WILLIAMSTOWN-When Kathleen Cornell stepped onto the all-weather track at the University of Charleston's Laidley Field for the 4 by 400 meter dash during the W.Va. State High School Track and Field Championships, the Yellowjacket senior knew it would not be her final lap at the site where the maroon and gold had just captured back-to-back-to-back Class A titles.
That's because the three-sport standout for the Yellowjackets had already elected to throw her lot in with the Golden Eagles of head coach John Blankenship.
"It's exciting knowing that I am going to run at a place that holds so many wonderful memories for me," said Cornell. "I've had success running there so that will make it more comfortable for me when the season begins."
Cornell, who also competed on the cross country and basketball teams at Williamstown, competed in the 400 meter dash, 4 by 400 meter relay, 4 by 800 meter relay and shuttle hurdle relay at the state meet.
On day one of the two-day event, Cornell and her teammates finished second to Charleston Catholic in the 4 by 800 with a time of 10 minutes, 6.71 seconds, but were disqualified in the shuttles, an event which the maroon and gold had won each of her three previous years and set a state record in 2012, while day two witnessed a seventh place effort in the 400.
The day ended on a good note, however, as the Yellowjacket senior was the lead runner in Williamstown's third place 4 by 400 unit.
"It wasn't exactly the way I wanted my high school career to end, but we won the state title again and that made up for everything else," Cornell said.
A four-year member of the cross country and basketball team, where she was a starter as a junior and senior, Cornell considered joining her older brother, Mikey, a senior-to-be at Ohio Valley University as well as taking her talents to Glenville State University. But when it came time to make a decision, the elementary education major elected to become a member of the Golden Eagles.
"There were several reasons," the runner explained. "I wanted to go into elementary education and their professors met with me and showed me what they could do and I was really impressed with that.
"Then, I really liked coach Blankenship and the program and I was excited about calling Laidley Field my home for the next four years. And finally, I will only be an hour or so away from home so it's close enough that I can go home when I want, but also be far enough away from home so that I get the full college experience.
"And the money they gave me was good."
A versatile athlete during her time in the maroon and gold, Cornell will be asked to team up with junior-to-be Emily Bokanovich to give the Golden Eagles a solid one-two punch in the heptathlon. Bokanovich placed seventh overall at the WVIAC championships, scoring the second most points all time (3,541) for a Golden Eagle.
"I'm looking forward to the challenge," Cornell said. "I've run both sprints and distance at Williamstown and I've high jumped and long jumped. Coach (Zach) Hall had already told me that he would help me get ready for the throwing events, so I think I will be ready to compete."
The heptathlon is made up of seven events-200 meter dash, 100 meter hurdles, 800 meter run, high jump, long jump, javelin throw and shot put.
Cornell is the youngest of two children of Mike and Holly Cornell.