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Zachary Kinne: Naperville Youth Eyes National Track Title

As one of four brothers, two of whom are also competitive runners, success came early for Zachary Kinne.  And with what his father calls “a reasonable amount of training,” the future appears even brighter for the 11-year-old from Naperville, IL.

Kinne opened more than a few eyes last month at the AAU Indoor Track & Field National Championship meet in Bloomington, IL when he handily won the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meter events in his age group. Looking ahead, Zachary will compete at the USA Track & Field Indoor National Championships being held in Normal IL.  His performances at the regional qualification meet earned him the the #1 seed in the 800, 1,500 and 3,000 meter events – all of this in just his first year of running indoor track.

Before this year’s venture into indoor track, Kinne also posted impressive performances outdoors – finishing fifth in the 3,000 meters at the 2011 AAU Junior Olympics and fourth at the 2011 AAU Cross Country National Championships.

Catching up with Zachary proves difficult.  After school, the honors student takes a 3-4 mile run, tackles homework then heads to baseball practice. "It’s a matter of managing time and scheduling,” his father Mike, a former member of the Baylor University track team, says.  “Zachary is far more talented and disciplined than me.”

Until relatively recently, Mike says Zachary relied on natural ability. “Natural talent gets you to the dance, but training makes the difference in a champion,” Mike says.

For the last year, Zachary trains year-round, running 15-20 miles a week using the long-slow-distance method of training.  That work builds endurance but hardly compares to two of Zachary’s most important keys to success – calmness and competitiveness.

“Pressure doesn’t faze him,” his father says. “Zachary doesn’t get very high or very low but he is super competitive.”
After the March 10-11 USATF National Youth Indoor Track & Field Championships in Normal, IL, focus then turns to the outdoor track season when Zachary’s training changes slightly.  He trains with high school-aged runners for a greater challenge.

On a more distant horizon, Zachary already has thoughts about his academic and athletic future – in college.  His father says a “perfect world” for college combines strong academics and a great track tradition.  At this point, Zachary’s top three include Stanford, Duke and North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

And for an 11-year-old with a promising academic and athletic future, reaching that college goal, as his father says, is simply a matter of working hard and managing priorities wisely.

Charles Oliver

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