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Monday, March 4, 2024

LSSC sophomore has eyes set on becoming an Olympic athlete

A Lake Sumter State College sophomore who earned the college’s first national recognition for track and field has set his ambitions on becoming an Olympic athlete.

The National Junior College Athletic Association named sprinter Jaabir Taylor as the Men’s Indoor Track & Field Athlete of the Week after a standout performance on the track last weekend. 

Taylor, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, competed in the 400-meter dash at the Celebration Pointe Classic in Gainesville on Saturday, Feb. 3. He ran in heat eight of the 400-meter finals, taking first in his heat and 18th overall in the event competing among NJCAA, NAIA and NCAA Division I and II athletes. His time of 51:41 was good for a new personal record and marked his third consecutive PR of the season. He was also the highest-finishing NJCAA athlete in the event. 

Head Coach Cristy Snellgroves expressed her excitement for Taylor’s achievement. 

“As Jaabir’s coach, I could not be prouder to see him recognized as the NJCAA Athlete of the Week. His dedication to his sport and his unwavering commitment to excellence are truly commendable.  

With a clear goal of becoming an Olympic athlete, Jaabir consistently puts in the work and effort required to achieve his dreams. His determination, discipline, and passion for his craft serve as an inspiration to his teammates and coaches alike,” said Snellgroves.

LSSC News Jaabir Taylor 2
Jaabir Taylor, right, finishes first to earn national recognition for LSSC Track & Field.

“Jaabir’s dedication to his sport exemplifies the values we aim to instill in our student athletes,” said Padraic McMeel, LSSC Executive Director of Athletics. “Under the leadership of Coach Snellgroves, these players are becoming well-rounded individuals who not only excel athletically but also grow personally and professionally.” 

“I am proud to congratulate Jaabir Taylor for this recognition as NJCAA Track & Field Athlete of the Week! We take great pride in the achievements of our student-athletes,” shared LSSC President Heather Bigard. “Jaabir’s success underscores the positive influence that our athletics program has on our student athletes and showcases our commitment to character development within the program. Go Lakehawks!” 

“I have no doubt that Jaabir will continue to make strides towards his Olympic aspirations, and I am excited to see him continue to excel as an athlete and a student,” added Snellgroves. 

Men’s and Women’s Track & Field is in its inaugural season at LSSC, expanding from Men’s and Women’s Cross Country teams that started in 2019. Track & Field practices at the National Training Center facility in Clermont, located next to the college’s South Lake Campus. 

Coach Snellgroves boasts an impressive resume as a two-time U.S. medalist in the 50-mile National Championships, a bronze medalist at the Comrades Marathon 89k South Africa and over 130 marathons completed in her running career. Snellgroves also trains Olympic-level athletes and coaches with Team USA Track & Field. 

The teams will be back in Gainesville this weekend for their final regular season meet before competing at the 2024 NJCAA Indoor Track & Field Championships in March. 

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