High School Sports

Trojans' Neely signs with USC Upstate

Northwestern's Kathryn Neely was beginning to think there might not be a scholarship with her name on it.

But USC Upstate took a liking to Neely, and she signed to run cross country and track for the Spartans Tuesday in the Trojans' coaches' office.

"I was wondering if I'd get a scholarship, if it would happen at all,'' said Neely, the daughter of Roger and Candace Neely. "The coach there, Jimmy Stevens, saw me at the state track qualifier. He e-mailed Frank Tice, one of our assistant coaches, and said he wanted me to come there.

"I feel I can step in and become a leader and contribute right away. I'll work on my own between now and when school starts so I'll be ready to go in ready to run when we start cross country practice. Cross country will help me get ready for the indoor track season.''

Neely has run cross country since the eighth grade. She started in track as a seventh-grader, but gave it up for a season to play soccer. But, she was back on the track her freshman year and became one of the Lady Trojans' top hurdlers.

She will run the 100 and 400 hurdles for USC Upstate and will likely run on the 1,600 relay team.

"When I went back out for track I wanted to do something other than distance races and started running the hurdles,'' Neely said. "I was relieved when the coaches said I could because I wanted to get away from the distance races.''

At Northwestern, she was part of one state track championship and was on a state runner-up cross country team.

Neely has had her share of running-related injuries during her high school career. She's had a stress fracture, a shoulder injury, sprained ankles and a strained back.

Because she has seen both sides of the business, Neely plans to major in physical therapy and is considering becoming an athletic trainer.

She is the second Neely to attend college in Spartanburg. Her older brother, Kyle, spent two years playing soccer for Spartanburg Methodist before transferring to Presbyterian. He will be a senior this year.

"Kathryn is one of the hardest workers we've had in a long while,'' said Calvin Hudgins, Northwestern's track and cross country coach. "She was literally the last person to leave practice every day. We are really excited for her.''