Bio

DON KETCHUM is a native of Phoenix. He was a sportswriter for The Arizona Republic/The Phoenix Gazette for more than three decades. He covered high school sports on several occasions as well as the Arizona Diamondbacks, Arizona Cardinals and Arizona State sports. From 2008-14, he was a staff writer for AIA365.com, the web site of the Arizona Interscholastic Association.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Zacher gives Xavier track plenty of zip


Megan Zacher has kissed the state soccer championship trophy for Xavier Prep. Now she would like nothing better than to hang a first-place medal around her neck at this week’s Division I state track meet.

Zacher, a sophomore, has three chances to accomplish that – in the 800-meter run, the 4x800 relay and the 4x400 relay.

The meet will run Wednesday (May 2) and Saturday (May 5). Wednesday’s schedule will consist mainly of preliminary events, but there will be a few final races thrown in, such as the 4x800.

Zacher will be running in the 4x800 for the first time this season after helping the Gators finish second in the event a year ago. She is expected to be the leadoff leg, followed by freshman Sammy Braun, junior Karina Hawkins and senior Kinsey Ehmann, Zacher’s friend and soccer teammate.


Xavier sophomore Megan Zacher has a passion for running and, as the shirt says, soccer. (Photo by Don Ketchum).
The preliminaries for the 4x400 will be held Wednesday, with finals on Saturday. Zacher likely will run second in that one, behind junior Jada Sims and ahead of sophomore Sophie Brohard and Ehmann.

In the 800 that will be run Saturday, Zacher is coming off one of her strongest races of the year in the recent Northeast Valley Championships. Zacher will be attempting to outperform favorite Morgan Foster of Chandler High. Ehmann and Braun also should be in that race.

“I am motivated to do better, do my best, each time out there,’’ said Zacher, who finished 15th as a freshman. “I think I am showing more maturity.

“In the relays, we have that passion, have that drive. We have good team chemistry and when you go out there to run, you are doing it for your teammates.’’

Her success in the 800 “is just doing what comes naturally. I think about strategy, but you don’t want to think too much. Once you get out on the track, you have to be ready. Sometimes I get some nervous energy before, but once the race starts, it usually goes away.’’

Because her mother was a runner in college, Zacher has inherited those traits.

She began running competitively as a freshman, and played on Xavier’s JV soccer team. She moved up to varsity soccer last winter, where she played left back.

Xavier head track and field coach Dave Van Sickle also coaches the school’s cross-country team, and says he has “lobbied’’ to get her to join.

Even if he can’t win her over, he will be happy to have her in track.

“She’s got that long stride and she is going to be really good,’’ he said.

Sprints coach Ryan Regula said Zacher “is doing a great job. She is really a competitor, really self-driven.’’

Zacher’s workouts usually are for speed one day, endurance the next.

“You need both,’’ she said.

To win a state track event or two and as a team “would show that your hard work really pays off. It would be amazing.’’

Others to watch – Mia Olsen, Karina Hawkins, Helen Innes and Jamie Stelnik in the 1,600, Bisola Ojeniyi,Leila Grant, Johnnie Mitchell and Ololade Adebayo on the 4x100 relay, Olsen, Stelnik and Innes in the 3,200, Kendall Swanson in the javelin, Sims in the high jump, long jump, 100-meter hurdles and the 4x400 and Grant in the 300 intermediate hurdles.

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