McGee overcomes freak injury


Florida's Cory McGee had a standout cross country season with a runner-up finish at regionals.

Matt Stamey/Staff photographer/FILE
Published: Friday, November 29, 2013 at 8:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, November 29, 2013 at 8:51 p.m.

In the world of sports, you sometimes hear about freak injuries.

What happened to current Florida senior Cory McGee, however, goes beyond freaky to just plain bizarre.

McGee, who was attempting to make the U.S. Olympic Team in July of 2012, had finished competing at the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., and went out with some friends and family to wind down at a local eating establishment.

“My season was over and I stayed to watch the finals,” McGee said. “I was on a wooden deck at a restaurant just off of the University of Oregon campus. My mom was with me, and I was just standing there when the next thing you know, someone on the other side of the deck made a toast and cheered glasses, and one of them dropped their's. It just so happened to break in half.

“The bottom piece hit the deck, shot a good six or seven feet and happened to hit my ankle.”

McGee, from Pass Christian, Miss., noted she initially did not think much of the accident.

“I had pants on and had them cuffed at the bottom, and I had sandals on that went around my ankle and just happened to leave like one inch of my ankle exposed, which is still like the freakiest thing ever,” she said. “It didn't hurt, so I went straight to the bathroom and looked at it, and was like 'Well, that's kind of weird' because it was pretty gruesome looking and made a really big gash in my ankle.”

McGee headed to a nearby hospital emergency room and had five stitches to close the wound, but her ordeal was far from over.

There was fear that the glass had severed a tendon, which could have put her career in jeopardy.

“It was terrible,” she said. “The doctor didn't seem to really know what he was doing and was digging around in my ankle. My mom was like 'Just stop, just stop, just stitch it up.'

“So we came back to Gainesville, but it was Fourth of July weekend and the surgeon I was supposed to see was out of town. I had to wait another week to have surgery, and that's when we found out that my tendon wasn't as severely cut as we thought. It was only partially, not totally, damaged.”

Two months later, she was finally able to start some light running.

“I was a little crazy,” McGee said. “I'm not nice when I can't run.”

She did have to redshirt the 2012 cross country season and missed out on an SEC title, but enjoyed an outstanding year on the track in 2013. McGee was the runner-up for the SEC Commissioner's Trophy indoors with wins in the mile and distance medley relay as well as a runner-up finish in the 3,000 meters, then finished as the NCAA runner-up in the 1,500 outdoors.

She followed that up by setting a school record in the 1,500 meters competing for Team USA at the 2013 World Championships in Belgium this past summer, running a personal-best 4:09.85.

More recently, while competing in just her third cross country meet since 2011, McGee ran a personal-best 6K time of 20:00.19 that ranks second all-time at UF en route to a regional runner-up finish, the best for a UF women's runner since Rebecca Lowe won the regional title in 2009.

“I do consider myself a track athlete, but there are things in cross country that you can't match in track and field,” McGee said. “I think that team aspect is one of those things, and I missed that.”

In addition to being happy, healthy and running again, McGee has altered her approach to casual footwear.

“I still haven't worn those sandals again,” she said. “I'm a little superstitious.”

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