For the second-consecutive year, redshirt senior Emily Mackay has been selected as Pipe Dream’s Female Athlete of the Year. Despite her early struggles during the 2021-22 stretch, she still managed to make an appearance at the 2021 NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships and walk away with two second-team All-America honors the following indoor track and field season.
“I was a little bit disappointed with my performance this cross country season,” Mackay said. “I definitely struggled in my training and racing didn’t feel as good as it felt the previous year. It was difficult mentally, and my goals shifted throughout the season because of that. I was okay with how I did at nationals, but obviously in ideal circumstances I think I could’ve performed a little better. I’m happy with how I handled the not-so-perfect circumstances.”
Mackay won her second-straight America East (AE) cross country title at the end of 2021, and she moved on to place third at the NCAA Division I Northeast Regional Meet. She took 52nd at the NCAA Cross Country Championships later that November, where she became the second female athlete in BU program history to compete at three NCAA championship meets. However, after traveling to the national indoor track and field championships in March of 2022, she grossed her fourth NCAA appearance.
“The indoor season was everything I wanted it to be,” Mackay said. “I ran a bunch of [personal records] in a bunch of events and once I got to the national championships I just didn’t perform to the best of my ability. That performance isn’t representative of what I think I’m capable of … I think it was a little bit of lack of experience and a little bit of nerves.”
Mackay competed in two separate events at the NCAA indoor championship. In the mile, she clocked in at 4:36.34 to take 12th in the first preliminary round. In the second race before the finals, Mackay took fifth and missed out on advancing by one-hundredth of a second, leaving her with second-team All-America honors. She also earned the same accolade in the women’s 3K, taking 15th with a time of 9:11.26. Mackay joins Erik van Ingen as the only two athletes in BU program history to have accumulated four All-America honors.
During her five-year span at Binghamton, Mackay said that her experience as a runner has imparted several different values that she’ll remember after graduating.
“There are several things running has taught me during my time at Binghamton,” Mackay said. “It has honestly shaped me as a person. It taught me to be both dedicated and to put my all into everything I do … It’s important to never take a race for granted as well. You never know [if] that race will be your last.”
Head cross country coach Annette Acuff has been with the Binghamton track and field program for over 22 years and has been present for the entirety of Mackay’s time at BU.
“[Acuff] stresses to be patient in training,” Mackay said. “That’s one of the main things I’ve been thankful for these past few years is how patient she’s been with me … She really values health and staying healthy.”
Mackay said her best moment at Binghamton was being part of the 2019 4×800-meter relay team that won the AE conference title and broke the previous school record, with a time of 9:02.67.
“My favorite moment was two outdoor [seasons] ago when we first won the women’s 4×800 [relay] at the outdoor [conference championship],” Mackay said. “After conferences in general is so fun because the team comes together, everyone’s cheering for each other, supporting each other and it’s the main meet where we come together as a team … I think there’s something really special about that.”
This outdoor season, Mackay has already begun to find her way onto the national stage. She is currently ranked 10th in the country in the 1500-meter event (4:13.57) and 22nd in the 800-meter race (2:04.47). She also set the meet record in the 800 at the 2022 AE Outdoor Conference Championships, and is set to compete at the 2022 NCAA East Region Meet later this month.
“I have a very good mindset going into the championship season,” Mackay said. “I feel very well prepared for regionals and I think I have a very good shot to make nationals … I’m feeling very optimistic and ready to go. I’ve learned a lot of important lessons throughout this year and I think it’s just going to help me in the end.”