Union's Troupe is making one giant leap

Long jumper working her way back to top

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 
photoUnion's Tayler Troupe is on her way back from an ACL injury, aiming to reclaim her school record in the long jump.

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Tayler Troupe set the mark as a freshman in the spring of 2012, taking the Union school record in the long jump all to herself.

Last year, as Troupe sat out the season with a knee injury, a teammate tied that mark. Now that teammate's name is listed on top of the Union track and field record holders board, above Troupe's name.

Uh oh.

"I got it first," Troupe told her coach, Scott Eschels.

Heather Browning was a senior when she tied the mark at 17 feet, 1½ inches, so Eschels put Browning on top.

"I was a freshman, and I got it first," Troupe argued.

Still, Troupe's name is under Browning's name.

You can see where this is going, right?

"At the end of the season, I want my record back," Troupe said.

She set it first. She intends to set it again. And next year, she wants to break her own record.

First, though, Troupe had to recover.

Troupe, who finished ninth in the state meet when she set her mark as a freshman, blew out her right knee during her sophomore season of soccer with the Titans.

"We were running. I was all by myself. I slipped, and I just dropped," she recalled. "My knee made a popping noise. I knew right away I did something really bad."

Still, she held out hope that it was not an ACL injury. It took a week to get a MRI exam, then another week for the results. Troupe remembers her doctor's words when they went over the image.

"This is where your ACL should be, and it's not here," she recalled. "I didn't just tear it. It's gone."

Surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament came in December, and her rehabilitation lasted through much of the summer.

"Rehab was terrible. I hated it," Troupe said. "I'll work, but I'll complain through it all."

Track season came and went without Troupe competing. That was difficult, but she did her best to stay involved.

"The whole track experience is fun. Everything about track is fun for me, being with the team," she said. "It's an individual sport, but it's fun to be there with everyone. We're all connected."

So she became a team manager. Well, sort of.

"I was the worst team manager ever," she said, noting how much she missed competing.

Troupe made it back to the soccer field in the fall, tentative at first, but gaining strength throughout the season.

Now, she is determined to make new marks in her favorite sport. She started track and field in grade school.

"People always made fun of me. When I'd run, I'd have a big smile on my face," she said. "Soccer is always so serious. Track was always so fun. It's just you. It's your accomplishments."

As a freshman, she kept improving throughout the season, eventually making it to state. She just missed making finals with that 17-1½ jump.

Troupe has a good laugh at the memory.

"I was like, 'Ninth in state. I'm pretty great. I'm pretty amazing, now that I think about it,' " she says with a smile.

A year later, she is sharing the school record. Not only that, but her name is not even listed first.

"It was one of things to try to motivate her," Eschels acknowledged. "My hope is I will have to change the top of the board at the end of the season."

Troupe appears to be right on pace, too.

As a freshman, she jumped 16-7 on April 20. At the time, that was her personal record.

This season, she hit 16-7 on Tuesday.

Not a PR, but the best so far during this comeback season.

"I wanted to PR the first meet," she said. "OK, that was not realistic."

You get the idea, though.

If all goes to her plan, Tayler Troupe will leave no doubt that she is the best long jumper at Union.