Sunday, July 25, 2021

Gators In Olympic Games: Taylor Manson

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — In 1968, Jim Bibbs became the first African-American track and field head coach in Michigan State history. Bibbs held the position for nearly 30 years and produced an extraordinary track record of success.

Under his watch, the Spartans racked up 52 individual Big Ten titles and hoisted three NCAA titles.

One of the Michigan State Hall of Famer’s notable accomplishments occurred in 1984 when he tutored Judi Brown in the Olympic games in Los Angeles. Brown claimed a silver medal in the 400-meter hurdles, representing the Spartans and her hometown of East Lansing, Mich.

Fast forward 37 years and another East Lansing native is headed to the Olympics. This time its Florida alumnae Taylor Manson, who you guessed it, also learned a thing or two from Bibbs.

“It’s almost like a dream — and she said that. Because she just graduated, it seems like yesterday, from East Lansing. And then four years later, she’s graduating from college and making the Olympic team,” Bibbs said recently in an interview with WILX News 10 in East Lansing.

Before Manson made the move south to sunny Florida, she was a star athlete at East Lansing High School where she learned from head coach Charles Pollard and Bibbs, who was a volunteer with the program.

Facing off against the nation’s finest competition in the talent-rich Southeastern Conference, Manson elevated her game at Florida and took home 10 All-America honors and garnered four All-SEC designations.

After an up-and-down indoor campaign this past year, Manson, the senior, knew she would need to come up big in the outdoor campaign to keep her dream of qualifying for the Olympics alive. Well, she did just that. At the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials on June 20 in the event’s final round, Manson recorded a personal-best mark of 50.79 in the 400 meters.

“I am extremely excited for Spider [Manson] because she – indoors didn’t go quite the way she wanted – and we had a talk afterwards. She told me she’s always wanted to be an Olympian and I said just remember there are no indoor Olympics so your goal of being an Olympian is still out there,” said Florida head coach Mike Holloway. “The great thing about her was that she trusted me and I trusted her. We trusted her training and she was right when she needed to be. She’s now an Olympian, so I’m extremely excited to see her compete.”

Taylor Manson, shown at the Florida Relays, improved during the 2021 outdoor season and was in good form at the U.S. Olympic Trials earlier this summer in Eugene, Ore. (Photo: Hannah White/UAA Communications) 



Taylor Manson
Sprinter Taylor Manson in action during her career at Florida. (Photo: Tim Casey/UAA Communications)

SPORT: Women’s Track and Field

EVENT: 4×400 meter mixed relay

HOW SHE QUALIFIED: Finished seventh in the 400-meter run with a personal-best mark of 50.79 at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore.; the top eight finalists were selected for the 400-meter relay team.

TOKYO SCHEDULE: July 30 — Mixed 4×400 Relay (Round 1). July 31 — Mixed 4×400 Relay (Final).

UF CAREER: Manson, who wrapped up her collegiate career just this past season, was a 10-time All-American and four-time All-SEC selection for the Gators. Competing primarily in the 400-meter run and the 4×400-meter relay, Manson notched multiple top 10 times in her tenure as a Gator.

NEED TO KNOW: Manson is the first runner from her home town of East Lansing, Mich. to make the Olympics since 1984 when Judi Brown claimed a silver medal in the high hurdles. Jim Bibbs, the former Michigan State head coach, tutored Brown in ’84 and has helped train Manson as well.  

QUOTE OF NOTE: “I met her at some track meets and I’ve talked to her and she’s given me some tips. It’s crazy how I’m also an Olympian. It’s come full circle, I’ll say that.” — Manson on her hometown connection to Brown.

Previously: “Gators In Olympic Games” Series

June 26: Cory McGee  

June 27: Michelle Moultrie 

June 28: Natalie Hinds 

June 29: Adriana Leon

June 30: Enzo Martinez-Scarpe

July 1: Kieran Smith 

July 2: Genevieve LaCaze Gregson

July 3: Will Claye 

July 4: Mark Kolozsvary

July 5: Marife Torres 

July 6: Aubree Munro

July 7: Leanne Wong

July 8: Hakim Sani Brown

July 9: Deanne Rose

July 10: Yanis David

July 11: Marquis Dendy

July 12: Lloydricia Cameron

July 13: Bradley Beal 

July 14: Bobby Finke

July 15: Kelsey Stewart

July 16: Alfonso Mestre

July 17: Amro Al-Wir

July 18: Joseph Fahnbulleh

July 19: Doneisha Anderson

July 20: Eric Friese

July 21: Eddie Lovett

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