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ECS sprinter McKenzie Travis: Florida’s Fastest Trailblazer

Speed is in McKenzie Travis’ DNA. The daughter of school track athletes, Travis has been coached by her father since she was 4 years old. Coming off a stellar indoor season and motivated, partly, by an injury that interrupted her junior 12 months, Travis is racing toward a robust finish to her highschool profession before her next chapter begins on the University of South Carolina.

Track’s Best:
Who’re the Southwest Florida girls track and field athletes to look at in 2024? Travis’ rise to grow to be top-of-the-line sprinters in local history didn’t occur overnight – years of standing on podiums, but not at the highest, pushed her to enhance. Fueled by the need of a champion, she is the state’s top-ranked 100-meter runner.

McKenzie was all the time fast, in line with her father Jason Travis, however the intangibles are what set her apart. “She’s very determined,” he said. “There is a couple of women that she couldn’t beat and that kept her motivated and driven, and as she comes up, she knocks them off, so there’s not many which have ever beaten her that she hasn’t gotten back.”

An upward trajectory for Travis:
Though McKenzie didn’t all the time have the idea in herself, her father recognized her potential early on. “It was all the time there at the start,” he said. “You might see the speed.” By highschool, she was fully dedicated to the game, specifically the sprints. In her freshman 12 months at Fort Myers High, she won a pair of regional titles and finished second within the 100 meters.

Travis’ progress continued as a sophomore at Evangelical Christian School. On the Class 1A state meet, she was the runner-up within the 100, fourth within the 200, and helped the Sentinels to 3rd place within the 4×100 relay. Last 12 months felt like a turning point for Travis. “I did not have numerous confidence, but I believe running at greater meets and realizing that I’m placing really high and running really good times, it was like, ‘Wow I’m actually sort of good at this,’” she said.

Setting a private record of 11.39 seconds within the 100 meters, Travis was on pace for her first state title. Nevertheless, early within the postseason, she injured her hamstring, which prevented her from advancing to states in her important event. “It sucked since it was definitely, I feel like, my 12 months to sort of just show everyone what I can do and how briskly I actually am, but it surely is what it’s,” Travis said. “I’m excited to do it this 12 months.”

Travis didn’t let her disappointment keep her from putting the team first. Since she was healthy enough to compete, she contributed to ECS’s 4×100 relay team, which got here in third at states. “I didn’t need to be the one to allow them to down,” she said.

The Division I offers poured in for Travis, and he or she narrowed her selections all the way down to 4 schools: Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, and South Carolina. What helped seal the deal for Travis was when Tim Hall, the associate head coach at Kentucky, was hired at South Carolina last summer.

Hall’s resume is vast, having coached an Olympic Gold Medalist, five Olympians, a World Champion and silver medalist, a world record holder, two American record holders, 4 collegiate record holders, 11 NCAA Champions, 14 SEC Champions, and over 125 All-Americans. “I could tell that he really, really wanted me,” Travis said. “He’s proved himself through the years with all these athletes.”

‘My time is coming’:
Along with her college commitment out of the way in which, Travis just isn’t putting an excessive amount of pressure on herself in her senior season. She has even added an event, the long jump, and located quick success with several top finishes. “I did it a very very long time ago, but I’ve been bugging my dad to do it and he finally let me do it,” Travis said. An eye fixed-opening indoor season helped construct her confidence.

Running against the highest girls within the country on the VA Showcase in January, Travis began off her day with a disqualification within the 200 meters. She quickly put it behind her, running a U.S. record of 6.85 within the 55-meter prelims. A powerful start separated her from the pack and her legs were a blur the remaining of the way in which within the now-viral video. The subsequent day, she won the 60-meter finals. “I used to be really happy with myself actually,” Travis said. “I wasn’t expecting a time like that, especially so early within the season. So it sort of helped me realize I even have numerous potential this 12 months.”

Before big races, Travis said it is vital to maintain her mind calm. “I try to not think before I run or else I’ll have a nasty race,” she said. “But when I’m combating something that week, I’ll just tell myself right before I get within the blocks after which, after that, just got to run with confidence and trust in my training.”

Track is just about a year-round endeavor for Travis at this point. There’s about two weeks in the summertime when she’s not training. To get her mind off her athletic pursuits, Travis relaxes like several other teenager. “I like shopping. Shopping is fun – spending money, specifically his,” she said, referring to her father. “Bad habit,” Jason Travis added with fun.

Lee County has had several formidable female track athletes in its recent history. The Oliveira twins at ECS, Moriah and Sierra, thrived in middle-distance races and picked up quite a few state medals before heading off to Miami. Dunbar’s Lucheyona Weaver, now at North Carolina A&T, won a pair of state titles within the hurdles three years ago. But in terms of flat sprinting, Travis stands alone. “McKenzie’s a specimen all to herself,” said Ray Romero, the longtime Dunbar cross country coach.

It’s taken labor for Travis to achieve these heights, and her father has been by her side every lightning-fast step of the way in which. “Fun, difficult, sometimes difficult,” Jason Travis said. “But for essentially the most part, you are all the time there, even at practice, the highs and lows, so I’d say, being round her the entire time, it’s definitely an excellent adventure.”

Travis relishes the competition, knowing it will possibly bring out one of the best in her. Competing against Florida’s best on the Pepsi Relays in Gainesville last month, she won the 100 meters and later watched her future South Carolina teammates dominate within the sprints. Travis’ trajectory suggests her dreams of the Olympics and running professionally are inside her grasp. For now, she is embracing the moment, taking it one race at a time. “I just got to trust myself, cannot force or worry about anything, and just know that my time is coming,” she said.

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