2018 Senior Sendoff: Makennah Mills

Athlete Name: Makennah Mills

School: Northview High School

What was your most memorable meet and why? So many of the meets I've raced in have been memorable for me so it is very difficult to pick just one. I'd probably have to say either the Nike Chandler Rotary Elite Invitational in Arizona last year or the Outdoor State meet this year in Gulf Shores. Both of these meets gave me confidence and opened my eyes to the things I can accomplish if I put my mind to it.

Where did you face your biggest competition? I definitely faced a lot of my toughest competition at Arizona's State meets during my first few years of high school when I was younger and still developing as a runner. I also faced a lot of competition participating in summer track through USATF. I might have not placed very high in a lot of these races, but it was an honor to have qualified for them and it was valuable to have some experience running at that level that way I wasn't as nervous on the big stage in the future.

Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most and why? My biggest high school accomplishment race-wise is probably winning a state title in the outdoor 6A 1600m this year. This was my very first state title and accomplishing something so incredible in one of my last high school races meant a lot to me. However, I truly feel that my biggest accomplishment in general has been my persistence throughout the years and the fact that I have come such a long way from where I started.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your running career in high school? If I could do it over again with the knowledge and experience that I have now, I would know to keep working hard and trust my training. When I started running, I wasn't especially naturally talented, so I've had to work very hard to be where I am today. I would also be more confident and fearless when I run. After I decided before my races that I had nothing to lose and that I would leave it all out on the track I ended up improving tremendously. Additionally, I would also know how to deal with adversity and I would know that with time things can and will get better.

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome during your HS Track career? The most difficult obstacle that I've dealt with during my high school career was being stuck in a cross country and track program that grew to be very toxic to the point where it held me back from being successful and destroyed a lot of my self-confidence when I was a younger high school runner. Additionally, moving across the country from Arizona to Alabama for my senior year was no easy task. However, the support my coaches and teammates from Northview have shown me this past year is more than anything I could have possibly asked for and I am so blessed to have them in my life.

What will you miss the most? I will miss my team at Northview. This year they have welcomed me with open arms and I am so grateful for each and every one of them. I will also greatly miss the great friendships I have with runners on other teams in Arizona, Alabama, and everywhere in between. There is nothing quite like the camaraderie between runners, and that is one of my favorite aspects of cross country and track.

Do you have any advice for younger athletes? My advice to younger athletes would be most simply to always work hard and never give up. Results don't always come automatically and it often takes several meets, maybe even a few seasons, to get to where you want to be. Also, I would remind younger athletes to only allow a bad performance to get them down for a few minutes, and then move on. It is important to recognize that some days everything will come together just right and some days everything won't. But that's what keeps running interesting, and more importantly that's life.

What are your post-highschool or college plans? This fall I will be running NCAA Division I Cross Country and Indoor/Outdoor Track at Charleston Southern University in the beautiful town of Charleston, South Carolina. I also plan to study Kinesiology and make it into Physical Therapy school.

Who would you like to say thank you to?  I would like to say thank you to everyone who has shown me support the past seven years, including my family who has believed in me since day one. I'd like to thank the coaches that have helped me grow and develop when I was just starting out and my coaches and teammates at Northview this year who have been by my side my senior year. All of these people have definitely played a role into shaping me into the runner I am today and for that I am incredibly grateful.