Leading the pack

By Paul Harder, The Observer April 04, 2014 11:23 am

Union’s McKenzie Evans was named one of the athletes to watch during the track and field season.
Union’s McKenzie Evans was named one of the athletes to watch during the track and field season.
 

Union runner earns state wide honor that helps put her on the map

Most young kids don’t grasp the idea of investing. It doesn’t compute in the information now age. Money and time are something spent immediately — not left to grow and mature with time. 

Union’s McKenzie Evans is the exception to the norm. The high school runner has invested countless hours into something many people see as torture — running for fun. But, it’s paid off.  

 

Evans was listed in the Who’s Who in Oregon Track for 2014. 

“It’s such a huge honor,” Evans said. “It was a surprise, and it’s something that I’ll always remember.

“It will help with looking for schools to go to, and will look good on an application.”

Who’s Who has been published since 1965, and profiles the athletes to watch around the state in each classification along with records from past years.

Evans beat out Grant Union’s Mary Roy to be named the Women’s Athlete of the Year. She won the 3,000-meter in during the track and field season last year in a meet record of 10 minutes, 28.57 seconds — beating the record by five seconds. Her time is also fifth all-time at Class 2A. This fall, Evans set another 2A record at the state cross country meet with a time of 18 minutes, 42 seconds.

Union head coach Steve Sheehy could write a book about what it’s like to coach a runner of her talent, but thankfully gave an abridged version.

“First of all, it has been really fun.  A blast actually,” Sheehy said. “Getting to be a part of what she has accomplished has been very rewarding. She has a great attitude and sense of humor.  She tries to do everything you ask even when it isn’t easy or when it seems like too much or too little. Fortunately for me I have several runners on my team like this. But, she is pretty much the epitome of what an athlete should be.  She is humble, and friendly, but when that gun goes off you had better be ready because she is going to do what she can to beat you.”

It’s not just her competitive nature that helps Evans succeed. Sheehy also said running is built into her DNA.

“For starters, McKenzie has been blessed with some pretty good genetics,” Sheehy said. “Her mom was a volleyball player for the University of Oregon.  McKenzie has a really efficient stride and a great aerobic engine. Those things alone give her the basic foundation for being pretty good. 

“But I think what sets her apart is her willingness to put in the miles, not only during the cross country and track seasons but in the summer and winter too.  I believe that is what really sets her apart.  One other really important ingredient is that she gets to run and train with a pretty exceptional group of young ladies.”    

While the recognition is for track and field and cross country, Evans said she likes the off-track running of cross country. 

“I like the team aspect of cross country,” Evans said. “You’re competing as a team, while still trying to finish first. On the track it’s all about how fast you are by yourself. Plus, I just like running in the terrain.”

Evans returns to the track at the Carnival of Speed at noon today in Milton-Freewater.