Over the weekend, redshirt senior Emily Mackay earned All-American honors in not just the women’s mile, but in the women’s 3K event against the nation’s best competitors. The two accolades from the Bearcat’s showing at the 2022 Division I Indoor Track and Field Championships bring her total up to four All-American honors, tied for the most in Binghamton school history with former track and field athlete Erik van Ingen.
Mackay earned her first two All-American honors in 2021. Her first-ever recognition was at the 2021 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships in March, and her second came at the subsequent NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships. She was named first-team All-American at both meets.
On the first day of the meet in Birmingham, Mackay stepped onto the oval for the women’s mile preliminaries. Heading into the meet, Mackay held the fastest mile time in the country of 4:30.94 which she established in February. However, Mackay was unable to replicate her nation-leading performance, running a time of 4:36.34 to take 12th in the 16-woman field.
“No one was running their [personal best] in that heat, everyone was just trying to run strategically and not overly exert themselves,” said Binghamton head cross country coach Annete Acuff. “[Mackay] certainly did run fast earlier in the season, but that wasn’t the goal going in … [It was] just to make sure she made it through.”
Mackay was pipped at the line by another athlete, leaving her one-hundredth of a second from qualifying for the final in the women’s mile event.
“[Mackay] had no idea anyone else was close,” Acuff said. “Her goal was definitely to try and make sure she was in the top three because then you don’t leave anything to chance … That can happen at an elite level because everyone is good … It’s tough getting beat at the line.”
In the first round of the women’s mile, seven of the athletes who finished above Mackay broke the previous Birmingham CrossPlex facility record time of 4:35.62 set in 2016. However, no athlete in either the women’s mile preliminaries or final came within two seconds of Mackay’s personal best in the event that she accomplished in February. The women who finished eighth and above in the final earned first-team All-American honors, while Mackay’s placement earned her a second-team accolade.
“[Mackay] was pretty disappointed, it’s unfortunate,” Acuff said. “There’s nothing she could do about it. Luckily, she had the 3K that she had a chance to compete in as well, so we were really glad that she entered in the 3K.”
Mackay was less experienced competing in the 3K event on a national level. Going into the race, the Bearcat was ranked ninth in the nation with a 3K time of 8:54.45.
“This was her first time competing in that event at the indoor national meet,” Acuff said. “You can’t replicate a national-level competition until you get there … It was a very gritty, tactical 3K on the women’s side. That’s usually not about running fast times … [Mackay] has very little experience racing in the 3K as a whole.”
The 3K race included four members of the nationally ranked NC State team. While Mackay made early attempts to stay in contention with the rest of the field, the Bearcat soon fell behind as the race drew to a close. She registered a time of 9:11.29 to take 15th and earn second-team All-American honors.
“There was a lot of movement and a lot of tactical racing, and she kept herself in it as long as she could,” Acuff said. “Unfortunately, [Mackay] ran out of gas the last quarter, but she worked hard to keep herself in it as long as she could.”
Mackay concludes her indoor season with both nationally ranked times in the 3K and mile, as well as the 5K and 800-meter race. In the 5K, the Bearcat is ranked 20th with her time of 15:44.93 from back in December of 2021, and in the 800-meter event she ended the season in ninth overall with a BU program record of 2:03.49.
“Her times were fantastic this season and she gained a lot of experiencing racing in some elite fields,” Acuff said. “We didn’t necessarily expect her to run as fast as she did … From a speed [and] fitness perspective, she had a fantastic indoor season … Outdoors, we’ll focus with the [800-meter race] and the 1500, at least that’s the plan right now, but she won’t compete until later in April.”
While Mackay is slated to make a late appearance for the Bearcats during the outdoor track and field season, the remainder of the team is scheduled to kick off its competition at the Raleigh Relays from Thursday, March 24 to Saturday, March 26 at the Paul Derr Track Facility in Raleigh, North Carolina.