By Alyssa Palfey, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I came on my official visit September of my senior year, and I didn't really have a choice at that point, I just loved it so much," said junior Megan McCloskey when talking about her college decision process.
McCloskey is now currently the No.2 all-time high jumper in Penn State outdoor history with a mark of 5'-11.50" (1.82m), but she didn't start her track career with jumps. McCloskey has been involved with track since she was little, where she started competing in meets as young as six years old.
Photo provided by Megan McCloskey
"I started competing in track when I was in kindergarten, and it was more just a fun thing that I did with my brother and sister. We would just do summers and all-comers meets, then through my grade school program, which is Catholic Youth Organization, we started in first grade where it was just running the 100 and stuff like that. That's kinda where I got started, and then I've been doing it ever since."
"I started to practice high jump a little bit in fourth grade because we needed to score points and no one ever did high jump, so it was just something I found and I wasn't very good at it. In fifth and sixth grade, I started to realize that I had some skill in it and then I started doing AAU track and field outside of my grade school track."
Coming to Penn State wasn't necessarily in McCloskey's plans, but having a family history with the school and having a great recruitment weekend made her decision pretty clear.
"My mom ran track at Penn State, which was obviously always in the back of my mind. My dad played football here, so there was definitely a Penn State tradition in my family. Since I was little, I thought I would never go to Penn State because I didn't just want to follow them. I looked at a bunch of different places, mostly local because I didn't want to stray too far from home because I'm super close to my family and I love home."
"I came on my visit and we did the whole recruiting weekend and I stayed with my host, which was Kasey Kemp and she was awesome. I knew immediately that the other schools I was talking to I was going to have to let them know sooner than later because I fell in love with Penn State when I got here," McCloskey said "The team aspect that I felt when I was on campus that weekend was different than any other school I went to. I could tell that it was a full team rather than just individuals. They were all friends and I felt welcomed in very fast."
McCloskey is in her junior year and has competed in five Big Ten Championships during her time here. This past indoor Big Ten Championship, McCloskey placed 2nd while the girls team won the gold.
"The Big Ten Championships indoor this past season has been my favorite memory as a whole," the junior said. "We knew that we were in a good spot going into the championship, but we didn't know exactly where that would leave us at the end of the weekend. After I finished high jumping the second day of Big Tens, which is the final day, I didn't really know where our team was at I just knew everyone was having really good performances. I could feel the energy and then someone told me we could actually do this and all of a sudden, we had two races left to watch and then they announced our name. We knew as soon as the relay was over that we were Big Ten Champs."
Photo provided by Megan McCloskey
"It was with a special group of girls that were on the same page the whole season. We were working together and being able to win something with those people, especially our seniors before they graduate, was just so special to me."
McCloskey still has a lot more planned for the rest of her outdoor season and the rest of her time at Penn State. Her main goal is to make it to Nationals this upcoming summer.
"I definitely have some big goals. I'm looking to be a Big Ten Champ individually, on the top of the podium, that would be my biggest goal and to qualify for Nationals in Eugene this June. I haven't gotten there yet, I have gotten to the prelims, but I would love to be there, and I think that's the ultimate stage for a Division I track athlete."
As well as making it to Nationals, McCloskey hopes the team will be outdoor Big Ten Champions the first weekend in May.
"I want to repeat. I want it so badly for us to be able to win a Big Ten
championship on our track at home outdoors. I think it would be even cooler if
we could do it with our boys. That's my goal for our team as a whole, I'm
really hoping that the two of us come home victorious on that day in May."