Track and field runner McKenzie Paul probably surprised some in the Pacific League when she captured a league championship in the girls’ 800 meters three years ago as a sophomore.
She continued to impress during her junior year in 2010 when the Burbank High standout secured her second straight title in the race.
As a senior this past season, the pressure was on Paul, as she was the heavy favorite to again take home a championship in the 800. The senior didn’t disappoint, she pulled off the impressive and rare triple by taking first place in the league finals at Arcadia High.
Paul added to her league-championship haul last spring when she also nailed down a title in the 1,600.
“What is always more important to me is to get the best time that in can in a race,” Paul said. “That’s more important to me than winning a league championship. But it feels nice to be able to win the 1,600 and come back and win in the 800.”
Paul went on to advance to the CIF Southern Section Division I finals in the 800.
But track and field wasn’t the only sport in which Paul shown brightly during the school year.
The Bulldog ran to some impressive results during the cross-country campaign, winning the Burbank All-City Meet and placing fourth in the Pacific League finals among a talented field.
Paul also advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I finals.
In the wake of her fine efforts, Paul was named the All-Area Girls’ Cross-Country Runner of the Year as well as the All-Area Girls’ Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
It is because of her success in both sports that Paul has been named the 2010-11 Leader Female Athlete of the Year.
In track and field, Paul was set on doubling in the 800 and 1,600. She finished first in the 800 in a time of 2 minutes 15.30 seconds. She began her day with a win the 1,600 (5:05.54).
“I saw my times starting to drop [going into the league finals],” said the Sacramento State-bound Paul. “I went out there and gave it my all.
“I didn’t want to psyche myself out, so I had to believe in myself.
After basking in the spotlight of dominating her races in league, Paul headed to Trabuco Hills High to participate in the Division I prelims. Paul fared rather well in the 800, as she ran 2:14.30 for third in her heat and eighth overall to move on to the division finals. In the 1,600, she clocked 5:05.51 for third in her heat and 11th overall and was the second alternate.
Paul, Burbank’s lone athlete to qualify for the finals, capped her season by placing eighth in the 800 in 2:15.92.
Paul began her senior season with a victory in her first race. Running at the annual Burbank All-Area Meet at Griffith Park, Paul won the competition in 19:29.
In late September, Paul ran the fastest three-mile time in Burbank girls’ history, finishing in 17:46 to finish second in the gold race of the Woodbridge Invitational.
In the Pacific League finals in November, Paul had a solid effort in finishing fourth (19:19.94). She also helped her Burbank squad to a third-place league finish and a trip to the CIF prelims.
In the preliminaries at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, the Burbank squad wasn’t able to move on, but Paul was, coming in sixth in her heat with a time of 18:12.
Running in wet, rainy conditions at the CIF Southern Section finals at Mt. SAC, athletes had to race on a 5-kilometer rain course. Unfortunately for Paul, she wasn’t able to move on to state competition, as she placed 11th in 18:44, missing qualifying for state by just five seconds.
“That was tough, missing going to state by five seconds,” Paul said. “I was able to improve a lot and I can’t get down on myself for that…I did give it my all, and I ended up having a great year all around.”