Three years is all it took for Ty McCormack to leave a lasting legacy as a great distance runner at Clemson University.
After graduating early with an international business degree — Language and International Trade to be precise — last month, he goes down in the Tigers’ record book with Top 10 times in five different distance events as a track and field and cross country standout, all before his 21st birthday.
McCormack, a 2010 North Hall High graduate, also leaves Clemson as a decorated student, as he plans to go forward to pursue a pair of master’s degrees, business and finance, and complete his athletic eligibility at Auburn University starting in the fall.
McCormack, who is fluent in Mandarin Chinese, earned awards for his abilities as a second-language student among Clemson undergrads. He also won the Pat Wannamaker Award for the top graduate in his major, finishing his challenging coursework with a 3.76 grade point average and spending the fall of 2012 studying in China and making business contacts overseas.
He paired both sides of his career together with All-ACC honors in both sports, along with Academic All-American recognition four times.
It was indeed a fast, but memorable, three years at Clemson for McCormack.
“It doesn’t feel like it sank it yet that my time at Clemson is over,” McCormack said. “I’ve learned a lot of lessons that I’ll be able to apply to a lot of areas in my life.
“I’ve learned a great work ethic and no one is going to be able to outwork me.”
McCormack chose Auburn for his graduate coursework based on his chosen field. He has two years of eligibly remaining in both cross country and indoor track and field, since he redshirted last fall while in China, while he has one season remaining to compete in the spring for outdoor track and field.
While McCormack feels like Auburn is the best place for him to attend graduate school, he’s not quite sure yet how it will register when he gets to the starting line to run against guys from Clemson.
“Auburn really felt like home and it’s the most natural fit for what I want to pursue in graduate school,” McCormack said.
When he’s done with school, McCormack will likely have endless opportunities in the business world. Right now, he’d prefer to stay in the US in conjunction with business in Asia. However, he’s likely going to also have the chance to run professionally.
“I feel like Ty’s experience in China was his biggest achievement,” his father, Thad McCormack said. “It allowed him to grow and become comfortable in a foreign country.”
As a junior at Clemson, McCormack ran the anchor mile leg of Clemson’s four-man distance medley relay squad that won the Penn Relays with a time of 9 minutes, 44 seconds. Then at the ACC Championships he took second in the steeplechase (8:50.81 seconds).
McCormack is now second in school history in the distance medley relay, along with the fifth best time in the 5,000 meter and sixth in the steeplechase during the outdoor track season. During the indoor season, he’s seventh in school history in the 3,000 meter and 5,000 race.
His 13:52 in the 5K is fastest in school history among American runners and the best at the school since 1987.
While overseas at the Yunnan Normal University in China, McCormack continued to earn credits toward his graduation.
That’s when he really noticed he was on track for early graduation. According to his father, Ty was also able to play for the school’s basketball team and earned a pair of gold medals in the regional Olympics. His experience learning Chinese in high school and becoming proficient made it possible for McCormack to skip the first four levels of Chinese courses at Clemson.
On Independence Day, McCormack will try for the third straight year to be the first runner from the state to cross the finish line at the Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta. In 2012 with a time of 30:30 in the 10K race, McCormack was the fourth American and 26th overall out of nearly 60,000 participants.