Mackenzie Daffer

Northwest Missouri State senior and 2016 Sidney graduate Mackenzie Daffer (far right) pulls ahead of a few conference competitors during a home indoor meet earlier this season.

Photo courtesy Mackenzie Daffer

Mackenzie Daffer’s college track and field career came to a sudden end earlier this spring.

The 2016 Sidney graduate has competed for Northwest Missouri State track and field during her college career and lost most of her senior season because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Daffer competed in a few indoor meets for the Bearcats this winter. Her final meet was the MIAA Championships Feb. 28 through March 1 in Pittsburg, Kansas.

Daffer ran in the distance medley relay for the Bearcats in that meet. That will end up as the last race in what was a career that didn’t go as smoothly as she had hoped.

“I had a lot more planned for my journey at Northwest,” said Daffer. “I have learned time and time again my body isn’t as healthy as my mind and where I wanted to take it.”

Daffer suffered a concussion during her freshman season. She lost her junior year of outdoor track because of a back injury and now has lost her senior year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I was told right after my junior year of indoor that I wouldn’t be able to compete for a while,” said Daffer. “I have a grade 4 spondylolisthesis in my L4 and L5 (vertebrae), along with herniated discs and a pinched nerve.”

She was limited throughout her final indoor season and feels fortunate she was able to compete as much as she did.

“Each meet was a blessing,” said Daffer, “and I was so happy to toe the line as many times as I got the chance to.”

She was home with her dad and had just finished a run when she found out the season had been canceled.

“I was in my kitchen and received Snapchats from my senior teammates,” said Daffer. “I was getting ready to live stream them competing at nationals. I haven’t been able to see any of them since our last practice and that saddens me.”

Daffer hopes to stay active, but said the goal has to change now with no more college athletics in her future.

Academically, Daffer will finish her undergraduate work by presenting her research in July at the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Conference. She has been applying to physical therapy schools as well, a process that has slowed considerably over the last few weeks.

“The interviewing process is going to be done via Zoom,” said Daffer, “and the wait to hear about each school’s plans moving forward is something I am waiting on. I do plan to continue my research if I’m allowed the opportunity to.”

Daffer added she’s thankful for her time at Northwest Missouri State and all the support she has received during her time there.

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