PA Salute To Seniors: Zach Kline - Penncrest

What is your most memorable race/competition?
Ahh. This one's an easy one for me. My Indoor Relay team and I had our work cut out for us replacing some studs like CJ Cassey and Brendan Robert. We went into Hispanic Invitational, an early Indoor meet up in NYC at the prestigious Armory, and ran a time of 8:02, beating our goal of 8:12 and our time from the week before by over 20 seconds! We set the school record, all PRed by multiple seconds, and were PA#1. It was the day our goal, Gold State Medals, finally looked like a reality. (Although we never achieved it, the fact that it was alive was enough excitement to make it one of the most enjoyable moments  in our lives.

Where did you face your biggest competition.
Another easy question. After Hispanic and some technical problems, we ended up running at the Collegiate invitational. We ran against the fastest relays in the nation in front of division 1, prime athletes from all over the country and their coaches. Although we didn't all PR in this one, it was where I would run my fastest 800 with a time of 1:58.2 (split), passing five kids and handing off in front of everyone except CBA, who in that race set their state record. We further set our lead as PA#1 and were US#10; goals and expectations were high.

Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
Although it wasn't our goal, our Silver State Medals were easily (our) most outstanding accomplishment.

If you could do it all again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?
Nothing. I don't particularly want to brag, although that's kind of the nature of this letter, but, I'm serious. I know it sounds cliche, but I don't take back the hours spent working out in the gym, the Friday nights spent sleeping in preparation for the early morning Saturday meets, the days where I was too tired due to the workout to even function as a human being. I don't even regret those times where I couldn't get up, let alone off the track, for half an hour. I can honestly say I gave it my all, and, although I've definitely made mistakes, I wouldn't change them. I wouldn't even change my naive 25 first two-hundred at the State Championship, which may very well have cost us our championship goal. It sounds stupid and, like I said, cliche, so ignore it if you want, but it is what it is.

What were the most difficult obstacles you've had to overcome?
This one's actually a bit harder to answer. Of course I've had obstacles, but I don't think they were anything colossal. I've struggled with asthma, occasionally having an attack, but that wasn't the biggest problem seeing that it was more of a cross country thing. {The climax (which I'm not afraid to laugh at) being when I had one in the middle of districts and woke up alone in the middle of a cornfield.} I've also battled a little with injuries, the climax probably coming this outdoor season where I competed individually in the district championship after not having really trained in a month on a broken foot, strained Achilles (which was the bane of me), and bad back. (Car accident). The thing is, I feel bad even saying those obstacles were ever overcome. I didn't even finish the cross country race, and I ran a 2:04 at districts. After watching Drew Magaha break a state record in my event after Mono, I barely even deserve to say I've ever had obstacles.

What will you miss the most?
I'm gonna pick a weird one. I'm gonna miss the practice. There is nothing I love more than sprinting down the back straight away, wind at your back, teammates at your side, racing for that finish line with everything you've got. There are times when we're carrying each other to the line, barely even able to walk, but as soon as my coach says his infamous "go", we're moving. We're sprinting, and we don't really know how. It's awful, but, as I'd like to imagine every runner knows, it's great. I don't care if I get home that night and can't think straight enough to do my homework; I know I did what I had to do and that is a great feeling comparable to none.

Do you have any advice for younger athletes?
If you take just one thing from what I'm gonna say, let it be to Listen. There is something to learn from everyone in every situation. Even if you're just running that 2:10 for a win in the duel meet, pay attention. Stay sharp and do what you have to do. Also, remember, your coach is always right. I know it sounds like a stupid thing to say, but you just have to follow  it. You can make suggestions to the coach, but if he's firm with something, believe it. You'll do well if you truly have faith that what you're doing is the right thing to do. If your coach tells you to go out in 53 in a duel meet where the next fastest kid will run a 2:12, do it. You may be able to win with ease sitting on the kid, but the coach has more experience. He's more than likely already had his own running career on top of years of watching many other kids. He's more experienced than you, and I guarantee he has a reason. And, even if he doesn't have a good reason and is just an idiot, you're better off listening to someone, as long as you truly believe it. This is something I choose to live by, and I've learned a lot from it so far, beyond just running.

Have your coaches influenced your performance and your life goals overall?
Of course! I was lucky to have some of the best coaches in the state. George Munro and Robert Brown have both nurtured me and encouraged me throughout all four of my years running. George, as everyone calls him, gives attention to everyone. It was his unwavering support that sparked my love for the sport and my want to do all the hard work. If George gave me the Heart, Brown gave me the tools. If it wasn't for Brown's in-depth specialist knowledge, none of us would be where we are today. He made a silver state medalist team out of four kids who had never broken two, and we can't repay him enough for it. This sort of knowledge goes beyond just running and into my overall life philosophy, go hard or go home.

What are your college plans?
I plan to attend West Chester University in the Fall where I'm not sure if I will be running. It's a big commitment if I decide to go all in, and I'm not sure if I'm willing to sacrifice my academic prowess for such a hit or miss sport.

Shout outs:
There are a lot of names to put here so instead of the typical names {my relay members (Pat Miller, Ali Dastagirzada, me, Nate Emanuel) and my coaches), I'd like to thank a couple of my teammates who also helped me to succeed. They probably won't see this, but I'd like to throw a shout out to Ed Noyes and Colin Myers. Ed Noyes was essentially the 5th member of our relay, and he deserves my medal just as much as I do. Colin Myers was my injury replacement (although it was barely a drop), and if it wasn't for him, none of us would have worked as hard as we did. I could never thank you two enough.





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