Zariel Macchia has run all over the world. She’s been everywhere from Alabama and California, to Virginia and South Carolina. In February, the Floyd sophomore’s quick feet and rarely matched endurance took her to the World Athletics Cross Country championships in Bathurst, Australia.
All this has been fun, fast, and exciting. And, none of it has dampened her enthusiasm for racing in Suffolk. With all the experiences she’s had in the last two years, a county championship meet may seem like small potatoes — too local to get the juices of an athlete like Macchia flowing.
But, that’s the thing about Macchia. She always wants a race and doesn’t care if it’s down under, or over in Commack.
That’s part of the reason why Macchia was so gung-ho about running four events at the Suffolk Class AA track and field championships Wednesday at Commack. There’s still just something about being a county champion.
“I know how important these championships are to everyone,” said Macchia, who is Newsday’s Athlete of the Week. “Everyone runs hard when they’re at counties. It means a lot to people. Even with my accomplishments at the national, and even world level, I still wanted to show that counties are still important to me.”
In traditional Macchia fashion, she won all four events — taking the 800 meters in 2 minutes, 18.48 seconds, the 1,500 in 4:56.51, the 3,000 in 10:07.10, and running anchor on the 4 x 800-meter relay team that won in 9:59.56.
For all the out-of-Suffolk success that Macchia has had, she still remembers when the mountain she was most interested in climbing had a 631 area code.
“When I started running in seventh and eighth grade, the goal was to train to be good enough to win counties,” she said. “I’ve always kept perspective on that.”
The 4 x 800, run with teammates Aaliyah Jordan, Destiny Samuels and Karen Jackson, was doubly special. Like many racers of her caliber, Macchia often finds herself alone at the top. With the 4 x 800, her friends were there too.
“I love Z,” Jordan said. “She’s one of my closest friends. We pretty much run together every day. I just look at her as my friend whose really good at running.”
Now Macchia’s attention turns to the Suffolk state qualifier meet, scheduled for Thursday and Friday at Comsewogue. She said she plans to run the 800, 1,500, and 3,000 there and — at this point — will run all three at the state championships, scheduled for June 9-10 at Middletown High School.