The life of CSU track and field sensation Gabi McDonald


Collegian | Tri Duong

Colorado State University track and field athlete Gabi McDonald Feb. 13.

Dylan Heinrich, Staff Reporter

The Colorado State University throwers have been dominant all year, consistently placing top three or outright winning the shot put and weight throw. A big part of their success has been junior Gabi McDonald.

McDonald has always been tied to Fort Collins, graduating from the nearby Rocky Mountain High School. The decision to go to CSU was an easy one for McDonald, as the school runs deep in her genes. 


“My whole family went to CSU,” McDonald said. “My grandfather was a professor here, my parents met here (and) my brother (Max) played football here. … My blood really does run green and gold.”

Her older brother Max McDonald has always been a big inspiration for Gabi McDonald. As he started throwing for the track and field team in middle school, she followed in his footsteps.

“My brother is my hero,” McDonald said. “I wanted to do everything he did.”

The Fort Collins local competed as a three-sport athlete all four years of high school. In addition to track and field, she was also extremely skilled in both basketball and soccer. McDonald was initially recruited to CSU to play goalkeeper for the soccer team.

Despite already living the dream and committing to play Division I soccer, McDonald wasn’t ready to give up her life as a multi-sport athlete. She already knew Brian Bedard, the head coach of the track team, because she played soccer alongside his daughter at Rocky Mountain High School.

“(Bedard) knew how far I was throwing based on being around (me) in high school,” McDonald said. “He offered to let me do track, so I did both.”

“(She was) a really competitive person,” Bedard said. “Loves to compete, (has) good intensity (and is a) high-energy person.”

The first year at Colorado State went great for McDonald as she gained experience in both sports. After playing in five games in the fall during soccer season, the multi-sport athlete was redshirted and allowed to compete unattached in eight separate meets.

McDonald was promoted to starting goalkeeper her second year with the CSU soccer team. She started all 20 of the Rams’ matchups, racking up 109 saves while only allowing 15 goals. 


But the toll on her body was too great, as she aggravated a nagging knee injury far enough to need surgery. 

“It got to the point where it was really holding her back,” Bedard said. “She elected to get a complete reconstruction on the knee.”

After plenty of rehabilitation, McDonald was ready to officially compete as a Ram at track meets. Despite entering her third season as a member of the program, she still held freshman eligibility. She immediately made an impact, throwing the 10th best indoor shot put in CSU history at her debut meet.

By the end of McDonald’s first year, she had competed in 11 meets, earned outdoor All-Mountain West Honors in shot put and discus and placed seventh all-time in CSU outdoor shot put.

McDonald was riding high heading into her fourth year but was forced into a nearly impossible decision. The new women’s soccer coach was unwilling to approve of McDonald’s two-sport approach, forcing her to choose either soccer or track and field.

“I’m just looking forward to the time I have left and making the most of it.” -Gabi McDonald, CSU track and field thrower

“The new (soccer) coach is great — she just wasn’t supportive of two sports as much,” McDonald said. “I had more eligibility with track, so I decided to focus on it and stay with Bedard.”

This decision immediately paid dividends for her track resume. McDonald continued to dominate the shot put event, winning the indoor title at the Mountain West Championship and placing fifth in CSU history. In the outdoor portion, she finished second at the conference championship, and her career high mark of 53 feet, 8.5 inches was good enough for fourth in CSU outdoor history.

Outside of track and field, McDonald has plenty of other hobbies and interests. She enjoys lifting, hiking, reading and still playing soccer in her free time. 

But her biggest interest outside of track is a person. That person is her fiance, fellow track and field athlete Jackson Morris.

The couple first met in high school at a Colorado State throwing camp. The two then became close friends after spending a year on the team together with all the travels and a shared love of throwing heavy objects.

But the romance didn’t bloom until McDonald’s surgery, as Morris was recovering from surgery on his elbow at the same time. 

“It was weird. … We just had to watch other people throw,” McDonald said. “It was really fun to get really close to him, and then we started dating shortly after.”

Those recovery days sparked McDonald’s favorite memory, as the two drove down to New Mexico together to support their teammates during a meet. 

“Trying to keep up with him as he sprinted around the track cheering for everybody — it was the most insane love of track any of our teammates (and myself had) ever seen,” McDonald said. “I try and match that every day. That’s definitely my favorite memory (with Morris).”

For Morris, his defining moment was a little less romantic. 

“She used to whip me with her braid at track practice,” Morris said. “I just loved interacting with her at practice, and I think that’s where it all started.”

After dating McDonald for over two years, Morris finally mustered up the courage and proposed to McDonald last September. She responded with a resounding yes, and the two are set to be wed over the summer. 

“The thing I remember most was seeing her reaction to me asking her to marry her,” Morris said. “I just loved her reaction — and then our dog stepped on a candle and ruined it.”

Between the track season and the upcoming wedding, it’s easy to get lost in the busyness of it all. For McDonald, it’s all about enjoying the ride of a lifetime. 

“I’m just looking forward to the time I have left and making the most of it,” McDonald said.

Reach Dylan Heinrich at or on Twitter @dylanrheinrich.