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Finding success through the pain

Burbank's Mckenzie Paul wasn't about to let a foot injury derail what turned out to be a prosperous senior campaign

July 27, 2011|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com
(Raul Roa Staff Photographer )

A nagging health problem persisted once again for McKenzie Paul. The injury arose for the second time in nearly six months.

Paul encountered the pain from a tendon in her right foot last fall while competing for the Burbank High girls' cross-country team. It resurfaced just before the start of the track and field season, leaving Paul — who was born with flat feet — to ponder her options.

"The injury to my tendon just kept bothering me and I figured what's the point in running? " said Paul, a senior. "I looked at all of the different things and decided to take two to three weeks off before the start of track and field.

"I came in wanting to have a good season and set some records. I struggled at the beginning of the season, and then I started getting healthy toward the middle of the season."

Because of her injury, Paul didn't win many races during Burbank's first several dual meets.

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With the pain having subsided, Paul began to pick things up and run the type of races she expected. By the time the Pacific League finals had concluded, Paul won two league titles and advanced to the CIF Southern Section Division I finals at Cerritos College in Norwalk.

It's because of those accomplishments that Paul has been voted the 2011 All-Area Girls' Track and Field Athlete of the Year by the writers and editors of the Glendale News-Press, Burbank Leader and La Cañada Valley Sun.

Paul won crowns in the 800- and 1,600-meter races at the league finals at Arcadia High on May 6. The championship in the 800 was her third straight. She also advanced to the CIF finals in the 800.

She finished first in the 800 in a time of 2 minutes 15.30 seconds to secure her third straight league championship in the event. She began her day with a win the 1,600 (5:05.54).

"I saw my times starting to drop [going into the league finals]," said the Sacramento State-bound Paul, the reigning All-Area Girls' Cross-Country Athlete of the Year. "I went out there and gave it my all.

"I didn't want to psyche myself out, so I had to believe in myself."

After basking in the spotlight of dominating her races in league, Paul headed to Trabuco Hills High to participate in the Division I prelims. Paul fared rather well In the 800, as she ran 2:14.30 for third in her heat and eighth overall to move on to the Division finals. In the 1,600, she clocked 5:05.51 for third in her heat and 11th overall and was the second alternate.

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