McKenzie’s fast start to season

To many, the McNeese State track and field teams are known for two things: being the rowdy bunch who cheer on other teams at their sporting events throughout the year and the people in the bright neon-green shirts who walk around the parking lot raising money through the 50-50 raffles.

But today, those teams will get to show fans why they are on scholarship when McNeese hosts the Mc-Neese Indoor II College meet at the Ralph O. Ward Recreational Complex. Field events start at 11 a.m. while the running events start at 4:30 p.m.

McNeese was initially scheduled to start the indoor season by hosting a meet, but instead accepted an invitation to the Ted Nelson meet at Texas A&M.

This meet follows a week of solid performances from both teams last week at the Samford Invite and Multis. Two of the standout performances came from senior sprinter Tyler Smith and senior multis performer Grace McKenzie. Smith doubled up, winning the 60- and 200-meter dashes. McKenzie, a native of Cork, Ireland, not only won the pentathlon, but she broke her own school record and set Southland Conference and Irish national records.

McKenzie, who won’t compete this weekend, said she knew she broke her school record, but did not know about the Irish record. She did not perform how she wanted to in the 800 meters. Despite her time of 2 minutes, 13.51 seconds being second-best in the SLC this season, her initial reaction to the record-breaking performance wasn’t the excitement most people would imagine.

“It was terrible,” McKenzie said of her reaction. “Because I recognized that I broke the school record because that was my own, but I was so upset with my 800 time because I wanted to break the 800 school record that I didn’t pay attention to that I had gotten the Irish record too. I was kind of in a daze.”

McKenzie is resting in order to prepare for the Meyo Invitational, which takes place at Notre Dame on Feb.

2. Although she is looking forward to the rest, McKenzie said she is practicing hard and believes that the performances at Samford are just the start of things to come.

“Luckily, it’s not a case of I did the performances and I was like, ‘Dang, that took everything I had and that was all I could give,’” she said. “I really think we left a lot of points out on the track in areas I know I could have hit marks better, I could have been tighter technically, I could have just run harder in the 800 or the hurdles. But that’s all places that with more confidence and more meets as the season goes on, I can definitely shave those (times) down.”

Smith will compete this weekend and said he looks forward to competing in front of friends. His time in the 60 ranks third in the SLC, while his 200 time is tied for sixth.

“We’re all excited about it,” Smith said. “I really like that other sports come out to support us because we showcase our love for the university and just school spirit and to be able to go out there and show what we’re about. You come here and you’re going to see a whole bunch of love from us. I’m really glad that I’m here to see everyone’s reactions from it.”


(ON FILE: McNeese State’s Grace McKenzie set several records in the women’s pentathlon in January 2019.)

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Tyler Smith, McNeese sprinter

Kirk Meche