Tommell runs her way to Rookie of the Year

Leader of the pack: Guilderland native Taylor Tommell won a Rookie-of-the-Year award from the North Eastern Athletic Conference for her efforts with the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill women’s cross-country team this year. Her personal record for a 5K race is 19:23.

Reason to smile: Taylor Tommell, a 2013 Guilderland High School graduate, led her SUNY Cobleskill women’s cross-country team to its fifth consecutive conference championship this year. She was named Rookie of the Year by the league’s coaches.

GUILDERLAND — Some rookies make a fine first impression, and that’s exactly what Taylor Tommell did.

After six top-10 finishes for the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill women’s cross-country team this season and a third-place finish at the North Eastern Athletic Conference Championships, Tommell was named Rookie of the Year by the league’s coaches. The 2013 Guilderland High School graduate led the Fighting Tigers to its fifth consecutive NEAC title.

“I never pictured anything like this,” Tommell said. “I didn’t start out that great, but I ended up in an awesome place.”

Tommell was a consistent runner for the Dutch throughout high school, and she says that the other runners competing around her have always pushed her to perform better. Upon arriving at Cobleskill, Tommell thought it would “feel odd” if she didn’t run for the cross-country team.

“I love running; you can do it forever,” said Tommell. “I just love it. I don’t want to brag, but I’m getting good at it.”

When Tommell wasn’t running, she said, her grades in school were lower. She’s majoring in communications at Cobleskill, and wants to pursue a career in writing.

“I want to be the next J.K. Rowling,” she said, referring to the author of the popular Harry Potter books, “and, when I tell people that, they look at me like I have five heads. When I started running competitively, my grades went up. It just helps me do better in school.”

Tommell didn’t have any first-place finishes for Cobleskill this year, but she was usually the first Fighting Tigers’ runner to cross the finish line during a race. The number of runners in the field always varies, but it’s typically around 100, she said.

“Everyone gets tired, but it’s a mental sport, so you have to think past being tired,” said Tommell, who has a personal record of 19:23 for a 5K race. “I try to place near the top every time, and I’m always looking for a better time.”

Winning the Rookie-of-the-Year award has given Tommell a new perspective. She would be discouraged if she didn’t improve next year.

“I’m at the top of my game, and I’ll try even harder now,” she said. “I’m really proud, my coach is really proud, and my parents are really proud, but that’s pretty much it.”

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