Clint McKelvey made Maryville High School history two years ago when he became the first Rebel to win a state track and field championship in a running event. He’s stepped it up a notch since he got to college.
The Duke University freshman secured a spot on the U.S. junior national team when he raced to 10th at the USA Track and Field Junior Cross Country Championships in San Diego on Feb. 5.
McKelvey covered the 8K course in 25 minutes, 28 seconds in a field of 84 runners. The placing earned the 2009 state champion at 3200 meters a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships on Feb. 19 in Trinidad and Tobago.
Erik Olson of Novato, Calif., won the San Diego race in 24:48, with only the top 10 finishers securing national team selection.
McKelvey, a high school All-American at Maryville, said he was initially disappointed at not finishing higher at the junior nationals. Then the race kit for the national team arrived.
“I tried it on,” he said. “When a whole box of stuff got here, it was like Christmas.”
The USATF meet doesn’t come at the best time for collegiate runners who also excel on the track. With college cross country finishing in the November, McKelvey and Duke teammate Brian Atkinson, 15th at the junior nationals, were already focused on the indoor track and field season.
“To be able to do that well off what we’d been doing is fine,” McKelvey said.
After the juniors race, the 2008 state cross country runner up said he got a chance to size up the field in the 12K professional event later in the day. There’s still a lot of work to be done to reach that level, McKelvey said.
“Guys that are winning the 12K race are running faster than I am at 8K,” he said.
Brent Vaughn of Black Hawk, Colo., won the professional race in 35:46, averaging 4:46 per kilometer.