Austin's Makenzie Harris named Daily's Track Athlete of the Year

·3 min read

Jun. 10—If anyone in attendance at an Austin football game this fall decides to scan the field searching for the best athlete, they might need to look closer to the sidelines.

That's where they can find Makenzie Harris cheering on the Black Bears. When it comes to athletic achievements, Harris has a pretty solid resume just based on what she did this spring.

Harris closed out her junior year at the Class 7A state track meet by finishing first in the 200-meter dash (24.78) and second in the 100-meter dash (12.32). She then followed that with a second-place finish in the state heptathlon competition.

Those accomplishments have earned Harris the Daily's Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year honor.

"Track is something I've done since the seventh grade," Harris said. "I've always loved running and have been pretty good at it. In elementary school, my teacher made me run with the boys."

Some of that desire to excel in track is fueled by Harris' parents. Her father is Jerry Harris, who ran track at Wallace State in Hanceville and Texas Christian University. He competed professionally while being sponsored by Adidas.

Harris' mother is Adonnaca Burton, who until recently was the Austin track and field head coach. She's now the Austin girls basketball head coach after Bruce Hamilton retired. Burton was a star basketball player at Brewer, but was also a star sprinter in high school.

"I think because both my Mom and Dad were involved with track that it was just a natural thing that I would do that," Harris said. "I just love the sport and it's something I want to do in college."

Harris' collection of medals that she has brought home over the years is evidence of her success. She's hoping that her recent success and competition in AAU meets this summer will increase interest from colleges.

Having a successful spring looked a little doubtful when some pain in her left foot raised concerns about a possible stress fracture developing.

After two weeks in a protective boot, Harris was ready for her sectional meet. She finished first in the 100, 200, 100 hurdles and second in the 400.

"Coaches that didn't know about the situation with her foot were asking 'where has this girl been?" Burton said.

In addition to the first in the 200 and the second in the 100 at state, Harris was sixth in the 100 hurdles.

Harris' experience at state in the 400 didn't go quite as well. The event is described as a sprinter's race that no one wants to run. It's one lap around the track. Her father was one of the top 400 sprinters in the world.

"It's really a struggle for me," Harris said. "I've talked to my Dad about it many times. It's really more of a mental thing than anything else."

Harris' experience with the heptathlon went better than she expected. The heptathlon features seven events — 100-meter hurdles, high jump, shot put, 200-meter dash, long jump, javelin and 800-meter run.

"This year was the first time I ever tried it," Harris said. "I thought I could place pretty high because I already do some of the events. I never expected to finish second."

Harris totaled 4,122 points to finish second to Northridge's Rashni Walker with 4,479.

"The plan is to work hard and do even better next year," Harris said.

david.elwell@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2395. Twitter @DD_DavidElwell.

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