Floyd freshman Zariel Macchia wins Suffolk girls cross country division championships
Running fast comes pretty naturally for Zariel Macchia. The Floyd freshman hasn’t wasted any time etching her place as the one to beat in Suffolk. All she needed to do was keep her feet under her.
Yes, that’s what Macchia said was an early challenge when she started making her way towards the top of the Suffolk ranks two years ago.
"I got tripped up a lot in seventh grade," Macchia said of her first season running at the high school level. "I remember in counties, I tripped and fell at the start, so I was doing an all-out sprint to catch back up to everybody."
But, she’s past that now and on top of Long Island early in her high school years.
"More race experience definitely helped," she said.
It also helps that few can keep up with her. Macchia won at the Suffolk Division Championships Thursday afternoon, running the 5-kilometer course at Sunken Meadow State Park in 18 minutes, 52.4 seconds.
Macchia’s time was the 15th fastest ever run by a Suffolk girl at Sunken Meadow, according to SuffolkXCTF.com. She broke the Floyd school record of 18:54.8, set by Edith Vilardi in 1984, according to coach John Ryan. Macchia, knowing that the record was in play, sprinted towards the finish line despite being comfortably ahead.
"We thought [the school record] would be a fun goal," she said.
Macchia said she battled with Miller Place’s Sierra Gray for most of the race, passing her on the downhill of Snake Hill.
"But then she caught back up to me in the picnic area," Macchia said. "We were kind of going back and forth a lot of the race. Down Cardiac [Hill], I ran pretty fast and that’s where I kind of broke away from everybody. Even then, Sierra was pretty close behind me."
Gray finished second in 19:07.8.
Macchia’s had an excellent season so far. She is currently ranked first on Long Island, and seventh in the state, in speed ratings produced by tullyrunners.com, putting her squarely in the mix for a potential public school state championship next month.
But, with a lot of years ahead of her, Macchia isn’t thinking too big…yet.
"I’ve never gone to states before, so that would be a really fun experience," Macchia said. "….I’m not really worried about winning states this year. Maybe in an upcoming year, but it’s not my goal this year."
Macchia continued: "I’m pretty confident that I can run in the front at states, but I’m not focused on winning it yet."
Ward Melville won the team title with 108 points. East Islip was second with 114. Ward Melville’s Julia Bell was sixth in 20:10.4.