Most agree that in the world of athletics the events which takes the most time, and requires the most pain are those of the long distance runner.
To be a state, national, or Olympic champion takes incredible dedication and years of sometimes excruciating preparation.
At Monticello High School this year there is a senior who has paid the price and has won more state championships in her chosen sport than anyone in school history. Her name is Macee Nielson. She is the daughter of Ron and LeaAnn Nielson.
To date she has won seven state championships. She holds the state record in the 3,200-meter run, with a time of 11:04. One of her goals is to go below eleven minutes at the State Track Meet next May. She is also shooting for the 1,500-meter championship.
I asked her what her idea of a perfect day would be: Her succinct and immediate reply: “Run two miles in under 11 minutes.”
In the recent cross country championships at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City, this Lady Buckaroo speedster not only won the state champion in 1A, but she posted a faster time over the same course than the 2A, 3A and 5A individual female state champions. In other words, she was the best in the State of Utah in four of the five classifications. She trounced all classifications but one in the entire state. How long has it been since an athlete from a 1A school has excelled to that degree? Never, in my memory.
And it is paying off. She has many scholarship offers, but has narrowed her choices to the University of Utah, Utah State University, Utah Valley University and Southern Utah University. It appears she wants to stay close to home.
Along with her many other talents, Macee Nielson has worked hard to maintain a 3.87 grade point average. She plans to major in chemistry in college.
I visited with Scott Boyle, who writes the Sportshorts column for the San Juan Record, and who has been the man on the scene of many of her greatest victories.
“Tell me in a succinct sentence what makes Macee Nielson tick,” I asked.
“Can’t do it in a sentence or a paragraph or a page,” is Boyle’s reply,” but I will tell you she is the real deal. She is smart, focused and fearless. She knows what it takes to be the best and she is willing to pay the price. That is a rare commodity for today’s couch potato kids.”
Boyle continues, “She has maturity beyond her years. For example, there is a young lady in Blanding named Katie Hiatt who is in Macee’s class as a runner. Three years ago when Macee won State in Cross Country as a Freshman she met Katie. Didn’t matter that she is from Blanding. Didn’t matter that Katie is as good or better than Macee some days. They became fast friends and Macee is as thrilled for Katie when she wins races as she is for herself. I think Katie has made Macee a better runner and vice-versa. That tells me volumes about the maturity and character of both girls.”
What are Macee’s favorite things to do, I queried? “Well,” she replied, “I don’t have much time in my life between school, church and running, but if I do find an hour or two once in a while I enjoy music and reading and I love to watch baseball on TV.” Probably gets the latter from her old Dad, who has been known to hang out around a baseball diamond.
I asked her if she plans to slow down enough some day to let a boy “catch” her.
“Ha, ha, ha,”…we will just have to wait and see.”
My last question was “is there anything else you would like to tell me?”
“I would like to thank both the Monticello and Blanding Communities. I have received so much support and encouragement from both places and it has really meant a lot to me,” she replied.
Keep your eye on this lithe, lovely speedster. I get the feeling she is just getting warmed up and that she will bring many more sterling accomplishments to San Juan County and Monticello High School to add to her already remarkable resume.
Some day, my claim to fame may be that I once lived on the same street as Macee Nielson.