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Westover star runner Taylor inks with Academy of Art

Westover’s Ericka Taylor, third from left, signs a cross country scholarship with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco on Friday. She is joined by, from left, her sister, Kyndall Butler; her father, Eric Taylor; and her mother, Pamela Butler.

Westover’s Ericka Taylor, third from left, signs a cross country scholarship with the Academy of Art University in San Francisco on Friday. She is joined by, from left, her sister, Kyndall Butler; her father, Eric Taylor; and her mother, Pamela Butler.

ALBANY — When Ericka Taylor arrived at Westover High School four years ago she already had the nickname “Doughnut’’ for her affection for the pastry.

“She got that name at Merry Acres Middle School,’’ Westover Athletic Director Harley Calhoun said. “That’s what we called her, but now after everything she has done at Westover, I call her, ‘The Doughnut.’ ”

Calhoun called Taylor something else on Friday afternoon.

“She is the best distance runner to ever come through Westover High School, ever,’’ Calhoun said. “The best. She is the best we have ever had, and we’ve had some good ones. I call her my child, but all the coaches who have been with her here at Westover feel the same way. She’s our child.’’

Don’t blame Calhoun for getting a little emotional on Friday. He was there amid a large crowd of Taylor’s friends, teammates and family members who showed up at the Westover media center to watch Taylor sign a letter-of-intent to accept a cross country scholarship to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.

“I’m going to school there to become an actress,’’ said Taylor, who had more than a dozen offers from schools, including Georgia Southern and Columbus State. “When I went there on a visit I loved it there. I loved everything, the school, the campus, everyone there, the city, the food — everything.’’

She will compete in cross country and in the distance races for the track & field team, which compete in Division II. Taylor believes the best is yet to come.

“I really believe I will get better in college,’’ she said.

She has soared at Westover, where she won every region title in cross country for four years and won every region title in the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter runs for four years. Taylor won the Class AAAA state title in cross country two years ago and holds the school record in cross country (18:59 for 5,0000 meters) and in the 1,600-meter run in track (5:18). She finished second in the state meet in the 1,600 in 2011 and was fourth in the state in 2012. She finished sixth in the state meet in the 1,600 as a freshman in 2009. She finished third in the state 3,200 meter run in 2012 and was sixth in the 3,200 as a freshman.

Taylor battled through a number of injuries but is in great health as she heads for her final state meet next month.

“She has won 12 region titles, and she won a state title in cross country in 2010,’’ Calhoun said. “She has never lost a region race in her whole career here. She had a great career, but as great as she has been on the track, she is even a better person. She is such a hard worker and a great person. She just makes you happy. The way she works makes everyone else work that much harder.

“She competes so hard,’’ he added. “She’s such a great competitor. She will go after people and she will get them, and give everybody confidence who is around her. Everybody knows Doughnut is going to go out and compete. Doughnut is so sweet, but once she is in a race she is so competitive.’’

Everyone who knows Taylor feels she will go after her acting career the same way — all out.

“I really want to be an actress,’’ said Taylor, who has a 3.3 GPA. “I want to be in movies and TV.’’

Her mother, Pamela Butler, who was on hand for the signing, said she believes her daughter.

“She can be quite the character,’’ she said. “It will be her alter ego that does the acting, but she can do it.’’