Photo: Ashville High School senior Meghan McCarthy recently signed a letter of intent to run cross country at the University of North Alabama in Florence. Pictured, sitting from left: Meghan’s sister Kathleen, Meghan, Meghan’s mom Kristi. Standing, from left: Meghan’s dad Chris, AHS cross country coach Michele Rogers, AHS athletic director Shea Monroe. (Courtesy of Becky Staples Photography)
By Chris McCarthy Publisher/Editor
Meghan McCarthy’s off-road mileage will substantially increase this fall.
The Ashville High School senior signed a letter of intent to run cross country at the University of North Alabama in Florence.
As a six-year starter in cross country, McCarthy qualified for the state cross country meet every season and helped the Lady Bulldogs win the section titles in 2018, 2019 and 2020. She finished 11th overall at the 2019 AHSAA state cross country meet, helping the Lady Bulldogs finish third overall in Class 4A. She twice won the St. Clair County cross country meet championship.
“It’s a really great feeling,” said McCarthy, who plans on majoring in education. “It’s always been one of my dreams to run in college, and I’ll have the opportunity to run in a really competitive field. The [UNA] campus is absolutely beautiful, and I really like their [cross country trail] next to the [Tennessee] river.”
McCarthy was also impressed of the way that UNA cross country coach Jeremy Provence kept in touch with her during the recruiting process.
“He called me a few times over the summer and told me what a good group of girls I would be joining and that I’d be a great fit. He said he’s focused on building character and having good people on the team.”
In outdoor track, McCarthy qualified for the state meet all five varsity years. She and her teammates on the 4×800-meter relay team finished in fourth place at the 2019 state meet and first among public schools.
“I didn’t even know what I was doing when I started out in the seventh grade, and we would always look at the bigger schools winning everything and wish we could do it,” she said. “In eighth grade, I decided to run as hard as I could in every practice every single day. We got second place at sectionals and I PR’d at state. Coach [Michele] Rogers took over when I was a freshman, and we improved every year. It shows how good Coach Rogers is and how great this group of girls is. We’re all really good friends on and off the course, and I think that has a lot to do with our success.”
McCarthy was a three-year varsity starter in basketball and a two-year starter in soccer. She played varsity volleyball as a sophomore and junior before deciding to focus on long distance running this fall. In November, she was announced as the female winner for the 2020 Alabama Wendy’s Heisman High School Scholarship, which is award to two students from each of the 50 states. She is an Advanced Placement student who maintains a 4.3 grade point average and scored a 30 on her ACT composite exam.
“I’m very excited for Meghan to continue her running ca-reer at UNA, and I think she’ll be a real asset to their program,” said Rogers. “It’s been a true honor to be Meghan’s coach these last four years and see her succeed in athletics and academics,” said Rogers. “I’ve watched her grow and learn how to overcome obstacles. She’s never let those obstacles deter her from getting her accomplishment today. I’ve lost count of how many individual medals Meghan has won and how many team trophies she’s helped us win, but the most important thing that I’ll remember is the example Meghan set for her teammates. She’s leaving us some big shoes to fill, and we’re really going to miss her next year.”
One of McCarthy’s future teammates at UNA will be one of her current high school rivals. Springville’s Beth Ann Tucker signed with the Lions in December.
“Ashville and Springville don’t really like one another in sports, but Beth Ann is a really sweet girl, and I’ll know someone when I get there.”