Senior Salute: Mackenzie Walls Of Veterans HS

Mackenzie Walls of Veterans HS will go down in history as being one of the best HS girls distance runners south of I-16. She was the 2019 5A State Champ in the 3200m!


5k XC-   17:51

3200m- 10:52

1600m-  5:07

1) What were some of the highlights of you high school XC and Track careers?

High School running has given me so many amazing memories that I am so thankful for! Some special highlights for me have been winning Region as a team all four years, breaking 19 at Carrollton (if you know, you know), running for Team Georgia at Foot Locker, racing the 3200 at the Meet of Champions (10pm and an unmatched atmosphere!), and accomplishing my absolute dream of winning a state title (3200 in 2019).

(photo by Dan McCauley)
2) Did you encounter any struggles or adversity along the way that you had to overcome?

It was definitely hard for me to find what worked best for me in terms of training and racing. I used to try and train like the boys and race as much as I possibly could but that quickly burnt me out. It was only when I learned to listen to my body and embrace the process that I finally started to become to runner that I wanted so badly to be!

3) Aside from the competition, what was the best part of your school's program?

My team has been such a huge blessing in my life! It so awesome and inspiring to train alongside people who have the same passion as you. It's so amazing to have them to remind me it's not just about the running. For example, the night before the state meet, we all bought matching pjs and had a movie night in our hotel. Such a special memory.

4) Are there any coaches or teammates that you've worked with over the past four years that you'd like to thank?

My coaches have been awesome! They have helped give me so many opportunities that I couldn't have gotten without them Coach Horton, one of my XC coaches and the head track coach, has been my training partner and mentor since I arrived at Veterans. We've had our ups and downs but through it all we have formed a very special bond. I am thankful he is so speedy because I would have had a lot of lonely workouts without him.

5) How are you coping with COVID-19 and the looming possibility that your HS track career might very well be over?

It is definitely sad to think that I may have raced one final time for Veterans and not even realized it. However, I really do believe that there is a purpose for this challenging time, even if no one understands it right now. I trust that God's plan is a lot greater than mine, and I am relying on Him to do what's best for my senior season.

(photo by Dan McCauley)
6) What are your plans and goals for the future? Do you intend on continuing with the sport in college or in another capacity?

This fall I will be continuing my athletic and academic career at GA Tech and pumped is an understatement! Sometimes I wish I could tell my younger self about all the doors running would open for me -- it still feels like a dream. The coaches and girls at GA Tech are so committed to the sport and to each other, and I cannot wait to be a part of that culture. I am also going in with some other awesome Georgia girls and I know we all have some huge goals we hope to accomplish together.

7) What advice would you give a younger athlete who's hoping to have a successful and enjoyable high school career?

SOAK.IT.IN. It truly does fly by. Don't take yourself too seriously, but also do not be afraid to chase big goals. Determination and discipline can take you to places you have always wanted to go. Enjoy the Process! Rushing your growth will do nothing but burn you out! Remember: Slow and steady growth is still growth!!!!!