GASTON — KIPP’s Alainah Taylor and Adam Pope ended their careers together earlier this month in Greensboro. It is almost fitting the duo will begin the next stage of their athletic careers together in the fall.

Taylor and Pope will run track at Barton College in Wilson next season, having put their names on the dotted lines of National Letters of Intent Tuesday in Gaston. Pope will pull double duty, running cross country in the fall and outdoor track in the spring.

Both athletes will participate in indoor and outdoor track.

The duo were household names in the Roanoke Valley, making multiple appearances at the NCHSAA 1A track and field finals. At the conclusion of 2013’s regular season, Taylor and Pope were selected as the female and male TRAC runners of the year.

Pope’s specialty is long distance races. He advanced to the finals in the 800 and 1600 his senior season.

Taylor is a sprinter, participating in the 100 this past season.

KIPP track coach Andy Williams could not think of two better ambassadors for the school.

“I am most excited these two have set examples on our campus,” Williams said. “They have pushed themselves to the highest level that they can in this area. What I am excited about is in college is the resources they will have and the competition. As coaches, we can push them to this level, but now they have a whole new set of opportunities in front of them.”

Taylor and Pope agreed Barton was a perfect fit because it was close to home, but overall they were thrilled to be a part of a college team.

“It was one of my goals since I started track,” Pope said. “Any sport you play you want to go to the next level. I felt really excited when I found out I had the opportunity to run in college.”

Pope is coming off consecutive trips to Greensboro for the state finals. Taylor has three trips to the 1A finals under her belt, including a seventh place finish in her final high school race May 10.

“Starting off in the middle and high school level, you are always pushed to do better,” Taylor said.

“But when you have the opportunity to go to the next big thing ... it is like a break through, like all of the hard work is finally paying off.”

After being two of the top runners in the area for a majority of their careers, both athletes realize they have to make a name for themselves on the collegiate level.

“Stepping into a different level of competition allows you to think, ‘You are good enough to be here and prove yourself, but don’t under estimate anyone,’” Taylor said. “It is going to push me, but also keep me grounded.”

Pulling double duty should be a challenge for Pope, but he has passion for both sports and could not turn down an opportunity to run in the fall and spring.

“Basically I love cross country,” Pope said.

“I knew I was a distance runner and wanted to stay in shape the entire year, so cross country is a way to stay in shape and keep running, and getting my time down for indoor and outdoor track.”

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