LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - After COVID-19 cut the McNeese outdoor track season short, multi-event star Grace McKenzie announced she’s coming back for the 2021 outdoor season.
“It’s kind of like the playground I never grew out of. I can jump around, I can throw things around, I can run around,” McNeese multis athlete Grace McKenzie said.
For McNeese multi-event star Grace McKenzie, the track is a special place. She says it’s her sanctuary.
“I don’t know. There’s just something about being out there for hours in the hot sun. Even tracks have different textures and smells," McKenzie said. "When it rains, you know the smell of the track when it rains. You become obsessed.”
That obsession has molded McKenzie into one of McNeese’s greatest athletes. She’s earned awards like the ‘Desmond Jones Memorial McNeese Athlete of the Year’ and being named NCAA All-American in the pentathlon. McKenzie is blessed with talent, but what really makes her a class-act, is her ability to remain humble through all of her success.
“When I was younger, I used to get a medal at a school race for, I am not sure if you have them here, but a potato sack race. I’d get all these medals and then the first thing I did was take them off and gave them to my mom, that was just always how I was. To me, I think the value of the things we get aren’t as important as the event themselves,” McKenzie said.
Training to be a multis athlete is never easy, especially during a pandemic when restrictions are in place.
“Every other day my roommate walks down the stairs and asks me what I am doing. I will be on the stairs doing incline dumbbell presses or I’ll be under our kitchen table doing pull-ups. I use our high stools as a squat rack," said McKenzie. "Anything that is dangerous and not recommended, I’ve been trying. But it’s fun because you have to be creative.”
As McKenzie continues to prepare for her 2021 outdoor track senior season, there’s one specific event that remains in the back of her mind.
“I just can’t wait to do another Heptathlon. The big one on my horizon is Texas relays," McKenzie said. "That meet is so special, and I’ve only done it once. Of course, the multis is a little bit quieter, but just the heat and the atmosphere. How serious the event is taken; I really can’t wait to do that. I’m really going to try to get back on the international circuit too.”