It was only fitting that Marcus McKenzie, Parker Kingston and Cody Hagen were three of the biggest winners of the weekend’s Utah high school track and field state championships.
After all, the three seniors were among the biggest wins for BYU football in the recent recruiting cycle. The finish line they each crossed as state champions Saturday lay in the shadows of LaVell Edwards Stadium, their future football home where the speedsters will run wild as part of BYU’s Big 12 receiving corps.
“They’re so awesome, and so is the type of bond that we all have,” McKenzie said of his fellow track stars Kingston and Hagen. “They’re so fun to be around because they just have fun playing the game. I’m really excited to play with them in the future and see where we go.”
Despite a recent hamstring injury that sidelined the St. George product from three events over the weekend, McKenzie won his second straight 4A state title in the 100-meter dash with a 10.67-second mark. McKenzie — a 4A Second Team All-State football selection out of Pine View high school — had previously run a 10.58 in 2021.
“I originally wasn’t going to run because of my hamstring, but I wanted to put something out there for my team,” McKenzie said. “I just gritted my teeth and ran with it anyway. I’m glad I was able to do that.”
McKenzie and his twin brother, Dominique, initially committed to play football at the University of Virginia, but once Bronco Mendenhall resigned as head coach of the Cavaliers in December, the McKenzies reopened their recruitment and signed with BYU two days later.
The McKenzies’ father, Brian, played running back at BYU from 1996-97 and ran for a career sum of 1,970 yards and 23 touchdowns. Their mother, Salote, was a four-year track athlete at BYU as well. The twins will have the chance to be part of both programs at BYU upon completing their two-year LDS missions, where early graduate Dominique is currently serving in Atlanta and Marcus hopes to begin serving this summer.
“We’re gonna go out there and kill it, and our speed is definitely gonna help,” McKenzie said. “With the type of people that BYU is bringing in to help build that speed, it’s just dope. We’ll have fun in the Big 12.”
The McKenzie twins will be joined by Kingston and Hagen of Roy and Corner Canyon, respectively, who took turns besting each other in the 6A 100m and 200m championships Saturday. Kingston clinched the 100m crown in a dramatic photo finish, clocking in at 10.53 seconds just ahead of Hagen and BYU target Smith Snowden of Skyridge. In the 200m, Hagen earned his second straight state title with a 20.97 mark in what he called his “comeback race.”
“It’s a whole different thing when you compete with those guys, and it’s way more fun having to race against them,” Hagen said. “It pushes you day in and day out. Each day in practice, you’re thinking how you can get faster than them.”
In addition to his track accolades, Hagen was named Utah’s 6A Mr. Football in 2021 after hauling in 89 receptions at Corner Canyon for 1,805 yards and 23 touchdowns. Hagen will join the Cougars in 2024 after his mission, planning to leave for San Bernardino, Calif., in July.
While pushing in practice to outrun them, Hagen considers McKenzie and Kingston friends more than rivals, looking forward to sharing the field and putting up points together as a group. “It’s really fun to compete with them, especially when they’re such good dudes.”
Kingston excelled as a dual-threat quarterback at Roy, passing for 2,629 yards and 24 touchdowns while racking up another 2,066 yards and 32 scores on the ground.
“We have a really good relationship,” Kingston said of his fellow BYU signees. “There’s a huge rivalry between us because we want to be the fastest, but once that’s all said and done, we’re brothers and we’ll be brothers for life once we start playing with each other.”
The 2020 6A All-State Honorable Mention selection will switch to receiver and join BYU’s program this summer, getting a head start on McKenzie and Hagen in Cougar blue. However, given their literal track record, don’t expect the pair of soon-to-be missionaries to be behind for long when the time comes to return to Provo.
“It feels good to go into the Big 12 and have a bunch of us slow white guys running around to pick apart defenses,” Kingston said with a smile. “We’ll see what happens. ... I love these guys.”