Runners usually are divided into two areas — sprinters or distance.
There are different sub-areas of each, but it’s rare that the two overlap. Allison Zolkiewicz of South Carroll showed what happens when that rarity occurs.
Zolkiewicz, the Times Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, can run indoor sprints at 55 meters competitively, and help out on the 4x100 and 4x200 relays. Basically, she can run anything from 55 meters all the way up to 800, and was a dominant force in Carroll County the last few years.
This spring, Zolkiewicz won the Class 2A state championship in the 800 and took third in the 400. She also anchored the first-place 4x800 relay as well as for the 4x400 relay that finished second. In other words, Zolkiewicz can run all four relays and do them well.
Zolkiewicz finished her high school career with nine state championships, either individually or on relays. She will be running at Virginia Tech next year.
“She’s unbelievably talented,” South Carroll coach Don Caparotti said. “With her range … it is just amazing. You just have all the confidence in the world in her, and it’s just a joy to just watch.”
It’s not often that a runner can do sprints and distance. Zolkiewicz can handle both and uses her speed to grow into a more effective distance runner. She employs a great kick that simply lets her out-run others late in races.
Simply put, opponents just could not catch her at times.
“It definitely helped a lot,” Zolkiewicz said. “I [knew] I could out-kick anyone. I think my main strategy … would be to sit in the main pack and rely on my kick to carry me through.”
Zolkiewicz remembers finding out she had unusual speed during a play day in fifth grade. She played soccer in middle school and again saw that speed. That’s when her mom and dad — Jeff and Lisa — suggested their daughter try track.
Zolkiewicz believes she started by doing sprinting, specifically the 100 and 200, and a coach said just try the 400. She sprinted the whole way and even though it was painful to do that, former coach Bill Gerhold saw Zolkiewicz could do well in that race with the right workouts and stamina. Plus, he saw potential in the 800.
That basically meant she could help in most races up to the 800 and could run on most relays, if needed. It gives a coach amazing flexibility and is a big reason the Cavaliers found success with Zolkiewicz there.
This season, South Carroll won its second consecutive team championship at the Carroll County meet. The Cavaliers then took second in the Class 2A West Region, and fourth in the state meet.
Zolkiewicz said she sees herself as being kind of a middle distance runner when arriving at Virginia Tech, possibly working on races like the 800, 1,000, and 1,500 meters. But at South Carroll, she did not run cross country her last three years, spending the fall focusing on weight training and trying to get ready for indoor track.
“It was nice to have that kind of a break from running,” she said. “It was nice to dive into lifting and [prepare for indoors].”
Now comes Virginia Tech, where Zolkiewicz is looking to eventually become a criminal profiler with the FBI. She is looking forward to her next challenge there but will miss the days and friendships made while running at South Carroll.
“Running together all these years, we formed some really close bonds,” Zolkiewicz said. “But I’m definitely excited for the friendships and bonds I’ll make at VT and what’s to come.”
Even though Zolkiewicz won or helped win those nine state titles, Caparotti said he sees even brighter days ahead for her at Virginia Tech. That special mix of speed and endurance already has carried her far.
Caparotti believes she can keep right on rolling.
“I think the sky is the limit for her,” the coach said. “The strength that she has, the range that she has. She can be a great asset to any team. It was nothing but a privilege to be her coach for a short period of time. I wish her nothing but the best.”
All-County Girls Track & Field
Event Name School Year
Sprints Grayson Fipps South Carroll Junior
Mid-distance Karly Eudy South Carroll Senior
Mid-distance Megan O'Neill South Carroll Junior
Mid-distance Allison Zolkiewicz South Carroll Senior
Hurdles Alyssa Chesney South Carroll Senior
Hurdles Brooke Flanigan South Carroll Sophomore
Hurdles Sarah Pernell Francis Scott Key Senior
Distance Jamie Anderson South Carroll Senior
Distance Kathryn Hopkins Winters Mill Freshman
Field Summer Burton Francis Scott Key Senior
Field Kelli Garriott Manchester Valley Senior
Field Natalie Lansinger Liberty Senior
Field Chidinma Mba Century Sophomore
Field Emma Taggart Francis Scott Key Junior
Century: Macy Hamlett, Natalie Poulton. Francis Scott Key: Elizabeth Mahoney. Liberty: Maia Burger, Yani Hawthorne, Hailey Steier. Manchester Valley: Katelynd Manno. South Carroll: Danielle Firlie, Megan Plummer, Grace Siehler. Westminster: Erin McGrath, Rachel Rogalski, Camile White.