Taylor Blanton at West/Central State Meet [Jeff LaBonte photo]

Auburn High sophomore Taylor Blanton is heading to Australia to represent the USA in the 2019 Down Under Sports International Games. 

Blanton has proven herself a standout track athlete at AHS, particularly as a hurdler. This spring season in 400m hurdles, she placed first in the Southern Worcester County League meet, first at Districts where she set a new AHS school record in 400m hurdles, and placed 8th overall at states. In addition, she was named a SWCL All-Star. 

This past winter, Blanton received a letter from an organization called Down Under Sports inviting her to compete with hundreds of international athletes at the 19th annual competition to be held near Brisbane, Australia. While the cost and the logistics were daunting, after a discussion with her family, she decided to go for it. 

On July 7, Taylor and her mother, Mercedes – a U.S. Coast Guard veteran – will depart for Los Angeles where they will meet up with others from the USA contingent heading across the Pacific. Once in Australia, the athletes will get about a day and half of rest and sightseeing before practices begin. There are three full days of competition.

“I will competing in the 400 hurdle, the 100 hurdle, and the 3K” said Blanton. “I’m a little nervous, but excited.”

The travel also comes at a cost, which the family is hoping to defray through fundraising and an active GoFundMe page. They are hoping to raise about $10,000 to cover airfare, hotel, meals and registration fees. 

Besides her blossoming track career, Taylor also plays soccer for AHS and FC Napoli. 

Taylor received attention for some other exciting but frightening reasons in recent years. When she was 12 and home alone after school, someone attempted to break into her home. Blanton had the composure to phone police and then video the perpetrator, who was apprehended by Auburn Police moments later attempting to break into another home. Two years ago, a boiler issue caused an explosion, severely damaging the Pakachoag St. home they rent. The family has since recovered from the trauma, and was able to recently purchase the repaired home. 

Anyone wishing to help the Blantons fund this once in a lifetime opportunity are asked to visit her fundraising page at https://www.gofundme.com/taylor-blanton-team-usa-400-m-sprinterhurdler