In many ways, Mackenzie Shell is living her dream.
It would be understandable if the Port Huron Northern graduate had to pinch herself each and every day to make sure she wasn’t dreaming. Shell has been a freshmen sensation at the University of Oklahoma and things appear to be getting even better.
If qualifying for the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend wasn’t good enough, Shell has even more surprising news to celebrate. Shell was rated as the No. 84 female pole vaulter in the world by Vaulter Magazine. Shell is one of the youngest participants on the list.
“I was really surprised,” Shell said. “I was looking up and down the list to see names I was familiar with. It’s really surprising.”
Shell set a new University of Oklahoma women’s indoor pole vault record (14 feet, half an inch) on her third jump for the school. She has continued to progress in the time since and recently placed sixth at the Big 12 Indoor Track and Field Championships by jumping 13 feet, 00.75 inches.
Earlier this season she won the pole vault competition at the Texas A&M Quadrangular (13-09.25) and won the pole vault event at the J.D. Martin Invitational to set the program and meet record.
Now she will travel Alabama this weekend for the Indoor Championships.
“It’s really been fun,” Shell said. “Especially since I have been to so many players and experienced such big meets. It’s been fun hanging with my teammates and practicing together. It has been an entirely different experience.
“For the national championships this week it’s the top 16 in the country and I am happy to be able to go. I think it’s awesome. I have been to nationals in high school. But this is even bigger. This is a really big deal for me. It is showing me all of my hard work is paying off and also where I can get to if I keep working hard.”
Shell hopes to be at her best on Saturday and take yet another big step forward in her athletic career.
“I think the world ranking is cool and I didn’t even realize I was that highly ranked,” Shell said. “I think I can move up that list. What put me on it was my very first jump.
“I don’t realize how fast I have gotten. I’m always reaching for the next height. I think it’s awesome to come from Port Huron and now be down here in Oklahoma. It has been a unique experience with everyone back at home still supporting me.”