Clint McKelvey made Maryville High School history last spring.
The first Rebel secure a state crown in a running event in track and field, McKelvey was poised to add the school’s first-ever cross country title last fall when a stress fracture in his foot cut short his season.
McKelvey, who signed a National Letter of Intent last week to run cross country at Duke next season, quickly shifted his focus without missing a beat.
“It was hard to take at first because he’d worked so many months to get to that goal,” Maryville coach Tim Carnes said. “He just very quickly made the best of it and focused on this studies.
“Clint did a great job of finding other things to focus on in his down time from running. It’s a testament to Clint that running is not all that he does.”
That should come in handy in Durham, N.C., although academic excellence has never been a problem for the Maryville distance dynamo.
McKelvey had become one of the nation’s elite runners by last fall, qualifying for the prestigious Footlocker national meet in San Diego, where he finished 29th of 40 runners. By the spring track season, the tall, broad-chested burner was all but untouchable, winning the 3200-meter run at the state meet to become the first male track and field athlete at Maryville to secure a state championship in a running event.
A first-ever cross country crown for Maryville was well within McKelvey’s sights come fall. He’d been runner-up the year before, and, with former West speedster Matt Sonnenfeldt, the previous year’s champion, gone off to college, McKelvey was a heavy favorite.
“He was looking to go back and make it right,” Carnes said.
The disappointment of the injury has McKelvey focused like never before for his final season on the track, Carnes said. This spring, the Rebel record-holder would like nothing better than to take out both the mile and 2-mile at state.
“He really wants to come out in May at the state meet and do well,” Carnes said. “He’s never satisfied that, ‘I’ve arrived.’ He wants to double in that pretty bad, and he’s going to give it a go.”
Knoxville Track Club youth athletics director Marty Sonnenfeldt, Matt’s father, has known McKelvey years, the latter having honed his skills with the KTC. McKelvey and Matt Sonnenfeldt became friends more than rivals as a consequence.
“They understand the work, the solitary work, that goes into being good at an individual sport,” said Marty Sonnenfeldt, who was on hand last week to watch McKelvey sign with the Blue Devils. “If somebody beats them, they just had a bad day. They wanted to run each other into the ground. Two steps after the finish line, it’s over.
“They all go through it alone at some point. They brought the best out of each other. As a result, they gained a great friendship.”