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Boys Runner of the Year: North Hall's Ty McCormack
North Hall's Ty McCormack is The Times' Boys Runner of the Year.


Listen to McCormack speaking Chinese.

Girls Runner of the Year: Flowery Branch's Kiara Woods

Cross country All-Area

North Hall’s Ty McCormack has an academic background that makes him different that almost any other kid his age.

When you combine the fact that McCormack, a senior, has traveled a rigourous road academically with the fact that he’s one of the faster boys cross country runners in the country, well, he certainly sticks out from the pack.

McCormack, who carries a 4.5 GPA and ranks fifth in his senior class, hopes to link together the fact that he’s fluent in Mandarin Chinese with his background in running into a career in international business. However, for now he’s enjoying the ride with a running career that is a lock for a Division-I college program next season.

“It certainly sets me apart with the fact that I speak Chinese,” McCormack said. “You’re able to communicate with 1.3 billion people through just one person, so it’s pretty special and makes me more marketable.”

McCormack finished his final cross country season at North Hall by winning eight individual titles, the USA Track & Field Junior Olympic Cross Country championship on Dec. 12 in Reno, Nevada, and finishing second at the state meet. For his efforts, McCormack is The Times’ Boys Cross Country Runner of the Year.

“When I look back on it, it was a good year,” McCormack said. “Not winning that state team title was kind of a negative note to end the year on.

“That stung pretty bad at the time.”

McCormack seemed to be unstoppable as the clear leader of the Trojans’ boys this season. He reeled off wins at the Northeast Georgia Championships, Asics Invitational, Hall County Championships, Clara Bowl, War Eagle Invitational and Region 7-AAA Championships.

Of course, nothing could top the feeling of his final race of his high school cross country career, winning the national title with a time of 16 minutes, 6 seconds in a race with 250 runners and an added obstacle of 18 inches of snow on the ground.

“I don’t think it really hit me until that night that I had really won,” McCormack said. “It was the culmination of all the hard work I put into running.”

Along with winning the national title this season, McCormack, the first runner in Hall County to break 16 minutes in the 5K, also shattered the school’s previous record (Nick Long, 16:07) by more than a full minute at the Foot Locker Invitational (15:05) on Nov. 28 in Charlotte, N.C.

With his record-setting season, he’s being courted to run at schools such as Auburn, Clemson, North Carolina and Florida starting next season. Luckily for McCormack, they all offer the international business program he hopes to follow.

He credits his running success to the training schedule set in place by North Hall community coach Art DaCosta. McCormack says that DaCosta has a knack for having runners ready to peak at just the right time. Then the team members set into motion that plan and stick with their responsibility to the team.

“Ty really did everything I asked from him,” DaCosta said. “He works very hard and is an intelligent runner.

“He’s exceeded all expectations.”

Of course, it seems like no matter what McCormack tries, he excels.

He’ll graduate from high school as an international baccalaureate with eight semesters of Chinese under his belt.

All along, McCormack was academically ahead of the curve compared to kids his own age. He skipped the fourth grade entirely, and registered off the charts with math testing in middle school.

According to his father, Thad McCormack, Ty already had his multiplication tables memorized in a matter of days in the third grade, leaving his teacher in a bind with what to do with such an advanced student.

“Ty goes to school to learn and feels cheated if the teacher isn’t teaching,” Thad McCormack said.

Along with a gentle nudge from his parents, Ty McCormack first got into Chinese since North Hall offers it as a language option.

As a junior, he also completed a year of Chinese through online courses at Michigan State University by meeting with a professor online twice weekly in a “virtual classroom.”

According to McCormack, to become fluent in Chinese takes mastery of roughly 2,000 characters, which is much less than the roughly 10,000 words it would take to become fluent in English.

He credits learning the language to the help of his North Hall teacher, Frank Li. “He’s the best Chinese teacher,” McCormack said.

“Mr. Li has really been a God send,” Thad McCormack said.

McCormack’s love of running and Chinese tie together neatly with his plans to work as either a running shoe developer or an overseas liaison for a shoe company manufacturer.

Even over the past couple years in high school, McCormack has built a reputation for helping teammates find the right running shoe to correct any lingering problems.

However, McCormack’s long-term goals center around being a viable job candidate in the business world. He says that speaking Chinese will make it much easier to assimilate to their culture.

“Ty is the kind of person that is going to go after whatever he sets his mind to,” his father said.

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