Louisa hurdler bound for Missouri State

Sophie Karney clears a hurdle in the 300-meter hurdles race during a meet at Woodberry Forest. Beginning next year, Karney will be racing for the Missouri State Bears. Photo by Chris Campbell


Sophie Karney has been running track for a long time. While she’s competed in a number of events over the years, her primary focus has been on hurdles.

“I love the challenge,” she said. “It’s more risky because there are obstacles in your way that can trip you up. It’s a lot harder to recover in hurdles.”

Karney began competing in track and field events while she was growing up in Idaho and began doing hurdles at the age of seven, even competing in the Junior Olympics in Bend, Oregon. For the past four years, she has been competing for the Louisa Lions track team in both their indoor and outdoor track seasons.

In addition to the 55-meter hurdles in indoor track and the 100-meter hurdles in outdoor track, Karney has competed in the 100- and 200-meter dash and run on 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams for Louisa. She’s even gotten off of the track and competed in the high jump and long jump.

With her time as a Lion behind her, Karney is now looking to the next chapter in her track and field career, which will take her to Missouri State University. When she first started looking at their program, Karney wasn’t sure she would make the team because her times weren’t quite where they needed to be. Even so, Karney went to visit the school and met with women’s track coach Carmelita Jeter.

Jeter, a three-time Olympic medalist, joined the university’s track and field coaching staff in 2018 and was promoted to associate head coach last year. After meeting with her and several members of the track team, Karney was certain that she’d found where she wanted to go.

“She’s just the most down-to-earth woman,” Karney said. “Once we talked about the goals she had for the program, I knew I could meet them. She wants the team to be presentable, both on the track and in the classroom. She wants girls who want to be there.”

Karney, like many of her classmates, had her final season of track canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

“I had a lot of really big goals for my senior season,” she said. “I was going to try to qualify for nationals in the 300-meter hurdles. I was only a few seconds off that time.”

Rather than let missing out on the outdoor track season hold her back, Karney plans to use it as motivation.

“I have to take that ambition and transfer it to next season,” she said.

With her time as a Lion now behind her, Karney is taking time to reflect on the last four years.

“I’m going to miss being a leader on the team and seeing everyone grow,” she said. 

There are plenty of things for Karney to look forward to at Missouri State.

“I’m looking forward to seeing how much potential I have in that environment,” she said. “I want to be as competitive as possible.”

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