FORT WORTH, TX - Pole vaulting is Lakan Taylor' favorite sport.
"Oh yeah, I mean I love it,' Lakan says. It's gotten me the most success. I would think I m pretty good at it.
Pretty good isn't the word. Her jump of 13 feet 9 inches remains the top indoor jump in the nation this year, although her personal best goes one inch beyond that. She will compete Friday at the state meet in Austin as the defending champion in Class 4A.
"I train every day as hard as I can because I know someone out there is going to be better than me," Lakan says. "I mean, I don't take any of it for granted."
Pole vaulters come in all shapes and sizes," says Boswell High School coach Curtis Lamle. "You've got to be fearless - and she is, I promise you that."
The senior from Boswell High School is only 5 foot 3 which means she's clearing the bar more than eight and a half feet above her head. Being a former gymnast helped her develop much of her upper body strength. "When she used to be on the beam and doing flips on the beam, that to me that scared me more than her pole vaulting," says her mother Tina Taylor.
"I used to be afraid of heights," Lakan says. "People are like, well if you're afraid of heights, how do you do pole vaulting. It's really not. You're in the air for about a second so it's not really bad. I just like going higher and higher. It's just fun."
Maybe she gets her fearless attitude from her father Monty Taylor, who used to be a professional bull rider. "I don't know about that, maybe it does"says her father. "I don't know if it's called fearless or maybe something else."
After high school, Lakan is headed to Alabama on a track and field scholarship. Her goal there is to jump even higher and eventually qualify for the Olympic team headed to Rio in 2016. "That's just my goal, I mean the Olympic people jump about 15," Lakan says. "I'm sure I can get up another foot and a half when I go to college those four years." And that would put her in world class territory.
Follow George Riba on Twitter at @GeorgeRiba.