whole to achieve. I think he has stepped up his leadership a bit, being an upperclassmen now and realizing that that comes with some extra responsibility, but it’s in a natural way because he has always been a leader.”