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Athlete of the Month: Kate McKee

Athlete of the Month: Kate McKee

By Ken Severson

Excelling in athletics is never easy. Sometimes it takes years for an athlete to just to be very good.

And sometimes it takes months.

Kate McKee is proof of that.

McKee, a junior at Perry Meridian High School, took fifth place in the 155-pound weight class at the Indiana High School Girls Wrestling championships held on Jan. 12 at Kokomo High School.

This after only taking up the sport three months.

“I’m very competitive, but I was as surprised as anyone,” McKee said.

McKee really shouldn’t be surprised given her track record.

Last season, McKee also qualified for state in the pole vault at the Indiana High School Athletic Association Girls Track & Field State Tournament.

She didn’t place, but again, it was a new sport for her, and she still has two more years to try.

Prior to all this, McKee was a competitive gymnast for 13 years, that is until an injury curtailed her chances of advancing further.

“Kate’s had a great year,” McKee’s mother Jennifer McKee said. “We’ve really enjoyed it.”

“I had a forced retirement due to injuries,” McKee said. “I was at a Level 9 in gymnastics and did all four disciplines, the balance beam, floor exercises, vault and uneven bars.

When the injuries forced her out of gymnastics in 2022, it prevented McKee from advancing to Level 10, the ultimate level.

“Gymnastics taught me discipline,” McKee said. “I made it to nationals, and I felt after this, I could conquer any sport.”

Track filled a void after gymnastics, but something else seemed missing. McKee spent her time in the weight room when Perry Meridian wrestling coaches noticed her pulling and pushing weights with the best of them.

“(Kate) started during preseason (October) and really was a natural,” Perry Meridian wrestling coach Matt Shoettle said. “She is athletic, strong, smart and she works very hard. Coach Chris Payton also helps in the weight room in the girls’ strength class. He noticed her work ethic and athletic ability and really recruited her.”

McKee thought that after gymnastics, track, specifically the pole vault, was her sport but some friendly persuasion from the coaches and a friend told her otherwise.

“My teammate Bella Osterhoudt convinced me, and everyone kept telling me how good I would be,” McKee said. “She said it’s not anything crazy and if I didn’t like it, I could leave, but I loved it and it’s like the perfect sport for me after a few practices.”

It was a swift and successful transition for McKee and the Falcons. McKee finished her first season with a remarkable 28-9 record in a sport that not only requires strength, endurance and discipline, but especially the last one when it comes to making weight.

McKee began her wrestling career at 170 pounds, but she was wrestling nearly 10 pounds lighter, and it was suggested she cut weight further to 155.

“My coaches felt I would have a better chance of success at 155,” McKee said. “I was down for that, but it wasn’t easy.”

McKee’s discipline took over and she made the weight.
“I’m not going to go to a tournament and sit around for 12 hours and not do anything,” she said.

With the season over, McKee now turns her attention to the pole vault and she’s already practicing and thinking about the upcoming season. McKee’s personal best is 10 feet, 9 inches and she has a goal of not only making the state tournament again, but to score points for her team with a placing.

“I’m hoping to place,” McKee said. “I don’t care what l place it is; I just want to place.”

McKee will also continue wrestling her senior year along with track.

“They are very different sports. It’s a shock that I’m pretty good at both,” McKee said.

McKee is also pretty good in the classroom, maintaining a 4.3 grade point average out of 5.


NAME: Kate McKee

HEIGHT: 5-foot-1

SCHOOL: Perry Meridian

HOBBIES: Usually I’m busy with my sports, but other than that I like hanging out with friends and lifting/going to the gym.

COLLEGE PLANS: I would like to attend college for nursing or something in the health field; as to where I’m not sure yet.

FAVORITE SUBJECT(S): Anatomy/science and history


FAVORITE VACATION SPOT: Myrtle Beach, S.C., or Orange Beach, Ala.

PARENTS’ NAMES: Jennifer and Brian McKee

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