It goes by fast.
Those words describe Marcus Gaylor, one of the state’s fastest high school sprinters.
Those words also motivate the Columbia River senior. They tell a lesson Gaylor took to heart when his grandmother Donna Gaylor, 78, died in July from complications of lymphoma.
She would always tell me, ‘you only have a certain amount of time,’ Gaylor said. “When she passed away, I realized that things do happen fast and can change just like that.”
Leave it to a sprinter to understand the importance of time. This spring, Gaylor has spent many hours on a quest to shave off a few tenths of a second.
Last year, Gaylor finished third in the 100 meters and fourth in the 200 at the Class 3A state meet.
Inspired by his grandmother, Gaylor says it’s state title or bust this year. Last week at Kelso, he ran 10.33 in the 100 and 22.18 in the 200, both faster than his times at state. His 100 time set a school record.
“My determination is stronger this year,” Gaylor said. “With this being my senior year, you want to give your best back to your school and all they’ve done for you.”
Time can also play tricks on a sprinter’s mind. Gaylor said a big race can affect his thinking for weeks in advance. The top sprinters know what their rivals have run, and they take notice when someone posts a fast time.
“It’s easy to get into a sprinter’s head,” he said. “Whoever stays the most focused is going to win the race.”
On race day, staying focused often becomes harder as the race nears. Through his warm-up jog and stretches, Gaylor said he thinks mostly about getting a fast start.
When he steps into the starting blocks, he feels like a rocket fueled by adrenaline. He needs to keep his whits, though, as a false start can mean disqualification.
“The adrenaline is pumping and you just want to go,” Gaylor said. “It’s hard to stay focused.”
While Gaylor’s strength is probably the 100, he enjoys the 200 because he can track runners down if his start isn’t perfect. With the 100, it’s all about that initial burst.
“Whatever happens after that is going to happen,” he said.
Gaylor hopes to run track and play football in college. During spring break, he visited Pasadena City College, a junior college that has seen many athletes move on to four-year schools.
For a sprinter who likes to get ahead of people, Gaylor is trying not to get ahead of himself.
He’s focused on winning a state title. Though that moment is more than a month away, Gaylor knows the time will come soon.
After all, it goes by fast.