Taylor Hooks believes her best is yet to come in track.
Oakland University is counting on it.
The Amherst High School senior and eight-time Division I state qualifier made the Horizon League’s Golden Grizzlies her college of choice recently after also considering Bowling Green, Robert Morris and Grand Valley State. A formal signing ceremony will be held Feb. 6 at Amherst.
“I know that I haven’t reached my peak yet,” Hooks said. “I feel at college that I can still hit even faster times. I’ll be in even better shape and will be working with a staff of college coaches.”
Hooks is a two-time state qualifier in both the 100- and 200-meter dashes as well as the 4x200 and 4x100 relays. She likely would have added to her state totals last year but an early hamstring injury ended her season prematurely.
Hooks made her official visit to Division I Oakland University on Jan. 12-13, although she and her family also made an unofficial visit to the campus in mid-November.
“I told my parents that I already liked the campus from my earlier visit,” Hooks said. “I got to see more of it this time with my official visit. Something about the coach (Katrina Brumfield) and her vibe just clicked for me. I enjoyed the environment and the interaction with the other students.”
Oakland University is located in Rochester, Mich., 30 miles northwest of Detroit. It is roughly a 21⁄2-hour drive from Amherst.
“The city isn’t dead,” Hooks said. “It’s very vibrant with a lot of things around there like a mall. The campus is very beautiful and all the buildings are very nice.”
Hooks tried basketball in fifth grade and volleyball for five years through freshman year. But since she stands just 5-foot1, she soon realized track and field suited her best.
It helped that she’s good at it, too, which she proved early on by making the state semifinals in four events both as a freshman and sophomore.
Hooks is also in elite company when it comes to Southwestern Conference track and field, having won a total of eight titles her freshman and sophomore seasons. She was the league’s girls Co-MVP in 2016 along with teammate Madison Reynolds.
“We’re very happy for her,” Amherst coach Rob Glatz said. “She is one of the best sprinters in Amherst track and field history. We’re excited she’ll be carrying on her career at the college level. Her speed and her starts are incredible. She’s also a very hard worker in the classroom.”
Hooks is also one of only five girls in the history of the SWC girls meet, dating back to 1975, to win four titles at a conference championship meet multiple times. Hooks has done it twice.
“I know that I would like to run in the low 11s for the 100 meters and the 23s for the 200,” said Hooks, who plans to major in physical therapy. “I would like to pick up long jump again, too. I was doing long jump in high school for a time but I was getting hurt.”
Hooks has been competing in track and field since the fourth grade.
“I just enjoy being around my teammates and all the other competitors,” Hooks said. “To have the bond with your teammates like with the relays and making it to state or the highest level that you can make it to is very special. The smiles on everyone’s faces and how happy everybody is is very special.”
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