McKenzie Wright made a name for herself last season on the Lady Laker track team, qualifying for state in both the triple jump and the high jump.
Finishing fifth in the triple jump and falling just short of the gold in the high jump, Wright has just been named the recipient of the Aldo Sebben Award for Class 4.
Her initial reaction on receiving the award was one of surprise and excitement.
"I had no expectations of getting this, so it's really exciting," Wright said.
She had no idea that she would earn this award after her stellar season, even though she was undefeated throughout the regular season and districts in the triple jump and high jump.
Wright's journey in world of track began in middle school.
"All of my friends were doing it, so of course I had to," Wright said.
But once she gave it a chance, she was hooked.
"I ended up being really good at it, and loved it, so I just kept at it throughout high school, and here I am," she said.
After her sophomore year, Wright and her family moved to Missouri from Liberal, Kan., where she began her first season on the track team under the direction of Coach John McNabb.
"I knew she was coming (to Camdenton)," McNabb said. "I did my homework, did some research, and I knew she was a legitimate athlete. My biggest concern was how well she would do making the change from the second biggest class in Kansas to the biggest class here, so I didn't know how that would equate. I knew she would do well, but didn't know how well."
In her first season as a Laker, Wright managed to sweep a first-place in win in the three jumping events (long jump, high jump and triple jump) multiple times, and eventually helped the Lady Lakers win the conference meet, as Wright once again finished first in all three events. According to McNabb, she was competing at a higher level ever before, reaching heights she had never touched at her previous school.
"She jumped better last year than she ever had before," Coach McNabb said. "By the end of the season, she was more consistent in the triple jump; she went 5'8" in the high jump a number of times. She had good meets and good distances, but last year, her average meet in the triple jump was as good as her best meets from the previous season."
Competing in multiple events can be a tough task, but she relishes the opportunity.
"It's crazy, because you have to have the endurance to go from event to event, and you have to have a different mindset for each one," Wright said.
Page 2 of 2 - Currently, the 17-year-old Wright and her coaches have some big expectations for the upcoming season.
"I worked really hard this year, and it showed," Wright said. "I'm definitely hoping for a return to state."
Wright's season ended with a second place finish in the high jump at state, which was a somewhat disappointing experience after judges had initially told her she had won. McNabb thinks that her fifth place finish in the triple jump may have been affected by the fact that, immediately after competing in the high jump, she had to compete in the triple jump, which is taxing for any athlete, not just physically, but mentally.
This season, the goal will be for that gold medal, which her coaches think is more than plausible. Coach McNabb has even expressed his thoughts that Wright could win state and receive another award for the 2014 season.