Gillespie’s record-breaking career ends
Keely Gillespie has rewritten the USC Aiken cross country record books over the last four years.
Gillespie, a North Augusta High School graduate, captured three individual wins, the five best 6K times and the three top 5K times in USCA history during her stellar career.
“I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish during my time at USC Aiken,” she said. “I worked really hard for all of the records I have.”
During her freshman year at USCA, Gillespie was named Peach Belt Conference Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-Peach Belt Conference. She attributed her success as a freshman to her work at North Augusta High School, including playing three sports, cross country, volleyball and soccer.
“Playing a lot of sports made me learn how to manage my time,” she said. “When I got to college, I was a little bit more prepared to balance school, practice and cross country meets.”
The Belvedere native was named Second-Team All-Peach Belt Conference her sophomore year, All-Southeast Region her junior year and was recognized for her academic work with PBC Honorable Mention All-Academic and USTFCCCA All-Academic Women’s Cross Country Team honors.
“I was really happy to be named All-Region during my junior year,” Gillespie said. “That was something I worked very hard for. Also, I got my first individual win (at the 5K Francis Marion Invitational) during that season.”
Gillespie “peaked” at the end of her career.
“I peaked at the end of this year, setting my personal record at 22:21,” she said. “It was a whole minute faster than my original personal record. I was also able to capture two individual wins during my senior season.”
Gillespie won two races back-to-back, with the Bridgestone-Pacer Invitational and the FMU Invitational on Oct. 4 and Oct. 18.
The senior is hopeful that her records will work as motivation for those to come to USCA in the future.
“I hope to be someone that people can look up to and can strive to be better than,” Gillespie said. “I want someone to see my records and work hard to beat the times I ran.”
Now that her career is finished at USCA, Gillespie is looking forward to graduation and a career in nursing that will follow.
“I’m hoping to work as a nurse in a maternity ward,” she said. “I’d like to stay in the area, but it really depends on where my life takes me.”
As for her running career, she hopes to do some road races, which she was not able to do during her cross country career.
“I’ve thought about doing a half-marathon and some road races,” Gillespie said. “I’ve never been able to do the Color Run or the Mud Run, because they’ve gone on during our season. Those are two things I want to do. They look really fun.”
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for the North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.