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Four years running

Zoe Mead, Princeton
Zoe Mead, Princeton

Four years Zoe Mead ran cross country for Princeton High School. And for four years she qualified for sectionals.

It’s an accomplishment only five Princeton girls ahead of her have reached before. Not one of the five state medalists from Princeton, including 2001 state runner-up Rebecca Faber, were able to match that feat.

And although she came up short of reaching her ultimate goal, state, she makes her final run as the 2013 BCR Runner of the Year, gaining the honors for the first time.

While her long, gliding strides may seem effortlessly, it hasn’t always come easy for the Princeton standout.

“My freshman year running just came easy, almost effortlessly, but as I got bigger and stronger it wasn’t as natural and it took more effort and was less enjoyable to me,” Mead said. “So making to sectionals my sophomore, junior, and senior year was more of an accomplishment for me because I had to work harder to get there. Also, going into my sophomore season I got really sick and never quiet felt the same training for distance since then.”

Mead made a marked improvement at sectional this year, placing 17th with a time of 20:22, just four spots from making state. In 2011, she finished 34th.

“State is always the goal going into sectionals, so coming up short was disappointing. But at the same time it taught me how to compete and revealed what my strengths and weaknesses are as a runner,” Mead said.

“I was really proud of her performance at the Oregon Sectional.  She had a pretty rough day of it at the Seneca Regional, so I didn’t know what to expect, but she got herself up into the race and had a decent shot at qualifying for state,” PHS coach Pat Hodge said. “Of course, the best part of having Zoe on the team isn’t just the success that she’s had athletically, but that she is a nice person as well. She smiles easily and has an upbeat personality, traits coaches like to see.  She has been very coachable.”

Mead finished third (20:58) in the Three Rivers Conference meet this year in her first run in the league. She had a season-best 19:32 this year, just off the career best 19:16 her freshmen season.

The funny thing about Mead’s success in cross country is she’d rather run middle distance, excelling in track last spring. She was a state medalist in the 800 meters and BCR Honor Roll leader in the 200, 400 and 800 meters.

“Running the 800 is more of a long sprint, but even though I don’t have that great of foot speed for the sprints, the middle distance seems to fit me well,” Mead said. “I’ve always been able to put together a good kick at the end of a race, it just seems to work better for me in 800 rather than a three-mile race. Part of that kick I think runs in the family and I definitely had my older brother, Jacob, as an example of how to run the race as hard as you can, and then finish the last 200 meters even faster.”

Mead would like to continue to run in college, but will be looking to run track rather than cross country.

“I’m looking forward to get the chance to compete at the next level and see what I can do. But you just have to take it one day at a time and see what happens,” she said.

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