PRINCETON — To see Zoe Mead run ... well, it was like true poetry in motion.
She ran with long, fluid strides, seemingly never slowing down or stopping. It was that ability that served her equally well in cross country and track, as well as on the basketball court.
The Princeton High School senior was the BCR Runner of the Year and a four-time state qualifier in cross country.
She was a state runner-up in Class 2A and the runner-up for BCR Female Track Athlete of the year honors.
Mead also garnered First Team All-BCR recognition in basketball.
For those honors, Mead now receives a share of the 2014 BCR Female Athlete of the Year Award with LaMoille senior Shiela Browning.
Mead proved to be a strong distance runner her freshman year at PHS. After an illness her sophomore year, she never really fully recovered to full strength as a distance runner, though she continued to qualify for state.
“Middle distance seemed to fit me better as a runner from that point on,” she said. “I’ve always favored running sprints opposed to distance races even since junior high. With the 800/400 combination, we found a happy medium that I enjoyed and was successful in.”
She had a memorable senior track season, one for the record books at PHS. She led the BCR Honor Roll in the 400 meters (57.55) and 800 meters (2:15.28), setting school records in both events.
It was her finish in the state finals in the 800 meters that will have local and state track enthusiasts talking about for years. Standing about ninth or 10th place with 300 meters to go, Mead reached back for everything she had, becoming a blur around the EIU track, to finish second only to state champ Karina Liz of Aurora Central Catholic with her school record time.
Mead believed she could do it, and she did just that.
“This year I became more confident in my racing after my dad and I came up with a plan of how to run the 400 and 800,” she said. “During my 800 race in the finals, I had the confidence to finish the race strongly, and I set myself up to have enough of a kick at the end to place well.”
The second-place finish landed her a second state medal in that event and third overall, an accomplishment, she never takes lightly.
“It’s always an honor to medal at state; it puts a materialistic value on all the effort and hard work you put into your racing in and out of season.”
Competing as a small school in 2A rather than a large school in 1A, Mead never worried about the tougher competition, rather concentrated on competing against herself and her times.
“There’s always that ‘what if’ question in any athletic career,” Mead said. “Even if I did run in 1A, there was still some tough competition in that field. At this point in my career, I was racing more for times rather than place, and I think I would have been pushed in either class to finish with the times I had.”
When asked about her favorite sports moment at PHS, Mead pointed to having the opportunity to run on the 4x8 relay her freshman year which landed her first state medal.
Those girls were great role models for me as a freshman on the team and showed me what true sportsmanship was. I continued in my running career to look back on that freshman year as motivation and to keep me focused on my goals,” Mead said.
College basketball coaches took notice of Mead’s speed, athleticism and length and envisioned her on their fast breaks and full court press, especially those watching her regional effort against St. Bede when she had 17 points, 18 rebounds and two steals and two blocked shots. She drew the interest from IVCC and Division II Robert Morris basketball coaches, among others, but in the end, she stuck with track.
“My last high school basketball game will always be a good memory to look back on, and I miss the team and sport a lot,” she said. “I did have some coaches contact me about playing basketball, and I gave some thought about playing in college. But it’s always been a dream of mine to run on a college track team, and I was given an amazing opportunity at Lewis that I couldn’t pass up.”
Mead said she has a lot to be thankful for during her time at PHS.
“I have been so blessed throughout my years at PHS. I couldn’t have gotten through it without all the love and support from family, friends and coaches and am so appreciative for everything they have done for me,” she said.
Heading to Lewis this fall, Mead has the typical freshman nervousness, but “ultimately I’m so excited and appreciative of this opportunity to be able continue my running career at a higher level and can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.”
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