Tough as nails and seemingly faster than a speeding bullet, senior Katy Jay is the heart of the women’s indoor and outdoor track teams.
A four-time All-East sprinter, Jay has spent most of her past three seasons speeding to the head of the pack, leaving her competition in the dust and etching her name in the record books.
But those records did not come easily. They are the product of natural athleticism, experience, perseverance, and hard work.
“It all started with gymnastics when I was six,” she said. “I did that until I was about fourteen, when I got to junior high. After that, my dad really made me try just about every sport there was — including track.”
And the rest is history.
“I was pretty much naturally fast right from the start,” Jay said of her years at Mitchell High School in Nebraska.
During her junior and senior seasons, she captured six state titles.
“I guess my success in high school is what really inspired me to run in college,” Jay said.
“I can’t tell you how glad I am that she decided to come here,” assistant women’s coach and sprint specialist Richard Bowman said. “She’s the best sprinter we’ve ever had.”
Whether at the high school or college level, in individual or team events, Jay has always delivered top performances. As a junior last year, she established herself as the fastest female runner in the Ivy League and one of the best in the country. Her indoor and outdoor records speak for themselves.
Inside, she set Barton Hall records in the 60m (7.59s), 200m (23.9s), and 300m (39.87s) races and also anchored the fastest 4x400m relay team in Cornell history.
Outside, her success continued as she again set school records, this time in the 100m and 200m races. Like a true champion, though, she saved her best performances for last. At the 2002 outdoor Heptagonal Championships, she won the 100m in 11.88s and the 200m in 23.99s. At that same event, she also mustered enough energy to anchor the 4x100m and 4x400m teams, both of which captured Heps titles. The culmination of her season was a bid to the NCAA championships, which she earned by placing third in a tough 200m race with a time of 24.02s.
This year, Jay hopes to top her already stellar record by achieving her main goal: running in the NCAA championships.
“My number one goal is to actually run in NCAAs this year. I want to be at the top of my sport,” said Jay.
“She can do it,” Bowman added. “But she has to remember all the steps on the ladder to get there.”
Jay certainly runs fast enough to qualify, but she sometimes questions whether her body can withstand the strain of constant training and competition.
“Quitting is never an option for me, but I have some chronic injuries that make it difficult for me to train and compete,” she said, referring to painful back and foot problems.
Injuries have yet to stop Jay and she will use her determination to overcome them again this year on her quest to become the best. Preparing for her final chance to make it to the big show, Jay promised to give everything she can to leave Cornell with not only, Heps and ECAC championships but national recognition in the NCAA championships as well.
“I hope people come out to watch her this year,” concluded Bowman. “It’s the last chance to see who is perhaps the best female athlete at Cornell blow away the competition and set more records.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson