Waccamaw’s MacKenzie Arnold signs with Francis Marion

  • Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Chris Sokoloski/Times Surrounded by her family and members of the Waccamaw High School community, MacKenzie Arnold signed to run for Francis Marion University on Friday morning.

Waccamaw High School’s MacKenzie Arnold signed to run cross country for Francis Marion University on Friday morning.

“It’s a big milestone in my life,” Arnold said. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little girl. I wanted to be a collegian athlete and it’s finally here.”

Arnold has also wanted to attend Francis Marion for a long time. Her coach, Brian White, helped make that happen. He ran for Francis Marion from 1986-88.

“When she told she was interested in running in school and she mentioned Francis Marion, I said ‘let me make a few phone calls for you, I think I can help you out there,’” White said.

Arnold started running track for the county’s Parks and Recreation Department as a third-grader and joined Waccamaw High’s team as a seventh-grader.

“MacKenzie has really stuck with everything, she’s resilient; she really started to peak in her last year,” White said. “She ran her fastest time this year as a senior, so we were really excited about that. And hopefully when she goes on to Francis Marion it’s going to be a great experience for her there too.”

Arnold helped the Waccamaw girls to a Region VII-AA cross country championship in October and a fourth-place finish in the state cross country championships in November.

She also helped the Lady Warriors finish second in the 2013 Lower State track and field championships, win the 2012 Region VII-AA championship, and she won 2012 region and Lower State titles in the 4x800 relay.

Arnold is following in the footsteps of her parents, who both run. Her younger sister, Briley, is also on the Waccamaw High team.

“She’s incredible,” Arnold said.

Arnold’s college goals are to continue to improve her personal best times.

She expects the biggest transition in college will be the tougher competition.

“[There will be] a lot more faster girls, more experienced girls,” she said. “That will definitely be a challenge.”

“I think MacKenzie is really well prepared for it because we have a pretty intense training program here,” White said. “We start in June and go all the way from June to November. … She should adapt very well and be ready.”

Arnold had some simple advice for her younger teammates who want to continue their athletic careers in college.

“Keep a balanced diet of work ethic … and training,” she said. “Just work hard at everything you do.”

Arnold plans to major in French and Spanish and minor in German at Francis Marion with an eye on becoming a translator.

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