WEST ORANGE, NJ — Taylor Aska, a 12-year-old student at Liberty Middle School in West Orange, has exhibited her love for track and field as well as her commitment to the craft through her participation in the Jaguar Track Club, a local organization that serves young people who are interested in the sport. 

Aska was recognized as "Athlete of the Year" in her age category (11-12-year-old girls) by the USA Track & Field (USATF) New Jersey Chapter for her accomplishments in the long jump event this January. Under the guidance of the Jaguar Track Club, Aska is also the national champion in the long-jump field event for 12-year-old girls at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) 2019 National Club Championships with a jump of 16’-01.50 (4.91m), earning her the gold medal.

This season, Aska has been competing in the Colgate Women’s Games held at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY; and she is poised to make her third appearance as a finalist. The Colgate Women’s Games started in 1974 as a platform for female athletes to showcase their athletic abilities while progressing in their academic achievements.

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Aska is one of only six finalists in the middle school category who will progress to compete in the 55-meter dash, with the final competition to be held at the New Balance Armory in New York City in February.

Currently, Aska and her Jaguar teammates Rihanna Scott, Aleia Heywood and Rhia Randolph represent a determined 4x200 relay team. The team will compete in the finals for the USATF 2020 New York Road Runners (NYRR) Milrose Games on Feb. 8, also to be held at the New Balance Armory in New York City. Aska and her teammates qualified for the finals after placing second at the NYRR Millrose trials on Jan. 8.

Aska has been competing on the national level and receiving national recognition since the age of 7, at which time she was developing with the Lightning Track Club under the guidance of Coach Al Johnson.

She continues to develop her athletic skills within the Jaguar Track Club while also furthering her academic accomplishments as well by maintaining a “high-honor-roll” status at Liberty Middle School.

According to the Jaguar Track Club, Aska's commitment, discipline and passion for track and field are fueled by the coaching skills and leadership of the organization, which was founded by Maurice and Daneen Cooper and Carl Lea of Maplewood and Andrea Johnson of South Orange.

Many of Aska's Jaguar Track Club team members have also received accolades in various track and field categories. The Jaguar Track Club has continued to excel in the field event of long jump as well as many other areas under the direction of the esteemed coaching staff.

The Jaguar Track Club, which held its first practice on April 8, 1996, is a program of the South Orange Department of Recreation and is open to athletes throughout Essex County and neighboring communities.