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Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year: A 'passion' developed for SC's Zolkiewicz

For the Carroll County Times
Allison Zolkiewicz is the Times Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.

Allie Zolkiewicz runs long sprints and middle distance indoors. Some runners that do any kind of distance use the cross country season and its longer runs as preparation for the winter season, but the South Carroll junior got ready for indoor track in a different way.

Zolkiewicz and SC coach Bill Gerhold decided the runner would skip cross country while using a different type of workout routine on her own throughout the fall. The move paid off as Zolkiewicz ran well throughout the winter and capped it with an outstanding performance that helped the Cavaliers pull off a stunning victory at the county meet.

The junior won four different races at that meet — believed to be the first time that has happened for individual events at counties — and later posted a second plus two thirds at the state meet, and that helped her earn Times Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year honors for the second straight winter.

Gerhold said they planned out Zolkiewicz's fall schedule during the summer. They wanted her to stay fit and be in mid-season form when the indoors began.

"The way she runs, it's better for her to focus on track," Gerhold said. "It really works out for her."

Zolkiewicz spent the fall focusing on areas such as weight training, massages, Pilates, and speed work. She did speed work twice a week on the track and also went on long runs two to three times a week.

"I think it helped me a lot because going into the indoor season, I was definitely better prepared," she said. "My body was ready to go."

The toughest part proved to be watching her friends take part in cross country. Zolkiewicz served as the cross country manager while doing her own work in preparation for the upcoming season.

It wasn't an easy task.

"It's hard because lots of the people who do indoor do cross country as well, and I want to be with them," Zolkiewicz said. "I know that, in the long run, it's going to help our team because the training I was doing on my own was going to help contribute to the team [later]."

Zolkiewicz ran cross country as a freshman, but she and her coach then discussed the situation and felt that the individual program of work during the fall season might serve her better.

She tried it in the fall of 2015, and everything worked well, so they went back to it this past fall — and the results paid off, especially at the county meet.

Zolkiewicz scored victories in the 55-meter dash (7.55 seconds), the 300 (41.42) and 500 (1:20.19) dashes, and the 800 run (2:27.24). She liked the victories because they helped South Carroll win the meet with 152.5 points, beating out Century (126.5).

"I was really happy, and I was kind of shocked," Zolkiewicz said. "It's such an awesome feeling knowing what I did helped my team win the counties. It was great just to be able to do that and really help contribute to the team effort of winning the counties."

Winning sprint and mid-distance runs in the same meet is rather unusual and rare, and it caught the attention of many at the meet.

"She's insanely fast," said Century distance runner Natalie Poulton. "It was extremely impressive. I just don't know how she did it."

Zolkiewicz was and is just as concerned with the team aspect of the game. She knew that the Cavaliers had lost a few key runners from the year before and felt that doing better and becoming more of a leader would be important this winter.

In fact, Zolkiewicz said that setting an example by working hard in practice and pushing to achieve the right goals were crucial. Before meets, South Carroll would have a team prayer and talked about their goals for the meet, and Zolkiewicz would look to talk and settle people's nerves before the start — anything to help the team.

So, her individual work in the fall paid off on the track while Zolkiewicz's other work also helped South Carroll earn a county title.

"She did a really good job of preparing for the season," Gerhold said. "She was very focused this year. Allie was becoming one of the leaders. She has a tremendous passion for the sport."

sports@carrollcountytimes.com

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All-County Girls Indoor Track

FIRST TEAM

Event;Name;School;Position

Sprints;Caroline Bresnahan;Century;Junior

Sprints;Megan O’Neill;South Carroll;Sophomore

Sprints;Lauren Weitzel;ManchesterValley;Senior

Sprints;Allison Zolkiewicz;South Carroll;Junior

Hurdles;Sarah Pernell;Francis Scott Key;Junior

Distance;Jamie Anderson;South Carroll;Junior

Distance;Emma Kartalia;Winters Mill;Senior

Distance;Natalie Poulton;Century;Junior

Distance;Kaylee Titus;Century;Junior

Field;Summer Burton;Francis Scott Key;Junior

Field;Kelli Garriott;Manchester Valley;Senior

Field;Lisi Hurst;Century;Junior

SECOND TEAM

Century: Gabriele Cole, Macy Hamlett, Madison Reeser. Francis Scott Key: Emma Taggart. Man Valley: Mackenzie Poist. South Carroll: Sydney Ashley, Grayson Fipps, Natalie Hoff, Sarah Langille, Sydney Ruckel. Westminster: Kaileigh Harrison, Rachel Rogalski.

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