Freshman Taliyah Henderson Forming Basis of Unique Career

Salpointe Catholic freshman Taliyah Henderson in the 400m at The 2022 AIA State Track & Field Championships at Mesa Community College.

Photo credit: David McBee/MileSplit Arizona 


There's a burgeoning star being formed right before our eyes.

Her name is Taliyah Henderson and she's a freshman at Salpointe Catholic in Tucson. Henderson won the Division III state title in the 800m at The 2022 AIA State Track & Field Championships with her time of 2:21.60, and she did so pretty easily, coming ahead of her teammate Kylie Wild -- who won the 1600m and 3200m -- by nearly two seconds. 

Here is the full race video of Henderson's win in the 800m:

It was only the third open 800m Henderson ran this season after she won the 18th Annual Mario Castro Track & Field Invitational in mid-March and then finished fifth at The Nike Chandler Rotary Invitational in late March.

In that period from the end of March until the beginning of May, Henderson competed in a handful of 400 meter races as she honed her quarter-mile speed. And it paid dividends, as Henderson finished the season with a personal best of 58.25 to place second in the 400m at the state meet to nab another spot on the podium.

It was the third time Henderson found herself with a medal after she helped anchor Salpointe Catholic to a win in the 4x800 meter relay. And it wouldn't be the last time either. 

Salpointe Catholic freshman Taliyah Henderson crosses the finish line in the Division III Girls 4x800 meter relay at The 2022 AIA State Track & Field championships at Mesa Community College.

Photo credit: David McBee/MileSplit Arizona


Interestingly enough with her background in middle-distance running -- and this is where the uniqueness of Henderson's ability kicks in -- she is also one of the top long jumpers in Division III. Henderson ended up finishing fifth at the state meet with her jump of 16-10. But she owns a personal best of 17-2.5, which is ranked 31st in the state regardless of division. Considering she's relatively new to the event, it makes the fifth place finish all that more impressive.

"i just tried it all of the sudden," Henderson said about her experience in the long jump. "It was an option -- why not, right?" 

All in all, Henderson contributed 30 points at this year's state meet. As a freshman.

She was a key contributor to Salpointe Catholic's dominant team win as the Lancers scored 124.50 points compared to the second-place finisher, Queen Creek at 79.50 points.

Then again, Henderson is used to scoring points. That's because alongside being one of the top 800m runners in Arizona, she is also one of the state's top basketball players.

This past winter, Henderson was instrumental in orchestrating the Lancers' 4A state title win over Flagstaff -- she recorded 14 points and 16 rebounds in the championship game. The Arizona Republic, a top newspaper in the state, named her to their honorable mention team in their 2022 All-Arizona girls high school basketball list.

While the outdoor season may be finished at the high school level in Arizona, Henderson is not done racing. She will be competing in both the 400m and 800m at The Nike Outdoor Nationals in Eugene, Oregon at Hayward Stadium.

"Ever since I was little in club [track] I wanted to run on University of Oregon's track, and now it's finally going to happen," Henderson said. "I'm extremely excited. I was happy with my state performance but not satisfied as much with my times, so I'm working as hard as I can these next few weeks to make sure I see my times improve and reach my goals."

You can watch Henderson discuss her state title in the 800m in a post-race interview right here: