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  • Reaching for new heights: Camdenton's McKenzie Wright receives the Aldo Sebben Award

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    • What is the Aldo Sebben Award?
      The Aldo Sebben award is an honor for which athletes from each class are selected to receive for outstanding track performances by the Southwest Missouri Cross Country and Track Coaches...
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      What is the Aldo Sebben Award?
      The Aldo Sebben award is an honor for which athletes from each class are selected to receive for outstanding track performances by the Southwest Missouri Cross Country and Track Coaches.

      Who is Aldo Sebben?

      Aldo Sebben was a football, track and cross country coach and Athletics Director at Southwest Missouri State University from 1952-82. His service to the university as a coach and administrator made him a respected figure in both regional and national circles.  A native of Gary, Indiana, and a World War II veteran, Sebben graduated from Illinois State in 1947, earned his master’s degree at Florida State in 1950 and came to SMSU in 1952 as an assistant football coach.  He took over as head mentor of the Bears at the start of the 1956 season and guided SMSU cross country  from the time that sport was started in 1958 until he stepped aside from his coaching duties in 1972.  Sebben took over as SMSU director of athletics in 1955 and his tenure is the longest of any of the nine men who have served in that post.  He was a leader and innovator within the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletic Association in which SMSU was a dominant school for many years. He brought the men’s athletic program from six sports to its present size of 11 with the addition of cross country in 1958, wrestling and baseball in 1964, swimming in 1966 and soccer in 1981. While Sebben was AD, SMSU teams achieved regional and national prominence, with 13 team finishes among the nation’s top 10 in various sports in Division II competition. He was active on many NCAA boards and committees, and, served on the Board of Directors of the National Association of College Directors of Athletics as well as the prestigious NCAA.
  • 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.
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