March 27, 2011

Boys Track and Field MVP: He's not one to relax, only when it helps him win

Mt. Ararat's McKenzie Gary has the work ethic to improve his skills and the focus to put them to use.

By Rachel Lenzi
Staff Writer

TOPSHAM - When McKenzie Gary was struggling in one of his strongest events at the most important meet of the season, his father pulled him aside and offered him some simple advice.

click image to enlarge

McKenzie Gary, second from right, is the Telegram boys indoor track and field MVP after winning three individual events at the Class A state meet to help Mt. Ararat finish second.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


McKenzie Gary, Mt. Ararat, junior, sprints/jumps

The Maine Sunday Telegram MVP won the 55-meter dash (6.62), 200 (22.93) and long jump (22-11/4). He finished fourth in the 300 and fifth in the long jump at the New England championships.

Jack Terwilliger, Cheverus, senior, distance

Won Class A championships in the 1,600 (4:27.01) and 3,200 (10:00.43).

Will Wegener, Falmouth, senior, sprints

Won Class B titles in the 200 (22.84) and 400 (51.38) and finished second in the 55.

Reid Pryzant, Falmouth, junior, hurdles/jumps

Earned Class B titles in the 55 hurdles (7.96) and long jump (20-9) and was third in the triple jump.

Michael Burgess, Greely, senior, shot put

Captured his second consecutive Class B title in the shot put (51-91/2) and finished sixth at the New England championships.

Isaiah Spofford, Waterville, senior, sprints/jumps

Won the Class B title in the 55 dash (6.62) and triple jump (42-101/2) and was second in the 200.

Mike Slovenski, Brunswick, senior, pole vault

Cleared 14 feet and won his second consecutive Class A title.

Jake Leithiser, Old Town, senior, sprints/jumps

Won the Class B title in the high jump (6-4) and finished second in the 55 hurdles and third in the 400.

Nick Morris, Scarborough, junior, distance

Placed first in Class A in the 800 (1:59.2), ran a leg for the victorious 3,200 relay team and finished sixth in the 2-mile.

Manny Vincent, Westbrook, senior, sprints/jumps

Won the Class A title in the 400 (51.13), and finished fourth in the triple jump and sixth in the 55.

Connor Harris, Edward Little, sophomore, jumps

Won the Class A triple jump (43-73/4), and was second in the high jump and third in the long jump.

Orin James, Scarborough, senior, jumps/sprints

Claimed the Class A high jump championship (6-2), and finished second in the 55 hurdles and sixth in the pole vault.

Coach of the Year

Jorma Kurry, Falmouth

Boosted by five first-place finishes, the Yachtsmen also scored points in 11 events to win their fifth Class B championship in six years.

"Relax," he told his son. "Just relax."

Gary didn't overthink his final attempt at qualifying for the long jump finals at the Class A state championships. The Mt. Ararat sprinter didn't think about the fact he had just fouled on his first two jumps. He didn't think about overhauling his technique. And he never once thought about giving up.

Instead, Gary did exactly what his father told him.

"I sort of had to let everything go," recalled Gary, a junior. "When you think about it, it makes you so nervous, maybe a little more uptight. But I just put in my headphones, listened to some music and relaxed."

How did it work out?

"He (did) his best jump of the season," Mt. Ararat Coach Diane Fournier said.

The Maine Sunday Telegram's boys' indoor track and field MVP, Gary won Class A titles in three events: the long jump (22 feet, 11/4 inches), the 55-meter dash (6.62 seconds) and the 200 (22.93). His 30 points helped the Eagles finish second to Scarborough, their best finish ever.

"Mt. Ararat has never gotten that far before," said Gary, who went on to place fourth in the 300 and fifth in the long jump at the New England championships.

"It was great to see the whole team come together to win, or to come close to winning. The state team wasn't that big, but it meant a lot to see everyone come together and contribute."

The team, Gary explained, is like a community. Each person has a role and a responsibility on the team and contributes to a greater cause.

"You're pushing yourself, but you always have teammates pushing you, too," Gary said. "And being a part of a successful community, everyone's pushing each other to do their best."

And while Gary may blend in effortlessly with his teammates, Fournier credits Gary's work ethic for his success.

"A lot of it is his genetics," Fournier said. "But he works so hard. He might have that laid-back attitude, but he works so hard and it's made a big difference."

One example of Gary's work ethic: During Mt. Ararat's practices on the track, the coaches have each athlete run as far as he can in 50 seconds. Gary's goal was to run 400 meters -- a time that could place him among the top six in the event at both the Class A and B championship meets.

Now, Gary is preparing for outdoor track, where the distances will be longer and the number of competitors larger. Somehow, he still intends to find a way to relax.

"He's come a long way this winter," Fournier said. "I hope it carries over to the spring."

Staff Writer Rachel Lenzi can be reached at 791-6415 or at:


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