Georgia Hitchcock (center) signed to run track and cross country for McPherson College next year. She is pictured with (from left) coach Brett Engdahl, coach Maggie Kirkham, and family Maria and Marty Dupertuis.

Next stop, Kansas.

Cody High School senior Georgia Hitchcock, who has been a key distance runner for the Fillies, last Friday signed a letter of intent to compete for McPherson College.

Flanked by family members, mother Maria Dupertis and stepfather Marty Dupertis, and track coach Bret Engdahl and cross country coach Maggie Kirkham, Hitchcock, 18, committed to join the NAIA program in McPherson, Kan., where she plans to study special education.

Hitchcock is receiving combined athletic and academic scholarships.

“I’m very excited,” Hitchcok said. “It’s a new journey to experience.”

She was approached unexpectedly by McPherson’s coaching staff and visited the campus in April.

Her one hesitation about choosing McPherson, Hitchcock said, was the distance from home. The school is about 950 miles from Cody, what Hitchcock said is about a 13 1/2-hour drive.

“I was afraid it was so far away,” she said. “I figured I would see how it is and be open-minded.”

Mom had the same doubts about distance.

“She won’t stay close to home,” Maria said.

Hitchcock was told by a coach that her being from Wyoming appealed to the program because “We run on rough terrain.”

Hitchcock has been a staple of the Cody cross country team and the outdoor track team and also ran some indoor seasons.

On the track, her best times were 2:35.92 in the open 800 meters (2:33 on a relay), 5:53.79 in the 1,600, and 13:03 in the 3,200. Her best 5-kilometer time in cross country is 21:13.21.

Engdahl is a special education teacher and Hitchcock worked as a teacher’s assistant for him and he believes this will be a good profession for her.

“She has an amazing heart,” Engdahl said, “and she’s very compassionate.”

Hitchcock said she chose special education as a field because her brother Marty is a special needs student.

“My brother inspired me,” Hitchcock said.

On the track, Hitchcock was part of the 2018 girls 3A state championship team and was on the placing 4x800-meter relay. Hitchcock ran the 800, 1,600 and 3,200. She was a regular top-five competitor for the cross country team.

She is likely to specialize in longer distances in college, perhaps the 5,000 meters on the track.

“It’s long, but I think I could try,” Hitchcock said.

Engdahl said Hitchcock should do well at that event.

“With some strength training,” he said. “Her turnover (leg speed) is probably best for the 5,000. Whatever she digs into, she will do well.”

Kirkham said it is possible Hitchcock will even be asked to run 10,000 meters. The longer the better for her.

“Once she gets strong, she can keep rolling,” Kirkham said.

The one event Hitchcock wants no part of is the 3,000-meter steeplechase because it reminds her of the hurdles.

Once, doing a workout for Cody, Hitchcock was running over tiny hurdles, as she described them, perhaps only a foot off the ground. As Kirkham yelled at her to raise her knees higher, she tripped and fell hard on her face.

“Probably no steeplechase for me,” Hitchcock said.

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