Santa Rosa track star Coco McKamey sets sights on college at Cal Poly Humboldt

The Panthers senior conquered every challenge high school threw her way.|

Coco McKamey conquered every challenge high school threw her way.

Over her three-plus years at Santa Rosa High, she became a multi-event master for the Panthers’ track and field team, starring in jumps, hurdles and sprints.

Academically, she completed all of her high school credits by the end of her junior year.

“Going into my senior year, I actually didn’t need to take any more classes,” McKamey said Thursday, a few hours before officially signing to attend Cal Poly Humboldt.

Thursday’s signing ceremony was McKamey’s last hurrah at Santa Rosa, an apt send-off for a 4.3-GPA student and decorated athlete whose name is littered throughout the school’s track and field record books. Ready to take on life’s next challenges, she’s graduating from high school early and will soon head up north to begin her academic and athletic college careers.

“I’m personally bummed but so happy for her,” Santa Rosa track and field head coach Carrie Joseph said. “It’s a great opportunity for her and what she wants to do. She’s ready to go.”

For as impressive as she is academically, enough can’t be said about McKamey’s athletic talents.

After her first two seasons of track and field were heavily disrupted by the pandemic and an ankle injury, she came into her own during her junior year last spring. Originally a hurdler and high jumper, she expanded her repertoire to include the 4x100- and 4x400-meter relays as well as the long jump and triple jump. She excelled in every event.

According to records kept by Redwoodempirerunning.com, McKamey had the region’s best marks in the 100 hurdles, high jump, long jump and triple jump for the 2022 prep season. She was also a member of Santa Rosa’s 4x400 relay team that had the area’s best time by nearly six seconds and, as an individual during the summer club circuit, ran top-10 times in the 100 and 200 for the season.

“I knew she had tons of potential, just hadn’t gotten a chance to shine yet,” Joseph said. “She took every advantage last season. She’s like the highest-end Swiss Army Knife a coach could dream of.”

Her 2022 season also landed her near the top of several top-10 school record lists. At Santa Rosa, she’s No. 2 all-time in the triple jump, No. 3 in the long jump and 100 hurdles and No. 4 in the high jump. In Redwood Empire history, she also owns top-10 marks in the long jump, triple jump, 100 hurdles and the heptathlon.

“She is one of the most talented athletes to compete for Santa Rosa High School in any sport, to be honest,” Joseph said. “We’re going to miss her terribly this spring because of that, but more importantly we’re going to miss her as a person. She’s an awesome human being.”

McKamey said she chose Cal Poly Humboldt, formerly Humboldt State, because of the close proximity to home and because of her fit within its track and field program. She wants to compete in the heptathlon and decathlon in college, an area in which Humboldt’s coaching staff has an abundance of experience.

“I just thought it felt really natural and a really good fit because this is what I want to do, and the fact that the program just caters towards that, it felt perfect,” McKamey said.

Academically, she’s planning on majoring in psychology and may add a second major in chemistry or math to get a head start on pre-med requisites. Graduating early and starting a Master’s program may also be in her future, big challenges that she’s eager to conquer.

“Academics is something I’ve always liked,” she said. “That’s why I’ve always felt like I want to keep getting ahead and challenging myself.”

Joseph recognized that same drive in track and field. The events that McKamey gravitated toward are some of the most mentally and physically taxing in the sport. But that’s just who McKamey is, her coach said.

“I think it reveals a lot about Coco herself, that she excels at really mentally difficult and physically, technically difficult events, specifically,” Joseph said. “She’s one of a kind for sure.”

You can reach Staff Writer Gus Morris at 707-304-9372 or gus.morris@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @JustGusPD.

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