Feb. 27, 2014
Focused Mcknight looks for MIAA successBy David Boyce
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Northwest Missouri State senior Lekiesha Mcknight went into the last indoor track meet before the MIAA Indoor Track Championship expecting to finish first in the shot put.
Mcknight easily won a week ago at the Nebraska Tune-up with a toss of 48-6.75.
Her confidence was high a week ago. She is feeling even better about herself after the win.
When the Northwest men’s and women’s track team travels to Missouri Southern in Joplin, Mo., Mcknight will be riding the bus expecting one thing: finish first in the shot put.
The three-day indoor conference championship runs Friday through Sunday.
“In conference, I am expecting to win conference in shot put and the weights are coming, too,” Mcknight said. “I want to be in the top three in weights.”
Northwest track coach Scott Lorek likes that attitude.
“Good, I am all for it,” he said. “She is all for it."
Mcknight already has provisional throws in the shot put and weight throws that qualifies her for the NCAA Division II Indoor Championships March 14-16 in Winston-Salem, N.C.
“She has been super, but she is not happy with it,” Lorek said. “She is throwing well. She is improving. She is on the national list and getting higher each week in both throws. If you ask her, she hasn’t thrown anything in a meet that she wants.”
Besides physical talent that has allowed Mcknight to throw so well in her final year of collegiate athletics, she has determination. It really showed up in her desire to return to Northwest after some academic difficulties that prevented her from competing last year.
Mcknight had to get herself back in good standing academically. It can be a very tough time for a student-athlete. Some may decide to quit altogether. Others might lean heavy on the school or athletic department to help them get academically eligible.
Mckinght took another route.
“When that all occurred, she requested no help from us in athletics to get back in school,” Lorek said. “She got herself back in and did everything she needed to do.
“She went part time to a junior college. She has changed her attitude. Her outlook on academics is different now than it was before. I am really proud of her that she did this and was self motivated. I think she had to come to grips with making those life decisions about what are you going to do. You can’t just float along.”
Mcknight realized that academics were going to help her.
“Basically, it taught me you have to be academically at a specific level to go on with life,” she said. “You have to work hard to get where you want to get. School is most important.”
Mcknight wants to be a nurse. She is majoring in psychology and is scheduled to graduate in December. After she earns her Bachelors Degree, she plans to go to a nursing program in Kansas City.
“I want to become a nurse because I want to help people,” she said. “Recently, my grandfather passed away. That motivated me more.
“I wanted to understand the machines in there and what is going on. Why are they doing this or that? It was a learning experience. I want to learn how to do that so I can help other people down the road.”
It is easy to see that Mcknight has learned plenty in competition and in the classroom since graduating from Raytown High School five years ago.
“When I was in high school, all I took was first,” she said. “College is another story. It is a lot more work, better people. It is just hard. You got to work hard and you will get where you want to be. This is my last year and things are flowing like I want them to. I am working hard.”
Mcknight gives credit to Lorek, throws coach Paul McKim and her teammates for putting her in position to where she can win a conference title.
“I really like my coach, Paul McKim,” she said. “He is a great leader. He is a pastor. He is a very humble person. I feel the love from the track team when I am out here.
“Coach Lorek always talks about you need to have your academics together first and then track is next. They care about our academics as well as our performances in events.”
Everything is in place for Mcknight to have a successful conference meet. She has the right mindset to win.
“I am very competitive,” she said. “I don’t like losing.”
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