As a freshman, Northwest High School’s Kellee McCann splashed on to the state’s biggest stage finishing fifth in the 800 at the University Interscholastic League’s Track and Field Championships.
“That seems like a lifetime ago,” recalls McCann, now a senior. “It was so different being the little freshman and saying let’s go do this.”
Three years later, McCann is beginning her final spring at Northwest and hoping to get a third shot at a state medal. She narrowly missed out on making the medal stand last year, finishing fourth in the 3,200.
“That was tough. You look back on the entire season and just miss it,” McCann explained. “But it drove me to come back for the cross country season, which was good. I won a state medal and qualified for nationals.”
McCann garnered a seventh-place finish in the 5K at the state meet, running a 18:28. It was her best finish in three trips to state for cross country.
“I’ve experienced success and disappointments,” McCann said. “That’s this sport. There are ups and downs. You’re not always gong to be successful.”
Her coach, George Lutkenhaus, said McCann’s career started with a pair of trips to state as a freshman in track and cross country. Her sophomore year, an illness the week of district kept her from advancing in track. She then rebounded to make it to state her junior year on the track.
“She’s had her ups and downs and that’s going to help her moving forward,” Lutkenhaus said. “In college, it’s not always going to go your way. She’s learned to be resilient.”
Her hard work and resiliency was rewarded earlier this month as she signed a letter of intent to run cross country and track at Syracuse.
“I took a visit there in October and fell in love with it,” she said. “I liked talking to the coaches and the girls there.”
With her future set, McCann is focused on finishing her career on the right foot. She admits she is starting the season slowly after taking some time off when cross country wrapped up.
“I’m getting back to running now. I’m not where I want to be yet. It’s a long season. We’re looking at May,” she said.
Lutkenhaus said McCann may not run at some of the team’s first few meets.
“She won’t race a lot early,” he said. “That may be to her benefit. It’s been a long year for her already. I know she wants to go out on top.”
That means collecting the hardware that has stayed out of reach at state in two previous trips.
“This time I want to contend for a title,” she said.
But it’s not her only goal as her high school career reaches the finish line.
“I’d like to finish up having fun this one last time around,” she said.
Bobcat Relays … Feb. 20 … Trophy Club
Eagle Relays … Feb. 27 … Decatur
Paradise Invitational … Feb. 27 … Paradise
Northwest Texan Invitational … March 1 … Justin
Alvord Invitational … March 6 … Alvord
Wise County Spring Break … March 15 … Decatur
Double B Relays … March 20 … Bridgeport
Boyd Invitational … March 27 … Boyd
Fit-N-Wise Invitational … March 27 … Decatur
Northwest/Byron Nelson Dual … April 1 … Justin
District 9-3A Championships … April 9-10 … Sanger
District 4-5A Championships … April 9-10 … Justin
District 9-2A Championships … April 10-11 … Boyd
District 11-A Championships … April 10 … Santo
Area 21/22-A II … April 14
Area 11/12 A … April 15 … Hico
Area 9/10-2A … April 16 … Boyd
Area 9/10-3A … April 17 … Argyle
Area 3/4-5A … April 17-18 … Coppell
3A Region II … April 25-26 … Commerce
5A Region I … April 25-26 … Lubbock
2A Region II … April 25-26 … Stephenville
A Region II … April 25-26 … Abilene
A Division II Region III … April 25-26 … Bullard
UIL Championships … May 9-10 … Austin
RETURNING STATE QUALIFIERS
Taylor Clayton, Decatur, senior
Note: The distance expert took fifth in the 3,200 and sixth in the 1,600 last year at the state meet. But after winning the 3A cross country title in the fall, he should be primed to make a run for gold.
Desiree Freier, Northwest, senior
Note: The pole vaulter captured her second 5A title and set the state record clearing 13-9 on the big stage.
Haley Dennard, Decatur, senior
Note: In her debut at state last year, Dennard ran 2:22.87 to finish seventh.
Zack Kirkland, Northwest, senior
Note: The senior won the Region I 800 last year and finished seventh at the state meet in 1:55.
Kellee McCann, Northwest, senior
Note: After making it to state as a freshman in the 800, McCann returned last year as a junior in the 3,200 and finished fourth in 10:50. She medaled at the state cross country meet in the fall.
Nicole Neighbors, Decatur, junior
Note: Neighbors clocked a personal-best in the 300 hurdles taking fourth in 45.23 at state. She was seventh in the 100 hurdles at state in 15.77.
Brandon Rivera, Decatur, senior
Note: Rivera made a strong charge at the finish last spring in the 800 to take fourth in 2:00.54.
Savannah Williams, Alvord, junior
Note: Williams splashed on the scene last year, taking the silver medal at state in 2:21.43.