Floyd’s Zariel Macchia after qualifying for the U.S. National Team...

Floyd’s Zariel Macchia after qualifying for the U.S. National Team in U20 6k at the USATF meet. Credit: Alexandra Guerrero Macchia

The time has come for Zariel Macchia to conquer the world. It wouldn’t be surprising if many thought that feat had already been accomplished. The Floyd sophomore has proven she can out-run all of Long Island, New York state, and a vast majority of the country. The next logical progression is to go global, which is what she’ll do when she competes at the World Athletics Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, Australia on Feb. 18. 

Macchia qualified for the United States National Team by placing third in 20 minutes, 4.7 seconds in the U20 (under-20 years old) women’s 6-kilometer race at the USATF championships at Pole Green Park in Richmond, Virginia last weekend. Now, she’ll travel to the land down under, a place she’s never been, as her foray into international competition begins.

“This is the best race that I’ve ever run, and probably the most competitive race that I’ve ever been in,” Macchia said of last weekend’s run.

West Virginia’s Irene Riggs, who was just named Gatorade’s National Girls Cross Country Player of the Year, won in 19:44.3.

Last weekend marked Macchia’s first cross country race since she finished sixth at the Champs Sports National meet in California on Dec. 10. Although Macchia was happy with that performance, she remained curious if a different race strategy might have led to a higher finish. What if she was a little more aggressive to start? Macchia had led at Champs for approximately 600 meters, but then hung back and led the first chase pack for a large part of the rest of the race.

“I felt I could have placed higher,” Macchia said of the Champs race. “I knew I had a shot to win going into it. I ran that race super well, but I felt I tried to run a smart race because I knew I could go for the win. In trying to run smarter, I sort of held myself back, gave them some space early on, and try to save some (energy) for later on and maybe try to catch them. But, the top girls ended up running all-time great times, which I was not anticipating.”

Macchia continued: “I wanted to see if sixth was where I belonged at Champs, or if I had gone out with the leaders, if I could have finished higher.”

Macchia was able to run a bit differently in Virginia and it worked. She led at both the 1,000 (3:11.8) and  3,000 (10:01.8) meter marks. After falling into fourth by the 4,000-meter split, Macchia moved up into third in the final 1,000.

While Macchia has been a known factor on Long Island since she was a seventh grader, her ascension into the national — and now global — female distance running conversation is still relatively new. But a spot on a national team as a sophomore in high school poses the obvious leap in logic — are the Olympics in her future?

Macchia said that she hasn’t spent too much time thinking about Olympic prospects yet — she still does have a little less than two and a half full high school years left — but her mind had wandered after her latest accomplishment.

“After this race, me, my parents, and my coach actually did start thinking that (making the Olympics) could be a possibility in the future,” Macchia said. “If that opportunity presented itself, I would definitely try to qualify. It would be really cool.”

Monk Jr. tops on LI in 1k

The Long Island boys 1,000 leaderboard continues to shift, and the mantel now belongs to Freeport’s Danzil Monk Jr.  Monk ran a 2:32.12 and placed second at the U.S. Army Officials Hall of Fame Invitational last weekend at The Armory in Manhattan. The time is the fastest on Long Island, and second-fastest in the state, as of Thursday, according to milesplit.com. 

Monk said that his goal was to run the state-qualifying standard of 2:35.24. He got even more than he bargained for.

“I was in the (fast) heat, so I was confident in my ability to run (2:35),” Monk said. “When I crossed that line and saw 2:32, I was very surprised ... Going into the 800 meter (split), I saw 2:02 and I realized I had a lot left in the tank, so I just started pushing. I closed in 29 (seconds). 

Monk's prospects for the next month-and-a-half are a little different after last weekend. He is now, officially, a state championship contender.

“The state title is definitely more of a realistic thing for me right now,” he said.

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