June 10, 2024

Ole Miss track star McKenzie Long sweeps NCAA Outdoor Championship

Mary Apel

McKenzie Long, photo from OleMissSports.com

All-American Ole Miss runner and current 200-meter world leader McKenzie Long dominated the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships on Saturday, winning the 100m, 200m and 4x100m.

OleMissSports.com reports that McKenzie “turned in three dominant performances in less than three hours’ time to complete just the seventh sweep on the women’s side of the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter relay at the NCAA Outdoor Championships.”

Ole Miss Track and Field became just the fourth team in women’s NCAA Outdoor history to sweep all three events behind Florida State (1984), LSU (1989, 1990, 1996), and Texas (1991, 2023).

Long was also recently in the news for making the Bowerman Watchlist. The Bowerman – collegiate track & field’s version of the Heisman Trophy –is presented each year to the most outstanding male and female athletes in the nation. (The trophy is named after famed Oregon head coach, Bill Bowerman). Long is now just the third Rebel woman to ever make a Bowerman Watch List.

We reached out to McKenzie’s father Micheal Long in Kenzie’s home state of Ohio before the big weekend. Micheal said Kenzie was an athletic child, being a skilled gymnast as well as playing basketball. But her love was Track and Field, he says, something he attributes to the guidance and encouragement of her coaches at Ironton Middle School in Ohio where Kenzie grew up.

Coaches seem to have played a valuable role in her career. Micheal wrote about his daughter’s decision to join Ole Miss track team: “It just felt right, and my biggest concern was whether or not they were going to take care of my girl because Oxford (MS) is a long way from Ohio. The coaches and staff at Ole Miss have been phenomenal.

“McKenzie has flourished with [Ole Miss sprint] Coach Sherrer, and she has trusted the process and her coach and it has paid off. I remember watching Kenzie’s meets on television and each time that she ran she just kept getting better and better. The proudest moments for me as a dad have been watching her break record after record at Ole Miss, and I vividly remember the night that she came from behind to win the 200m SEC championship for the first time at LSU. In my opinion, it was that meet that gave her the confidence that she runs with today.”

Micheal told us that McKenzie’s future is bright, as she sets her sights on an Olympic bid and pro career. The journey to these heights has not always been easy, especially of late. Tragically, McKenzie’s mother passed away unexpectedly at the beginning of the year, just as indoor track season began.

In a clip titled “Running with a Purpose” (linked at the end of this article) McKenzie says that before she would run a race this season she would sit alone in the bleachers and talk to her mom and to God. She knows her mother is with her through the hardest parts of it all. “I trust that’s she’s here with me,” says McKenzie. “she sees everything happen before it unfolds.”

“I can’t put into words how proud I am of the hard work and perseverance that Kenzie has displayed; especially the current track season,” her father wrote. “She continues to keep going because she knows that is what her mom would want her to do…Kenzie continues to make our family proud, and at times it’s overwhelming to think about all of her accomplishments despite the adversity.”

Micheal Long hugs daughter McKenzie at the SEC Outdoor Championship 2023 where she won the 200m the first time. Photo provided.

Congratulations, McKenzie, from your fans here at Darkhorse Press. We can’t wait to watch and follow as you continue to do great things!

More on McKenzie:
See an emotional McKenzie with ESPN track side, https://www.espn.co.uk/video/clip/_/id/40308688“>click here.

“Running with a Purpose”: See Ole Miss’ coverage and races here

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