After his older brother Michael, 24, starred at Ashland University as a 110-meter high and 400 intermediate hurdler while also running a leg of the 4-by-400 relay team, a second son of Marty and Laura McKenzie, Mitchell is fast making a name for himself in the track and field world at Bluffton University.
Perhaps best known as the point guard on the Plymouth basketball team that won 24 games when he and all-Ohio player Brook Turson were seniors, Mitchell ran cross country for two years at Mt. Vernon Nazarene College.
But, because that school doesn’t have a track team, he transferred to Bluffton University in the fall of 2012.
“Mitchell runs the 400 meter hurdles, the 800, and a leg of the 4x400,” said Marty McKenzie, a long-time basketball and track coach and district technology coordinator at Plymouth Local Schools. “The Bluffton team ran at Washington & Lee in Virginia last weekend with Mitchell finishing second in his heat in the 400 meter hurdles. His time of 60.1 was less than a second off the time it takes to make him an All-Ohio qualifier.
“I see him making that qualifying time easily once he gets outside on a regular basis. The 400 is his race out-of-doors,” he added.
McKenzie said staying healthy is everything when it comes to track.
“Michael had his shot at a high conference finish his senior year at Ashland, but when he pulled a hamstring early in his senior year, he literally hopped through the final weeks of his college career,’’ McKenzie said. “He placed sixth and seventh, respectively, at the conference championships his junior and senior years. Had he been healthy, he would have placed a lot higher.”
Michael, 24, is employed by Hilton Hotels chain and works in New York City.
The indoor track season recently finished at Bluffton (NCAA Division II).
The team has had two outdoor meets to date, one at Muskingum College and the other in Virginia.
Mitchell interned last summer at Expolinc, a signage firm based in Marengo, Ohio.
The other two members of the family are still students at Plymouth.
Megan is a senior who was a basketball and football cheerleader.
She will attend Tiffin University and next week will try out for that university’s cheerleading squad.
Youngest son, Matthew, is a freshman and Plymouth. He also runs track with his strong suit be the 1600.
Meanwhile, Marty, the 52-year old now coaches at Gilead Christian High School in Mount Gilead, Ohio.
In addition to being the boys’ basketball and track coach, he also handles the duties of athletic director at the small high school.
“We won two basketball games this winter so we were competitive,” McKenzie said. “The future looks bright, especially in that sport, because I had an eighth-grade team that went 13-3 and all eight of those young men will join my high school program that lost just two seniors. That will give me a 14-player roster and allow the school to field a jayvee team for the first time.
“I have 22 out for track and for the first time will field a full golf team,’’ he added. “Our boys’ cross country team will be very good as will be our girls’ volleyball team. We also have boys’ and girls’ bowling teams. These young men and women are very versatile. Three of my basketball players bowled and two of the seven boys out for cross country played golf. This fall we will field full boys’ and girls’ cross country teams, a girls’ volleyball team and a boys’ golf team.”