Faith and a book scholarship took junior cross country and track athlete Palee Myrex’s trek from a preferred walk-on to one of this season’s top returning runners, she said.
“I’m very grateful for [the previous coaches], that they had the faith to put into me, to invest in me, to bring me here and try to get me better,” Myrex said. “It started with someone just having faith, hope and trust in me that I could do it and believe that I could do it. That’s really what got me here.”
Myrex was offered scholarships at smaller schools, but ultimately made the decision to attend Alabama when former cross country head coach Randy Hasenback told her the program had enough funding to assist her with book purchases.
The Bremen, Ala. native has gone from not being on the away meet roster her freshman year to competing in Southeastern Conference championships her sophomore year, to having goals of going back to SECs and the national championship this season.
“I feel like I can attest to the saying ‘hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard’,” Myrex said. “I definitely was not the typical distance runner [when I first started], but I set goals for myself. If you can always keep those goals in your mind and keep working hard it will pay off.”
Second-year head coach Dan Waters believes Myrex’s possibilities are endless mostly because of her desire. Myrex said Waters’ system has helped make her a stronger and smarter runner.
Clay Campbell, Myrex’s high school coach, praised Myrex for her approach to both athletics and everyday life.
“Palee is one of the best athletes I’ve ever coached,” he said. “She has the desire and drive that you wish all athletes had. She sets a goal and she knows what she’s trying to do and she will work and do whatever it takes to do that … she’s a great Christian lady and a lot of her faith shows over in her athletics. She’s just a super kid.”
In the Tide’s 2012 season opener, Myrex led the Alabama back and finished first for the Tide as the team won the Crimson Tide Kick Off. Myrex and her teammates also finished fifth in this year’s Commodore Classic in Nashville – the same course Myrex hopes to return to in October for the SEC championships.
Along with Myrex’s consistent improvement as an athlete, she’s proven to be solid in the classroom as well. The biology pre-med major and business minor is well on her way to graduating summa cum laude with a 4.0 GPA. It’s another strenuous goal, and she said she’s facing some tough classes this year, but she’s up to the challenge.
“I’m really focused on academics too,” she said. “I still have a 4.0, so I’m really trying to hold onto that.”
Myrex came from a school known for having winning programs. She won two state championships in cross country, was a four-time state champion in the 3,200m and 1,600m in track as well as a three-time champion in the 800m, and won back-to-back state basketball championships at Cold Springs High School. Now in her third year at the University, she wants to bring that success with her to college.
“I’ve always had this drive, especially from my family and our community, it being so small, we were big on winning,” she said. “I think that’s the attitude Alabama has. They bring you her to be a winner … I feel that attitude started in high school – always wanting to win and be successful – has carried on and it’s helped me in college.”