When Katie McGregor was running track and cross country at South High School, the Internet did not exist.
She could not check her times against other top runners in the state or even the country.
She simply had to rely on her own ability and the guidance from her coaches.
The method worked just fine for the 2013 News-Herald High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee.
She was an instant sensation on the track and cross country scene. After finishing seventh at state in cross country as a freshman, she won the Division I 3,200-meter track championship.
She qualified for the state cross country and track meets every year of her high school career.
As a sophomore, she finished fifth at the state cross country meet. She qualified for the 1,600, 3,200 and with the 4×800 in track.
The following year, she was fourth at the state cross country meet and again qualified for the state track meet in her three speciality events.
In 1995, the year she graduated, she was third in cross country and first in the 3,200.
For more than 20 years, she has held the area records in the 1,600 (4:56.32) and 3,200 (10:49.74).
“Katie is a great competitor,” said Earl Goglin, McGregor’s high school cross country coach. “She wouldn’t settle for anything other than first. She gave it all she had all the time. She would die before she would let someone beat her. She worked really hard.
“She did every workout to the best of her ability year after year with no complaining. She never said, ‘This is tough.’ She was a very, very coachable young lady.”
McGregor is one of 10 girls track and field athletes in The News-Herald coverage area since 1991 to qualify for state four straight years in the same event. McGregor qualified in the 1,600 and 3,200 each year from 1992 to 1995.
That’s why it was no surprise she had her pick of the top Division I programs in the country after high school.
She chose Michigan, that school from up north, and still considers the years some of the best in her life.
“I loved being there,” she said. “I loved the atmosphere, I loved that everyone believed in one another and I loved the tradition of every sport at Michigan. It was really fun to be part of that tradition.”
As a Wolverine, McGregor was a three-time NCAA champion and a nine-time All American in cross country and track. She was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in cross country in 1995, and the Big Ten Athlete of the Year in cross country in 1997 and 1998.
After graduating from Michigan in 1999 with a degree in English, McGregor started running professionally for adidas. She has been with Reebok since 2005.
Her professional career highlights include competing in five Olympic trials since 2000.
Despite her efforts, McGregor has yet to make the U.S. Olympic team.
In 2004 and 2008, she finished fourth in the 10,000. The top three competitors made the team. She was 13th in the 10,000 in 2000. Last year, she was 18th in the 10,000 and 11th in her first U.S. Olympic marathon trials.
When asked if she will attempt to make the 2016 team, McGregor, 35, said she will target the marathon trials. She is undecided on the 10,000.
“I don’t know if I’ll do it for fun or competitively,” she said. “I definitely have it as a goal, but at this point, I’m not sure how competitive I will be. I am just going to take it one year at a time.
“In the past, it was heartbreaking for me to talk about the Olympic trials, but now I just look back at how long my career has been and that it has been a blessing. Now as I get older, I am focusing on other distances. I’ve had good things happen, and it’s hard to recognize those things until you step away and realize the end is near.”
She currently averages 100 miles a week and is competing on the USA running circuit for USATF.
Her next race is the USA Half Marathon Championships in Duluth, Minn., on June 22.
On July 4, she is competing in the USA Women’s 10K Championship in Atlanta, Ga.
When she isn’t training, McGregor works as a private running coach.
“I have friends who have had a major injury or who have started families in their 30s,” McGregor said. “I’ve had no injuries and I don’t have a family. Sometimes, it’s just when do you do it (retire)? You don’t really know. There will never be a point where I stop running. There will just be a certain point where I’m not competitive anymore. There will be a time when you just have to focus on making other things a priority.”
For now, McGregor is taking her training week by week. Two years ago, she left Team USA Minnesota and is currently on her own and living in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.
“It’s really important for me to look back and see how consistent I’ve been over the years,” she said. “Right now, I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to as a professional. I want to become an Olympian. Even though I haven’t accomplished that goal, I am proud I have been able to accomplish great things on every level.”
- Who: 2013 News-Herald High School Sports Hall of Fame inductee
- Sport: Track and Field
- High school: South
- Where are they now?: McGregor, 35, competes on the USA running circuit for USATF. She averages 100 miles a week. She is also a private running coach.
- High school highlights: The 1995 South graduate went to state in cross country and track all four years of her high school career. … In cross country, she finished seventh as a freshman, fifth as a sophomore, fourth as a junior and third as a senior. … As a freshman in track, she won the 3,200 state championship, and as a senior she won the 1,600. … Since 1991, she is one of 10 area girls track athletes who have qualified for state in two events in her four years at South.
By Theresa Neuhoff Audia | TAudia@News-Herald.com | @AudiaNHSports