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Uniondale's Zaria Fuller wants to get to top spot in pentathlon

Uniondale's Zaria Fuller edges Calhoun's Cristin Rodrigues over

Uniondale's Zaria Fuller edges Calhoun's Cristin Rodrigues over the last hurdle of the girls 55-meter hurdles finals during the Nassau Class A track championships at St. Anthony's High School on Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2017. Credit: Joseph D. Sullivan

Running, jumping, throwing — Uniondale’s Zaria Fuller does it all, and come June, she wants to add another activity to her resume — standing on the top of the podium at the state track and field championships.

Fuller competes in the pentathlon, which includes the 100-meter hurdles, high jump, long jump, shot put and 800 meters. Last year, as a freshman, she took second at the meet, and now she’s aiming for the top spot as the No. 1 returner in the state.

“I definitely want to be a New York state champion. That’s the main goal for outdoor,” Fuller said. “For me, that’s something I want to achieve.”

There have been a lot of successes for the sophomore. Besides last spring’s state place, she’s the returning Nassau champion in high jump. But while it’s helpful to excel at certain events, succeeding in the pentathlon comes down to consistency in all five with an emphasis on improving what doesn’t work best. For Fuller, that means working on her 800 time to help lift her standing across the board.

“It take a lot of hard work, determination, strength, positive people,” Fuller said.

She spends six days a week practicing, and usually those sessions run long. There’s no way around it — when you’re doing five events when others are competing in one or two, you have to put in the time.

“I’m usually the last one to leave practice and that’s because I have so many events to practice for,” Fuller said. “But it’s just keeping a mindset and remembering you have a goal to achieve and that you have to achieve that goal.”

Her focus hasn’t gone unnoticed by coach Leigh Pollet. Often in track and field, that characteristic can be the difference between having a decent season and an award-winning one.

“When she gets into her zone, just get out of her way,” Pollet said. “She is driven; she is determined.”

Every meet gives Fuller another experience to use when the going gets tough. The New Balance Nationals indoor meet showed her that, when she didn’t perform how she wanted to on long jump. She came in 10th for the pentathlon, but came away with a better understanding of how to compartmentalize the ups and downs of a long day.

“I learned I can’t just let one messed up event get involved in everything else I have to get done,” Fuller said. “I have to dig deeper and push further even if I don’t show up in that event.”

With that experience in the rearview mirror, she’s looking ahead at the heights she can reach this spring. She said it’s important to achieve more than what’s expected of her, which she already did with such a high state placement as a freshman.

But still, why go through the toil of so many events when you can excel at a few at a time? It’s all part of the challenge, to prove others wrong.

“Because I know I can,” Fuller said. “Why not?”

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