Going the distance: McKenzie Long, Ironton native, prepares for U.S. Olympic Trials

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, June 19, 2024

By Joseph DiCristofaro
The Ironton Tribune

Former Ironton resident and Ole Miss Track and Field athlete McKenzie Long collected three national championships in under two hours for the Rebels at the 2024 NCAA Outdoor Championships and is preparing for the U.S. Olympic Trials.
“I’m very proud; she is one of my several grandchildren. She’s pursuing her goal to run track. She has always been a person that’s focused,” said Isaac Glover, pastor of the New Jerusalem Church and Long’s grandfather.
The three titles Long took back to Oxford, Mississippi, were two individual victories in the women’s 100 and 200-meter dash, and she was a key piece on the 4×100-meter relay team.
Long’s time of 21.83 seconds in the 200-meter dash carried historical implications; she is the second fastest in college history and 24th best all-time in women’s track and field history worldwide.
In the 100-meter dash, Long brought home her first career NCAA individual title and the first in Ole Miss Track and Field history in an event shorter than the 800-meter. As Long readied for the event, she realized her blocks were already set.
“I literally went out on the blocks, and my blocks setting was already set. You usually have to fix your blocks before you get into your lane,” Long said in a press conference following the historic day. “But, the 100 is the event where I’m less comfortable in compared to the 200.”
“When I went out there and the block was already in my settings, I was shook. I was like Mom; this is instantly you. That’s never happened to me before,” Long said.
Long referenced in the press conference her mother Tara Jones who passed away during the indoor season.
“It affected her with great sorrow. She keeps her mom close to her mentally, physically and spiritually,” Glover said. “At this point, she doesn’t think her mom is outside of her life. She’s got a place for her mom in her heart, mind and attributes.”
“I talk to my mom every day. Everything that I do is for her,” Long told ESPN’s John Anderson. “And in those blocks right there, I said ‘Mom, this is my last race, just push me through,’ and she did.”
Long has dominated out-of-the-blocks at many different levels since her days of running for the Ironton Middle School track team. Long finished her high school track career at Pickerington High School Central in Columbus, Ohio, where she holds the records for the 60m, 100m and 200m dash.
Dominance on the track continued through her collegiate career, first at North Carolina State, and more recently at Ole Miss. While competing at a record-setting athletic level Long also earned two bachelor’s degrees from NC State and a master’s degree at Ole Miss.
“She doesn’t get distracted by a lot of things that were not in her destiny. She stayed focused as a child,” Glover said.
Long was also named as one of the four finalists for the Class of 2024 Honda Sport Award for Track and Field.

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