There are a number of words someone could use to describe the skills of Fresno State’s sophomore track and field athlete Meagan McKee, but her throwing coach Lisa Misipeka needs only one.
“Beastly,” Misipeka said. “Pretty much after a few throws we figured out her nickname would be Megatron. She’s a very gifted young lady, very talented.”
At a meet in Sacramento, McKee brought everything together to set a new personal record in shot put that was just centimeters short of Olympic B standards.
With her father in the stands, McKee threw discus in the morning and hammer later in the day. The last event was shot put and after a first throw that she considered acceptable given her fatigue, McKee said the second throw felt different.
McKee grew around track and field most of her life because her father was a competitive thrower as well. Her first memories of track and field meets are from when he was still throwing competitively.
“I saw how much fun he was having and all the friends that he made,” McKee said. “Everywhere we would go someone knew him. There were a lot of connections. I thought it was fun.”
However, there was never any pressure to follow in his footsteps.
“He didn’t push me to do anything,” McKee said. “Really, I thought I was going to be a sprinter. I ran the 100 meters and I was pretty fast. I won county, I was one round away from state freshman year.”
McKee’s athleticism allowed her to play soccer, Pop Warner football and a year of junior varsity football in high school. But, her main focus was always on track and field as a thrower.
“My freshman year I made state,” McKee said. “I made state all four years of high school. I just kept qualifying for things that would further me in the throwing and I came here and I won WAC last year for the weight throw and my shot put has really improved this year along with my weight, hammer and discus.”
When she arrived at Fresno State her head coach, Scott Winsor, marveled at her grasp of the mental challenges of the sport.
“Meagan is truly a very rare student-athlete,” Winsor said. “She’s a very bright girl, very driven, passionate about what she does, knows how to get focused. She knows where she needs to be mentally and physically to compete at her best. If you’re at a meet, just stand off and watch her and it’s a very impressive thing to watch because you know she’s getting herself there mentally.”
McKee said that her calm exterior hides an inner intensity that she finds necessary to be successful.
“Outside of the track world I’m actually really calm,” McKee said. “But while in the meets you get pumped and get all crazy and if you have really good throw then everyone, the crowd, is with you.”
Her coach was surprised to hear that his talented thrower claimed to have two personalities to switch between.
“She must do a very good job of hiding that because what you see is a very calm person, whether she’s away from competition or in competition. That’s what you like. I don’t like cockiness, I love the inner confidence. She is the epitome of inner confidence. She doesn’t boast. She’s not in your face. She is one confident person.”