Cory McGee is a prodigy on fast track
Clarion Ledger - Four years ago, FBI special agent Jim McGee of Pass Christian went out for his daily four-mile run on the beach along Highway 90. Cory McGee, his nine-year-old daughter, asked if she could come along.
Jim said, "Sure thing," and took off jogging. Cory went with him. After a mile, Jim asked Cory if she needed to rest. She shook her head. They ran another mile, same thing. Three miles, same thing. Four miles, they were back home.
"That was fun," Cory McGee said.
She has been running ever since. Fast.
Her goal is to win gold in the Olympics. She just might.
Cory McGee, with her brown hair in a pony tail and smiling through braces, was on the gold medal stand three times Friday at the state high school track meet at Pearl High School. She broke her own state Class 4A record in the 1,600-meter run. Not bad for a 13-year-old who won't actually start high school until August.
And this was small potatoes for Cory McGee, who stunned U.S. track and field experts by winning the national high school school indoor mile championship two months ago in New York, running the distance in 4 minutes, 49 seconds. Think about it: She won the national high school championship, and she's not even in high school yet.
Without question, young Cory was genetically predisposed for athletic success. Jim, her father, was a halfback at Florida under Doug Dickey back in the mid-1970s. Her mother, Shawna McGee, was a sprinter and long jumper in high school and junior college in California. Jim and Shawna met 20 years ago at a health club where he was training as a powerlifter and she was teaching aerobics.
"Cory has a lot of natural talent, but she works so hard at it," Shawna McGee said. "She is very mature for age, very dedicated and very, very competitive. She really does not want to lose."
Cory McGee looks like your basic, pretty 13-year-old - 5 feet, 5 inches and 104 pounds - until the starter's gun goes off. And that's when you know she's different. She runs in long, bouncy strides and she runs away from everyone else. She started lapping the competition in the seventh lap of the 3,200-meter run Friday. She crossed the finish line in the 1,600-meter run when the closest runners to her were still making the final turn.
She ran the 1,600 meters in a meet record 5 minutes, 21 seconds. That was utterly without competition.
And here's the kicker: She was conserving energy in both those events because she still had two more events to run and she has been sick for the past two weeks with bronchitis and strep throat. On Tuesday, her pediatrician told her she wouldn't be able to run in the state meet.
"I got pretty hysterical there for a while," she said.
On Wednesday, the doctor relented.
To say Cory McGee's eighth grade year has been eventful would be akin to saying she's a little bit talented.
Her school year began with Hurricane Katrina, which left a slab where Pass Christian Middle School once was. The storm blew away her grandmother's home on Highway 90. It ruined many of her friends' houses, too, and damaged the house where she lives with her mom, dad and three sisters. Still, she won the state high school cross country championship last fall as a one-person team.
"She kept right on training," Shawna McGee said. "What was neat was that because it wasn't safe for her to be running the streets alone, her friends would go with her. They'd ride bikes, she'd run."
She does much of her track training in Hattiesburg partly because the track at Pass Christian was all but destroyed but mostly because her coach, Yousri Elmejdoubi, a native of Morroco, lives and trains there. That's hardly the only sacrifice. Cory has had to give up soccer - a sport she dearly loves - because of all the travel and time consumed by her budding running career.
A busy summer lies ahead. Cory hopes to train this summer at high altitude in Colorado. She will compete in the national junior championship at Indianapolis in June. Depending on her finish there, international competition will follow. She'll begin high school in August.
Yes, and later this month, she turns 14.
Sun Herald - Cory McGee was in a panic just days before the MHSSA Class 4A State Track meet. She wasn't obsessing over breaking the state records in the 3,200-, 1,600- and 800-meter runs.
She wasn't even sure she could compete in the state meet on Friday afternoon.
"My throat was so bad Wednesday that I had to go to the (emergency room) because our doctor was closed," the Pass Christian distance runner said. "They told me I couldn't run in the state meet. I was hysterical!"
The running phenom was fighting the last stages of mononucleosis, which she didn't know she had. McGee continued to train despite feeling ill.
"She's got that determination," said her father, Jim McGee.
That determination pushed her to ease her way to three state crowns Friday afternoon at Pearl High School, including breaking the Class 4A 1,600-meter record with a time of 5:20.82. She beat the record by exactly two seconds. It was a record she already had her name next to, as she had broken it at the 2005 meet.
The eighth-grader took control of the 3,200- and 800-meters from the get-go to stand atop the podium, but she said her goal was to crush all the state records. Although by glancing at her qualifying times it wouldn't appear as the favorite, the rest of the field and the onlookers knew McGee had the events in the bag.
One parent told his child before the 800 meters to not even worry about McGee, but to focus on the rest of the field. That's the respect she has already earned at the age of 13.
"I wanted to break the records, but I knew I wasn't going to today," McGee said. "But I have four more years to do it."
Her doctors have told her that she needs to hold off on her training for a few weeks so her body can recuperate from mono. It's something she doesn't think she's ready for.
"It's been such a big part of my life," she said. "The time off is not by my choice."
Last year, she won the 3,200- and 1,600-meter races. Her father said that adding the 800 meters to her forte can only help her in her future national and international competitions.
Logan Waites wins 3200 meter run
|Logan Waites of Presbyterian Christian School competes in the Class AAA 3200 meter run. She won the event for a gold medal. Track athletes gathered at Robinson-Hale Stadium on the Mississippi College campus in Clinton to participate in the MPSA track and field championships Saturday. |