Zaria Hall is no stranger to crossing the finish line first.
The sophomore has won all five of East Meadow’s cross country meets this season.
“Zaria is a really hard-working athlete," coach Mike Ringhauser said. "She brings a dedicated work ethic, she’s extremely coachable, and she’s an inspiration for the rest of the team."
Last Tuesday, Hall finished first in the Varsity Girls 1B meet against Massapequa in 19 minutes, 38.09 seconds at Eisenhower Park to help her earn Newsday's Athlete of the Week.
But it wasn’t just about securing a victory for herself. The game plan was for East Meadow runners to finish in first, second and third before heading to their challenging meet against Syosset.
“The goal wasn’t to push myself too much," Hall said. "I was trying to stick with Massapequa’s top girl and then kick off when I needed to.”
Ringhauser wasn't surprised by Hall's run that day.
“She's so selfless," Ringhauser said. "She’s able to take a little bit off of her own race to help pace the rest of the girls. This helps the team progress to the later races of the season and the county championship.”
Just three days before that, Hall finished first out of 74 runner at the Varsity B Six Flags Wild Safari Invitational in 19:05.41.
“Winning that meet felt like a huge accomplishment,” she said. “When my coach told me I had a chance, I was ready to put in the work and execute.”
“One of her greatest strengths is being able to pull away from people, and putting herself into a different level of running,” Ringhauser said. “That’s exactly what she did in the last half mile of that race.”
In her freshman season, Hall took third in 19:45.2 at the Nassau state Class A qualifier, then finished 43rd in 20:17.2 at the state championship. She was just one spot away from making it to the state Federation meet.
“I’m extremely determined to make it to Federations this year,” she said, “maybe even farther than that. Another goal is to PR [personal record] this season. I can definitely sub 19:00."
Ringhauser said Zaria is developing a great sense of self-confidence this season.
“Zaria has a great belief in herself,” Ringhauser said. “She’s starting to realize just how much the hard work she’s putting in will amount to this season.”