Regen McGee, a freshman on the cross country and track and field teams, has begun to lay her foundation for the future as possibly one of the best female distance runners in school history and maybe even Conference USA history.
Yet, Regen and her family have seen this type of success from her older sister Cory McGee.
Cory ran for Florida, where she was a two-time SEC champion in the 1500m race, runner-up in the NCAA championships in 2015 and ran in the Olympic trials in 2012 and 2016 just to name a few of her accomplishments.
As proud as Regen is of her sister’s accomplishments, Cory has created a tough standard for her and her sister Devin, who also runs on the team.
“My sister Cory has definitely set a standard in the family,” Regen said. “Devin [and I] constantly get asked the same question, ‘Is Cory your sister?’ There’s definitely a standard and I’m not unhappy about it. It’s a great goal to have.”
Rather than having pressure of having to become a great runner like her sister, she has found what many runners have, which is the simple joy to run and the love to race with her team.
“I’ve never had a team my whole life,” Regen said. “I had my sisters, but that wasallIhad.Wegrewupinatownthat doesn’t really care about running. So coming here and getting into this whole new life and different atmosphere of running with a real coach and a real team is amazing. I love it a lot, and everything has gotten so much better.”
However, running in college was not her immediate plan and Regen was ready to end her career after high school.
“I worked with Cory a while back when Regen was really little,” Head Coach Aaron Kindt said. “So I’ve known them for a long time. Coming out of high school Regen had a lot of success, but towards the end of her career she had lost a little bit of the fire and wasn’t sure if she wanted to do it.”
McGee received her scholarship offer her junior year of high school but originally turned it down. After taking a season off for most of her junior year, she returned to the track her senior year of high school. After meeting her future teammates and rediscovering her love of running, she planned to walk on to the USM team.
“Most scholarships for runners come junior year and I was surprised [head coach Aaron Kindt] still had money, but I wouldn’t have cared,” Regen said. “I knew it was what I wanted to do.”
Kindt was not afraid to give Regen a chance despite her draw back towards running at the end of high school.
Despite the success of her sister Cory, it has been her sister Devin that Regen credits her love of running. Devin originally chose to sign for soccer at USM, which was different from the family status quo.
“Cory got this success out of running, everything seemed to fall into place, everything was given to her, she went to college for free,” Regen said. “She got a job in Boston because of her running. Everything was given to her because of her success. So when Devin wanted to do something else, my dad questioned on why she wanted to do that instead of doing what my sister [Cory] did.”
With the change of soccer coaches and Regen coming to USM, Devin decided to join the cross country/track team. Devin could not pass up the chance to be on a team with her kid sister and simply wanted to race with her sister.
“[Devin’s] the reason I’m running,” Regen said. “The chance on being on a team with my sister that did everything for me. Devin made [me] who I am since I was a kid. She’s my best friend. She inspired me in every aspect.”
Regen is already on pace to have a historic distance career at USM. In the current outdoor season, Regen has one win on the season in the 800m run at the Mississippi State Relays. In the indoor season as a member of the Distance Medley team, she received second place in the Conference USA indoor championships while also qualifying for the finals in the mile race in the conference indoor championships too.
Her most notable accomplishment occurred during the indoor season breaking the 5:00 mark, a mark that is considered to be a hard milestone for many female college runners.
“She’s always had the talent,” Kindt said. “I think finding a place where we could feed her passion and [help] rediscover what she loves about running. I don’t know what her ceiling is, but she is going to do a lot of great things for us.”
Her biggest goal is to one day make it to nationals as possibly the first female distance runner from Southern Miss. If Regen can stay healthy, she can be the best distance runner in school history and can easily walk away with several conference titles in her career and her goal of going to nationals.
“I see the fire in her now and I think for the first time in her life she is loving running,” Kindt said.