It is mid-February and Taylor Walton is competing in his first-ever college track and field competition, a dual-meet against Pomona-Pitzer. Walton eyes the orange high jump bar set at 6′ 8.75,” well above his height of 6′ 5.” With power and grace, he races forward and flies above the bar, arching his back as he clears it. Walton’s remarkable jump represents the fifth highest on Occidental’s all-time list.
Taylor Walton was born to jump. A basketball player from a young age, Walton has always impressed teammates and coaches alike with his incredible athletic ability. During his junior basketball season at Branson High School in San Francisco, the track coach came out to watch Walton play. After seeing him throw down a ferocious dunk, he promptly convinced him to try track and field. For Walton, high jump seemed like the most suitable event.
“High jump appealed to me because I’ve always had hops,” Walton said. “I like its primal nature and how it’s easy to tell who’s better, since it’s about who can jump the highest.”
Due to his supreme athleticism, Walton was an attractive option for several schools. But he knew early on where he wanted to spend his college years.
“I fell in love with Oxy as soon as I visited,” Walton said. “As a result my college process was very easy—I only applied here.”
Now well into his first collegiate track and field season, Walton has his coaches’ enthusiasm running high.
“Coaching Taylor is so exciting because he’s so obviously talented, but he is also nowhere near reaching his potential,” high jump coach David Foley (’12) said.
Foley says most of his work with Walton has involved improving his “in-air technique.” Specifically, these techniques involve arching the back more and raising the hips while attempting to clear the bar. Even with imperfect technique, Walton has dominated the competition in his first season.
“Taylor is already the number one high jumper in the SCIAC,” Foley said, “He has a good shot to make nationals this year and eventually clear seven feet, which would be incredible.”
Walton also plays basketball for Occidental. After earning a position as the team’s starting power-forward in the early stages of the season, he broke his hand and missed most of the remaining games.
Walton’s former teammate Juwan Rice (senior) says the first-year will undoubtedly be an important player in the future.
“Taylor has both extreme athleticism and a hard-working attitude,” Rice said. “That combination may lead to him being one of the top players in the conference in years to come.”
When he is not competing in athletics, Walton spends much of his time hitting the books. While he has not declared a major yet, he is most interested in computer science.
“My main passion besides sports lies in computers,” Walton said. “Anything involving computer programming, coding or graphic design interests me.”
Ultimately, Walton says he hopes to work in one of these areas, although he admits he has not thought extensively about life after college.
Between competing for two varsity sports teams, schoolwork, and maintaining a social life, Walton has found it difficult to fit in other activities on campus. Next year, he hopes to become part of Greek life in an effort to continue meeting new people.
For now, Walton has his sights set on the remainder of this high jump season. According to Foley, Walton likely needs to clear 6’9″ to earn a trip to nationals. If he does so, the first-year will solidify himself as one of the best jumpers in the country.