Allie Zolkiewicz was a sophomore when former South Carroll track coach Bill Gerhold suggested a source of nourishment that would provide a quick boost of energy for her and her Cavaliers teammates
Zolkiewicz continued to utilize this method to ease her transition between events at every meet. So far, it has worked in her favor as she repeated this winter as county champion champion in the 300- and 500-meter dashes, and the 800 run.
The Cavaliers senior won the 500 and 800 at the Class 2A West meet to help the team win its first regional title. She won the same two events at the 2A state meet two weeks later, and also ran the anchor leg on the Cavs’ 4x400 relay that took second.
The Times Girls Indoor Track Athlete of the Year for a third straight year owes much of her success, however, to that baby food — Banana Orange Medley in particular.
“I know I have to get ready for the next event so right after one finishes, I don’t always have time to think ‘That was awesome’ or ‘That was disappointing,’” Zolkiewicz said. “It’s on to the next one and I want to run well, so the baby food helps a lot. The support from my teammates is great and they help me out if I’m cooling down and don’t have much time to go to where our team area is. They help me with water and food and stuff, so it’s a great support system.”
Altogether, Zolkiewicz won three individual county titles and three state titles, and qualified in four events. Seven of her performances rank in the county’s all-time list, including four from states, the most by any Carroll girl.
SC’s 4x400 relay team’s second-place finish (4:08.32) at the state meet this season broke Liberty’s regional record time of 4:09.8 from 2012. The Cavs capped the indoor season as state runners-up to champion River Hill.
“It’s crazy how athletic she is,” first-year coach Kevin Selby said. “We have great mile runners in the county and I think she could have placed in the county pretty highly. I don’t think she’s ever run it but she has so much strength and endurance, not just physical strength, but she has a lot of mental strength. She just keeps going and going and going. She never complains about workouts because she can do all of them, not that I feel like she would complain anywhere, but anywhere we needed her, we could put her.”
Selby’s introduction with Zolkiewicz was at a prospective athletes meeting before the season started. He said she waited until after the meeting to introduce herself, and he could sense a level of maturity as she spoke.
Her knowledge of the sport exceeds expectations, Selby said. Zolkiewicz was always well aware of the difficult state competition and would break down with Selby what events she thought the team could excel in, as well as those she thought the team would have trouble with.
Zolkiewicz competed in eight individual events, winning three gold medals, three silver medals and two bronze medals over the course of her indoor career. In addition, she ran on six relays, winning two and finishing second in two others, according to notes compiled by Gerhold.
As it stands, Zolkiewicz has won her last seven individual events at the county meet ranging from the 55 dash to the 800. She currently holds meet records in the 500 and 800.
“What’s important about Allie is her passion for running,” said Gerhold, who first started coaching Zolkiewicz when she was 11. “This is it for her, other girls have soccer or field hockey, but this is her No. 1 sport and always has been. She’s ran so many miles in seven years and that’s a lot of races. The races she runs can be so intense but she still does it because she loves running. That’s really the No. 1 reason she continues to do it.”
Zolkiewicz looks to close out her high school career with one final outdoor season before heading to Virginia Tech in the fall to compete at the next level. She’s already in outdoor mode, but takes a moment to reflect on her final indoor season with the Cavaliers.
“It’s been rewarding,” Zolkiewicz said. “Coming into the season, we had the mindset that we wanted to go out there and show everyone what South Carroll girls could do. It was great to see all of our hard work in practice pay off. We were putting in extra hours when we had weather delays and couldn’t have practice.