The distance runner just closed out a strong high school career on the track. Macknair qualified for the state meet on a number of occasions, turning in some strong performances, particularly during his senior year. He was a three-time qualifier in XC, medaling during his junior and senior year. This past fall, he placed 8th at Hershey.
He was a two-time indoor state meet qualifier. Outdoors, he qualified for states at Ship every year of his career. In the spring, Macknair ran a terrific states race in the Class AAA 3200 meters. He placed second in 9:07.88 to earn state silver.
Macknair, a Shippensburg University recruit, reflected on his high school career for PennTrackXC.
My most memorable race was the Mid-Penn 3200 my Sophomore year. It was my first major win of my running career and was the moment where I started to elevate my training and take running more seriously.
Where did you face your biggest competition?
The biggest competition I faced throughout the years was at Penn Relays this past Spring. I faced a lot of out of state guys who I was unfamiliar with that were much better than I was used to racing.
Out of all your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
Finishing 2nd in the AAA 3200 my senior year in my final race. I went in seeded 18th and PR'ed by 23 seconds. I wasn't expected to even be in medal contention, but I was able to place 2nd. I remember coming down the homestretch and thinking "I have a chance at passing Dan McGoey" and I was able to finish my career with my best ever finishing kick. I passed him and ended my career on a high note.
If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
I would have gotten more serious about the sport earlier. I didn't start getting really serious until the middle part of my sophomore year.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
The most difficult obstacles that I had to overcome were injuries and illnesses. I broke my hip my Sophomore year and missed a lot of time and that hip has never been the same since. I then contracted Lyme's Disease my Junior year of XC and ran through that entire season and didn't have a good race until states where I placed 18th. I then broke my ankle the week before states my Junior year and I ran on it at states the following week and medaled in the 4 X 800. I ended up then injuring it more and missed half of my summer training as it was put in a boot to heal. My joints have become significantly weaker with my Lyme's Disease as well, so I have needed to do much more strength work and stretching the past two years.
What will you miss the most?
I will miss the early morning practices over Christmas break. Just out running on the backroads with my teammates. We would get five kids to come but they were the best 5 kids to be with in the World. The winter mornings were the most peaceful. Just us out on the roads, no traffic, no noise. Just the snow falling and the cold. We would tell jokes, sing, and just make memories. We would then come back to the school and play ultimate frisbee and then sit in a circle and stretch and talk. These were the simplest times in my entire life, but they were also the best times. I won't remember the races or the medals forever, but I will always remember the great memories and time spent with my teammates.
Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
Running is different from other sports. In basketball you need height, in football you need size and power, other sports are similar in the fact that you need specific attributes to be successful. Running isn't this way. Great runners come in all shapes and sizes. It's not who has the best arm, it's who works the hardest. You get good at running by showing up every day consistently and working hard. I always use the "dragon and brick" analogy. Think of yourself as a runner. Every time you complete a training run or strength session, you earn a brick. You slowly build up those bricks into a wall. Your competition is a dragon. The more bricks you have, the more prepared you are to take on the dragon (your competition). The final thing is the other 22 hours of the day when you aren't training. Those are the hours when the elite separate themselves from the others. Are you eating healthy, are you stretching, are you watching film, are you reading about running, are you getting better? My goal going into every summer was to out train every other runner in Pennsylvania. Outwork everyone without getting hurt and you will see yourself winning again and again and at the top of every podium.
How have your coaches influenced your performances and life goals overall?
My High School Coach Greg Loht has been the most influential person in my life for a long time. He was there for me anytime I needed him. He was there for practices on holidays, sub-zero winter mornings, summer mornings and evenings, and any other time that I needed him. He became my best friend and my mentor on and off the track. He loaned me books about running, injury-prevention tools, and taught me the purpose of everything that I did in terms of training. He also taught me the meaning behind every workout, every stretch, and every strength exercise. Anytime I was injured, he would fix it. My Senior year, he would stay after practice for an extra 30 minutes everyday to roll out my legs and stretch my hip flexors. He always knew what was best for me and what to say. I always would ask him before every race, "What's my strategy for today?" and he would always know what would work best for me in any situation. He also was great because he coached every kid with 100% commitment whether they ran a 1:51 800 or a 3:30 800. Going down to states with him was always a great experience and I will never forget going to breakfast with him on the morning of a state final and just talking race strategy. I will miss him a lot but I know that Mifflin County will be in god shape for years to come though as long as he is coaching.
What are your post-high school plans?
I will attend Shippensburg University where I will be majoring in secondary education in the field of social studies. I will also be a member of their cross country and track and field teams. I hope to become a history teacher after graduating from college and I also hope to become a cross country ad track and field coach and build up my program to have a reputation for being strong in the distance races. I also hope to be happy and have a dog and a yard and live the American dream.
I Would Like to Shoutout my Coaches (Greg Loht, Dick Yearick, Jenn Freed), for being there and guiding me six days a week for four years in both running and all other things through life. I would also like to shoutout teammates Hunter Packard, Mason Schomaker, Dylan Kurtz, Katie Kline, Noah Bowers, Morgan Robinette, Lauren Kuykendall, Skylar Ciccolini, and others who have been the bright spot of my life for so many years. I would also like to shoutout the friends that I have made from other schools that I have made like Hayden Hunt, Garret Baublitz, and Rachael Spencer for always making me smile. I would also like to shoutout my dog Sadie and my parents for supporting me as well.