Brigham Young a family affair for 800 champ Mackie
DES MOINES, Iowa -- Nachelle Mackie's family ties are reflected in her jersey and her jewelry.
The junior from Brigham Young won the women's' 800-meter run Friday at the NCAA Track and Field Championships at Drake Stadium in 2:01.06.
Mackie, who grew up in Spanish Fork, Utah, set four state records while in high school and the big-time college track programs came calling. Mackie visited Oregon and Florida, but the choice of schools was not hers alone.
Her twin sister, Natalie Stewart, was along for the recruiting trips, and they decided to join their older sister, Diane Stewart, on the Cougars' roster. Mackie's parents, Hali and Lee Stewart, also attended Brigham Young.
Mackie ran Friday sporting the Cougars' familiar blue and white uniform as well as a piece of non-standard equipment: her wedding ring. She and husband James Mackie, also a BYU student, will celebrate their second anniversary June 22.
"Our hearts settled on BYU. I love it there," Mackie said.
Mackie, also the 800 indoor champion this season, made a mid-race change of tactics. She hadn't planned to take the early lead, but did so after seeing the a tight cluster of runners battling for position.
"It was getting a little clumpy and I thought, 'Oh, if I don't get up there, I'm going to be lost in the pack,' " she said.
It was a bit out of character for Mackie, who lists "organizing" as one of her hobbies in the Brigham Young media guide.
She had planned on Tennessee's aggressive runner, Chanelle Price, to take the early lead ("I don't like all that nonsense in the pack," Price said after Wednesday's 800 semifinal) but Price settled into second.
Price said her coach encouraged her to take the lead, but not to fight for it.
"She did all the work and I thought this was my chance to get her, but I just didn't have it that last 400," Price said.
Price came in third in 2:01.49; Charlene Lipsey of Louisiana State was second in 2:01.40.
Mackie said she had no idea what was going on behind her until she spun around after the finish line to check the scoreboard.
"When you're leading, you really have no idea what's going on behind you except for that little while when you can look at the Jumbo screen. Then you can evaluate where you are," Mackie said. "My legs were tightening up so bad [down the stretch]. When I looked at the time afterward and I saw 2:01, 2:01, 2:01, I thought they must have been right on my tail."
Team race: It couldn't be closer heading into the final day of the championships. Louisiana State and Oregon are tied for the team lead with 40 points. Three-time defending champion Texas A&M in 15th with 10 points. Eight events remain Saturday.