CHARLOTTESVILLE — Although young in age, Eastern Hancock sophomore Taylor Stine will be one of the veterans this season for the Royals’ track and field team.

With several girls coming out for the sport for the first time, Stine will be asked to help lead a rather young group led by first-year head coach Jade Galyan. And on the track, the talented Stine is already closing in on a school record.

After running approximately 15 to 20 miles per week during winter training, Stine is preparing to top an impressive freshman campaign. She just missed breaking the Eastern Hancock school record in the 800-meter run by four seconds last season (2:22).

However, Stine did win the 400-meter dash at the Mid-Hoosier Conference meet as a freshman and helped the Royals also take first in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter relays.

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At the Hancock County cross-country meet this season, Stine finished fourth overall, missing third place by one second. As a freshman, she was seventh at the county meet.

“(Stine) is just a competitor and does not like to get beat,” Galyan said, who remembers the sophomore winning several races in middle school while she was coaching the boys’ team. “If someone is in front of her, it is actually better for her. She’s just a hard worker.

“She is definitely one of the girls I consider a veteran. She knows what is expected to be successful.”

What sets Stine apart, though, besides her undeniable athleticism, is her desire to succeed. Stine, hands down, is her own worst critic.

“Even if my coaches think I did well, I will find something that I didn’t,” Stine said, whose father and grandfather ran at Morristown.

Already logging countless miles in her young career, Stine has battled knee and hip ailments, but is feeling close to 100 percent, she said. Now, with another cross country season under her belt, mixed with a productive offseason, the 800-meter track record is in serious trouble.

Last year, Stine learned just how competitive, and sometimes intimidating, the high school level can be. Now, she’s ready.

“I’ve learned that if you don’t work on your own, you are not going to be in the shape you want to be in,” Stine said. “It is going to show through your activities.”

After placing 10th at the New Palestine Sectional and 34th at the Rushville Regional during cross country this year, Stine knows she is beginning to come into her own. But according to Galyan, she is far from her peak.

“I think (Stine) is still getting better each year,” Galyan said. “The sky is the limit for her. I don’t think we’ve seen the best she can give.”

Eastern Hancock begins its outdoor season today at 5 p.m. at rival Knightstown.

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Kris Mills is a sports reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at 317-477-3230 or kmills@greenfieldreporter.com.