Southwest DeKalb senior hurdler Isaiah Taylor (Left) wins the DCSD 110-meter hurdles and now has the Georgia Gatorade Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award. This marks the sixth time for a Panther to win the award. (Photo by Mark Brock)

Southwest DeKalb senior hurdler Isaiah Taylor (Left) wins the DCSD 110-meter hurdles and now has the Georgia Gatorade Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year Award. This marks the sixth time for a Panther to win the award. (Photo by Mark Brock)

Southwest DeKalb senior Isaiah Taylor became the ninth DeKalb County track and field athlete to be named the Georgia Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year as the award was announced earlier this week by the GHSA.

Taylor joins four other Southwest DeKalb Gatorade honorees including his father Angelo Taylor who was a two-time winner (1995, 1996) and went on to win gold in the Olympics.

“I was excited when I found out on Instagram that morning,” said Taylor. “One of my biggest accomplishments and it continues a great legacy of track at Southwest DeKalb.”

The senior swept the Class 4A State Meet hurdle event and was part of the gold medal winning 4×400 relay squad including his twin brother Xzaviah, Therrian Alexander III and Xavier Turner to propel the Panthers to a second consecutive state title (Class 5A champs in 2022) and 12th overall for the school.

Taylor won the 300-meter hurdles in a new state record time and best boys’ prep time of the year of 35.94 for his third individual gold medal at state. He had earlier won the 110-hurdles in a time of 13.70 (16th best in the U.S. in 2023).

He accomplished a great season despite battling a stress fracture in his foot after an accident at home. The last month of the season was spent mostly training in a swimming pool.

“I’m extremely proud of Isiah getting the award and what he was able to do in a tough situation with his injured foot,” said his dad, Angelo. “He spent most of the last month of the season in the pool and only had about five days on the track practicing. He always listens and takes in what I and the coaches say. He kept studying his film and other hurdlers’ films while he was not on the track and when I would mention a point to him, he already knew about it. He is very self-aware. He is everything a father would want in a son on and off the track.”

He and his teammates clinched the 2023 Class 4A state track title with a new state record of 3:10.55. The mark broke a 36-year-old mark set by another Southwest DeKalb team at 3:13.21 in 1987. That 1987 team of consisted of two former Gatorade award winners Kelly Carter (1987 Gatorade winner) and Hasson Graham (1990 Gatorade winner) along with Rodney Hooks and Eddie Miller.

Taylor finishes his career with three individual gold medals (1 in 110 hurdles, 2 in 300 hurdles), two silver (2 in 110 hurdles) and part of three consecutive 4×400 relay state gold medals and two 4×100 relay gold medals. Not only has he been part of two state titles he also helped Southwest DeKalb to three consecutive DeKalb County Track and Field Championships (2021-23) giving the Panthers 18 total.

“I think Isaiah is well deserving of the award with all that he has accomplished at Southwest DeKalb which would have been more if not for the 2020 season being cut short due to Covid,” said Southwest DeKalb track coach Bob Mullen. “He had a tremendous career working hard and encouraging his brother and other teammates to get better.”

DeKalb County Schools now has a total of 16 Georgia Gatorade Track and Field Awards dating back to 1987 when Kelly Carter became the first to win the award. Eight guys have won the award (Angelo Taylor twice) and seven girls have been honored dating back to 1989 when Sequoyah’s Tisha Prather was the first from DeKalb to get named.

The Gatorade Player of the Year Award recognizes not only outstanding athletic excellence but also high standards of academic achievement and exemplary character on and off the field. Winning the state award now puts Taylor as a finalist for the Gatorade National Girls Soccer Player of the Year with 50 other players (49 others states and Washington D.C.).

Taylor holds a 3.35 GPA in the classroom and will join his twin brother (Xzaviah Taylor) to run tack and North Carolina A&T this fall. He volunteers locally at Watson’s Ministries, the Atlanta Food Bank and the YMCA. He has also donated his time as a Senate Page in the Georgia state capitol.

Another part of winning the Gatorade Award is being able to pay it forward for the next generation. The Play It Forward initiative awards each winner a grant to give to one of Gatorade’s social impact partners to fuel the future of sport. The grants to date have totaled more than $3.5 million across more than 1,300 organizations.

BOYS (9)
1987 – Kelly Carter, SW DeKalb, Hurdles
1990 – Hasson Graham, SW DeKalb, Sprint
1995 – Angelo Taylor, SW DeKalb, Hurdles
1996 – Angelo Taylor, SW DeKalb, Hurdles
1997 – Terrance Trammell, SW DeKalb, Hurdles
2001 – Joshua Walker, Stephenson, Hurdles/Relay
2005 – Justin Oliver, Redan, Sprint/Long Jump
2009 – Ken Gilstrap, Miller Grove, Sprint

1989 – Tisha Prather, Sequoyah, Sprint
1994 – Lesheal Johnson, Columbia, WT
1995 – Kelly Perryman, Columbia, Sprint
1998 – Shannon Murray, Columbia, Sprint
2002 – LaKendra McCoulmen, SW DeKalb, Hurdles
2005 – Aleesha Barber, Redan, Hurdles
2021 – Janae Profit, Dunwoody, Discus/Shot Put