Athlete Spotlight: Zack Truitt of Landmark Christian

(photos by Daniel McCauley)

In our first of a long series of 'Athlete Spotlights' on cross country runners from the 2020 season, we begin with A Private state champ, senior Zack Truitt of Landmark Christian. 

When did you first start running, and do you recall any of your childhood races?

I started running when I was probably about 4. I grew up at the track due to my sister and brother's careers in running. We were at Clinton farms and my sister had just won a race and I told my dad I wanted a trophy like hers. So I signed up for the pre-k race and won it. I started Club track when I was 7 and have been running at Landmark Christian school since 6th grade.

Was there a certain moment when you realized you'd be able to compete at such a high level?

I realized I could compete at a high level when I was 7. I started club track under a coach named Vaughn Williams. My father and coach Vaughn were the coaches in my youth. I would go around the races in the club circuit and I started winning some. I eventually made it to the state championships for GRPA and that is when I realized I was good.

What are some bumps in the road that you've encountered when it comes to training for different events during the season?

I would say the biggest bump is the many coaches I've had throughout my career. In high school, I have had 3 different coaches. As a high schooler, that is big. Three different types of training with three different coaches leads to some hard times. In high school, there are three factors that make you jump from good to great. They are training, competition, and consistency. Since I never had that consistency of coaching, it was hard to stay at such a high level.

How did COVID impact your training as you prepared for the season?

Covid took away my track season. As a high schooler, to me, the mile is an important growth stage in running. Not having those races caused me not to be able to not be able to run the event that is so important as a runner. It was more of a mental challenge caused by Covid since I couldn't perform with the best, but I had to rely on myself.

How did it feel to win the A Private state title and tell us about your race?

It felt great! I went to into the race with a strategy to go from the gun and that's what I did. I went pretty fast through the first mile fast and just tried to hold the pace. It was definitely a different race than previous years with Graham and Devin but it was nice to finally win my first cross country state title.

 How did you prepare for RunningLane XC last Saturday and tell us about your race?

I did most of the usual things I usually do. The major thing I worked on though was mentally preparing myself. I knew I could hang with those boys, I just had to tell that to myself. The race went out fast, with a 4:33, but us Georgia boys usually do that anyway so I wasn't too worried haha. I started dropping after the hill at mile two but kept pushing. It was a little disappointing to be 2 seconds off of breaking 15, but all in all, it was a great race.

If you had to pick: Track and Field or Cross Country, and why?

Track and field. Track has always been more special to me. It is more people in different events, different backgrounds, all coming together as one group. This is important to me that no matter what you are good at, there is a spot for you on the team. I also like track because there is a wider spectrum of events I can run in. I can run the 4x400 with my team back to back with the dreaded 3200 if I wanted to.

Where are you going to college? If you have already committed, what made you choose them?

I chose Georgia Tech for many reasons. One is the coaches. Coach Drosky and Coach Megasi are one of the best coaching staffs in the country. Coach Drosky was always very personable on the phone and I could tell he had a spot on the team perfect for me. With the problems of not being able to go on visits, I had to rely on phone calls and campus visits with my family. The good thing is I know the team already because most of the boys are from Georgia. The boys are amazing and I can tell something special is coming.

Is there another track event you wish you were good at? What is appealing about it?

I like the events I am good at. For me, I have a big range. I can run the 2-mile all the way down to the 400. I don't think I would change this because I love being able to run so many different events.

What are some hobbies and interests you have outside of running?

I like disc golf haha.

Who is your role model, and why?

My role model is David Kilgore. David ran for Colorado, and now is a member of the Lost Boys track club. He is also a rep for the On running club. He showed me that you can do anything, even if that is the Rio marathon down and back haha. He is a great guy and I aspire to be like him one day.

Everyone has a bucket list, so give us some of the things on your list!

Own a Porsche, own a wake surf boat, run in the Olympics

What is the best advice you have received?

This is from a movie called Tomorrowland, My favorite movie. There are two wolves, who are always fighting. One is hope and light and one is darkness and despair. The question is which wolf wins? The one you feed.

What is your favorite pre-race snack, tradition, etc.?

The food I eat before I race is always peanut butter jelly.

If you could do a sport other than XC/Track, what sport would it be, and why?

I would probably surf competitively. Even though I have never surfed, I love watching the waves and people going in and out, creating their own paths.