EIGHT FOR EIGHT: Mackenzie Johnston sprints past the competition for Charleston Cross-Country

During the final eight weeks of the spring semester, CisternYard Sports will be releasing a feature story each week on a student athlete at the College of Charleston that our sports staff thinks you should know. This week, we highlight junior MacKenzie Johnston from the men’s cross-country team.

MacKenzie Johnson led the Charleston cross-country team to an impressive 2013 season. Photo courtesy of CofCSports.com.

Mackenzie Johnston led the Charleston men’s cross-country team to an impressive 2013 season.
Photo courtesy of CofCSports.com.

If you have been paying attention to College of Charleston athletics this season, you could not have missed hearing about junior cross-country star Mackenzie Johnston.

Johnston, a Hilton Head Island, S.C. native and a competitive runner since seventh grade, sprinted past the competition during the 2013 season as a member of the men’s cross-country team.

With the school entering a new conference, veteran leadership and experience was a necessity for a smooth transition and Johnston fulfilled that role, making a name for himself along the way.

Johnston had quite the successful junior year at the College. At the Furman event this past season, he and teammate Adam Seften combined to break the school record in the 8k event. Johnston pointed to that moment as his most memorable experience as an athlete.

“We were running against some of the fastest runners in the southeast. All of our hard work paid off when we finished the race. I will never forget that feeling,” Johnston said.

Johnston noted that the competition and terrain in the CAA is definitely a step up from the Southern Conference.

“Competing in a new conference has led to us to competing against new competition in new places that I have never competed in before. The new courses were tough. I was not prepared for the hills since I have been training on the flat terrain of Charleston and in Hilton Head.”

Johnson was named CAA Runner of the Week in October. Photo courtesy of CofCSports.com.

Johnston was named CAA Runner of the Week in October.
Photo courtesy of CofCSports.com.

Although he claims he was not as prepared for the new terrain of the CAA, the conference named him “Runner of the Week” in October for strong performance at the Appalachian State Invitational. He led the Cougars with a time of 25:30.40 in the men’s 8K race, helping Charleston finish fifth overall.

The College has opened a lot of doors for Johnston. Cross-country has given him an outlet to excel and make a name for himself, but he also shines in the classroom as finance major in the business school.

“Cross-country has added to my overall college experience by giving me a chance to compete while being a student. I have been able to train and participate in the sport that I love while working to earn my degree and focus on a career in Finance. I believe running cross-country has enhanced my college experience.”

Impressively enough, Johnston has accepted a prestigious internship at Merrill Lynch this summer, something he considers to be one of his biggest accomplishments during his time at Charleston.

Johnston says that cross-country is his favorite part of being at the College, especially competing with his teammates. From long runs during practice to extensive travel in the CAA, he spends most of his time with his fellow runners, but that does not bother him a bit.

“They are not only my teammates but they are my best friends. We all have fun at practice and it makes running more enjoyable.”

Cross-country does not seem to be just a college pastime for Johnston. The three-time high school all-state selection aims to continue running competitively after college and keep cross-country as a key part of his life.

“My future plans post graduation include continuing to compete competitively. I hope to be able to break 14:20 in the 5k and break 4:00 in the mile. Eventually I would like to coach a high school team in my free time and give back to the sport that has helped me.”

In the meantime, Johnston still has one more year remaining at Charleston and he has plans to make the most of his final collegiate season.

“For my senior year I would like to focus on the development of the team. I would like to have 5 guys run under 26:00 in the 8k and we can achieve this by working hard over summer and during the season. Individually I would like to better myself and run a faster time than last season.”

The future holds promising things for Johnston, both academically and athletically. After a summer of learning the ropes of the financial industry, Johnson will be back in the fall of 2014 ready to lead the Cougars to even greater heights.

Check back next Friday for the third edition in our “Eight for Eight” series on women’s volleyball standout, Darcy Dorton.

Previous “Eight for Eight” editions: Sarah Boyle (Swimming)

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