After competing at the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships back in March, redshirt senior Emily Mackay became the first BU women’s cross country runner to earn All-American honors in the program’s Division I history. Because of her success with Binghamton this year and her status as one of two BU athletes this year to be honored as an All-American, Mackay has been named Pipe Dream’s 2020-21 Female Athlete of the Year.

“[Receiving All-American honors] makes me feel very accomplished,” Mackay said. “I had dreams of being an All-American since high school and it showed me that hard work really does pay off.”

Despite her dreams to become a collegiate All-American early in her running career, Mackay started off playing soccer and lacrosse before joining the track team.

“I started playing soccer in elementary school and once I got into middle school, my coaches made comments that I was fast and should try out for track,” Mackay said. “There wasn’t an aha moment where I said ‘Yeah I’ll do track,’ I just kinda tried it out.”

After joining the track and field team at Union-Endicott High School, Mackay began to find success in the 1500-meter and 3000-meter races on the track, setting the Section 4 record for both. In cross country, she qualified for the Nike Cross Country National meet in 2014.

Mackay started her college career at Oregon State but was forced to redshirt her freshman year due to an injury.

“There was a time I struggled with motivation during my freshman year of college after being injured and not really running for over a year,” Mackay said.

As a Bearcat, Mackay now holds school records in the mile, 1500-meter event, the 5000-meter race and was part of record-breaking 4×800 and distance medley relay teams. During her cross country season, she won the America East Cross Country championships and her 14th place finish at the national competition cemented her as the first BU female cross country athlete to compete at the event in the program’s history. Riding on the success of her cross country season, Mackay said she was optimistic heading into spring track and field.

“I was very excited and motivated coming off the cross country season,” Mackay said. “I had set really big goals for myself because I had thought that I had new potential that I was ready to tap into. It was tough mentally, the pressure, but my coaches have been super supportive and reassuring.”

Binghamton cross country head coach Annette Acuff played a critical part in Mackay’s development as a collegiate athlete.

“I can’t say enough great things about Coach Acuff,” Mackay said. “She’s a very intelligent coach, she knows what she’s doing and that really helps me to trust her training … She helps me mentally, she’s very reassuring and she helps me to be confident in myself.”

Mackay’s outdoor track and field season is not finished. She recently competed at the Toledo Rocket Invitational on Saturday, where she won her 5000-meter race with a time of 15:48.15 and simultaneously broke the previous school record for the event by almost a minute. Mackay qualified for the NCAA East Regional Meet in both the 1500-meter and 5000-meter events. Mackay plans to race in the 5000-meters due to her experience in the event both on the cross country course and on the track.

The NCAA East Region Meet is set to start at 11 a.m. on May 27 in Jacksonville, Florida.