Not many high school student-athletes go on to play sports in college and only a few accomplish what Amira McKee did.
A 2015 graduate from East Mountain High School and a two-sport standout in both cross country and track for the Lady Timberwolves, McKee also achieved topflight success at Lubbock Christian University in Lubbock, Texas.
At East Mountain, she was Amira Cunningham, where she earned several trips to the awards podium, including winning three individual state titles. She captured the gold medal in the 3,200-meter race at the 2013 Class 2A track and field state championships, and won gold medals in both the 3,200m and the 1,600m races at the 4A state championships during her senior year. She also helped East Mountain’s 2013 girls cross country team win the Class 2A state championship.
After high school, Amira took her distance-running career to the next level, competing in cross country, indoor track, and outdoor track for the Lubbock Christian University Chaparrals, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II school.
“It was weird going away from the East Mountains to a flat city,” she said about the initial transition. “But my coaches were great and my team was awesome.”
Three years ago she married fellow East Mountain graduate and distance runner, Alex McKee.
With the Lady Chaparrals, or “Lady Chaps” as they are called on the LCU athletics website, Amira McKee captured multiple top finishes in cross country and track in both the Heartland and the Lone Star athletic conferences.
“I definitely saw a lot of success under both programs,” she said.
McKee became Lubbock Christian University’s first All-Conference track performer in 2017 and repeated the accomplishment in 2018 and 2019, according to the LCU athletics website.
She finished in second or third place in several races throughout her collegiate track career, and she won the 2018 Lone Star Conference indoor 3K and indoor 5K titles, as well as the Lone Star Conference outdoor 5K title; she also won the 2019 LSC outdoor 3K Steeplechase—an obstacle race with barriers, hurdles, and a water pit.
McKee’s top college cross country achievements include winning the 2018 Heartland Conference individual title, and in 2019, she won the Lone Star Conference individual title and helped her team win the LSC championship.
“That would probably be the highlight of my college career,” McKee said.
In December of 2019, McKee was named the Lone Star Conference Female Runner of the Year, the first Lubbock Christian runner to be selected for the award, according to the LCU athletics website.
McKee graduated from Lubbock Christian University in May with a degree in Humanities. Her final outdoor track season got canceled due to Covid-19. “That really sucked, she said, adding, “But I graduated so that’s good.”
McKee’s advice to high school runners who aspire to competing at the college level: “Definitely go for it. It doesn’t matter if you are the slowest person on the team or the fastest, just go for it.”
Ger has been writing and shooting photos of high school sports for The Independent for 15 years. His dedication to youth athletics goes beyond sports reporting. He is past president of East Mountain Little League and works as a baseball umpire. He lives in Edgewood with his family.