* Dominique and Marcus McKenzie have exploded on the high school track and field scene in 2021
Photo Credit: MileSplit USA
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This may sound crazy, considering how fast Marcus McKenzie is actually going on a routine basis, but the Pine View (UT) High School junior can't seem to win a race at 200 meters.
Doesn't matter what he does.
He dropped a 21.56 in his first race of the year, in the prelims at the Snow Canyon Invitational on March 20. Loss. Then he followed up with an even better 21.28 in the finals. Loss. Next up was a 21.35 a week later. Loss.
Then came a wind-legal 21.10, the nation's sixth-fastest time of the spring season, on April 23. It was Utah's third-fastest time ever. Same story.
Perhaps we should tell you the twist at this point, that Marcus has a twin brother named Dominique who seemingly has the brother's number at the distance.
And yet, Dominique has a similar problem, too: He can't quite beat Marcus in the 100m consistently, either. He's lost three times at the distance, too.
All together, though, the McKenzie brothers are taking Utah by storm in 2021. And with still so much time left, including an opportunity to win their first state titles at the Utah State Track and Field Championships in May, expectations only seem to be growing.
"When my brother succeeds, we succeed," Marcus said recently. "I believe he feels the same. When he does great, we both do great. It's constantly uplifting. We're competitive and want to win. But at the end of the day, we're also teammates and brothers. That helps us a lot. Competitiveness pushes us, but if he's the only one who beat me, I'm good with that."
But while unmatched speed -- and a complete dusting of Utah competition -- is what makes this duo special, it's also presented questions as to where their future really lies: Both Marcus and Dominique are three-star football recruits who could pursue their dreams at the next level. Both have pocketed more than a handful of big-time college scholarship offers from some of the country's top programs.
"Football is a big part of our lives," Dominique said. "It's a whole bunch of fun to go out and beat people on the field, and winning feels great."
"Football and track go hand in hand," Marcus added later. "Track has helped me a ton with football speed. Football has taught me a lot of good lessons in how to work as a team."
Considering the timing, the parallels are obvious. With the NFL Draft arriving on Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio, one can't help but picture the possibility: That either of these athletes could one day toe the line of an NFL roster.
On the football field speed is king, and the McKenzie's have that ability in tall order.
Marcus owns a wind-aided 100m time of 10.55 and a wind-legal 10.63. Dominique has gone wind-legal times of 10.65 and 10.67.
In the 200m, Dominique has clocked a wind-legal US No. 3 and Utah state wind-legal record of 21.01 (+0.9). He's also posted times of 21.33 and 21.50. Marcus, as we said earlier, has gone 21.10, 21.28 and 21.56.
It seems quite clear that both, at least by the time they graduate in 2022, will put their names on the all-time record-books in Utah.
But the national leaderboard is also starting to call their name quite frequently, too.
This indoor season, Marcus finished with a US No. 6 200m time of 21.22 seconds -- the pair's first Utah state indoor record -- and was US No. 7 in the 60m at 6.77. Dominique was US No. 27 with a 6.88 and US No. 20 with a 21.62.
While both expected to improve this winter and spring, perhaps neither could have expected the extent of their success.
"I think it's super awesome and cool," Marcus said. "I wanted to come out and do well. I am definitely proud of where I am now. I want to continue to become even greater. But there's room to improve. I definitely could not have gotten here without our coaches and my brother to push me every day."
Now seems like a good time to say the McKenzie's aren't newbies.
Both athletes have actually been competing in the sport since 2017, when they were both roughly 13 years old.
As a freshman in 2019, Dominique reached the Utah State Track and Field Championships, finishing third in the 100m (11.14). He qualified for the finals of the 200m but did not start.
Meanwhile, an injury kept Marcus out after he injured his hip flexor running in the team's 4x100 at the region championships.
The COVID-shortened outdoor season in 2020 presented stops-and-starts, with some great highs and other near-misses. Marcus broke 11 seconds in the 100m twice, going 10.89 and 10.98 in two small meets in May and July, but he missed sub-22 in the 200m.
Dominique, meanwhile, saw more overall success, clocking times of 10.76 and 10.92 in the 100m and 21.41 and 21.87 in the 200m. But in some ways, he came up just short on a bigger stage, finishing eighth at the West Coast AAU Junior Olympics in July in 22.08.
Those performances were indicators of talent waiting to break through.
But it also would go a long way in saying that these moments motivated the brothers to reach higher heights in 2021. A combination of work ethic, coaching and execution on the track has granted each a grand entrance on to the national radar.
Both have been working to improve on their weaknesses.
"I've been focusing on the technical things to start," Dominique said. "When I turnover, when I pull my head up, I start to pull away from people. But if I get that start down, good things will happen."
That seems almost guaranteed. Marcus has goals of breaking the state record in the 100m, a wind-legal time of 10.49 (+1.8) by Dallin Draper in 2018 -- he'll likely have to go through his brother to achieve it.
Dominique, meanwhile, is looking to become the first Utah athlete to achieve a wind-legal sub-21 time in the 200m, an accomplishment that would officially make him one of the country's top recruits.
"Leave everyone in the dust," Dominique said. "It's something I've held on to. I have a chip on my shoulder."
Of course, there's another elephant in the room. When it comes to national reputation, Utah doesn't always get love in the sprints. But the twins are looking to change that.
A few years ago, the pair traveled with their Utah club team to a 7 on 7 football tournament in Florida. Once arrived, Dominique remembers getting some side-eyes from athletes from the bigger football states, especially those in the Sunshine State.
But then he and his brother went out and flat-out rocked it.
"Utah has ballers," Dominique said. "People don't always respect us, but we have to show them who we are and show them how we do it. People don't give Utah the credit it deserves."
The McKenzies are sure changing that.