Lakewood Ranch High senior Kristin Zarrella captured her first individual state championship by crossing the finish line in 2:16.45 to win the 800-meter run at the Class 3A state finals May 3, at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville.
Zarrella, who will be running for Southern Mississippi next year, won the race by a little more than one second.
Zarrella also anchored the Lady Mustangs 4x400 relay team. She finished the season with 11 first-place finishes and set personal records in the 400 and 800.
It means a lot to me, definitely. It’s really just what I’ve been wanting the last four years, and it finally all came together. I took track more seriously this year, and I’m really happy it paid off.
I had a really bad start. I was second-to-last the first 200 meters or so, but I managed to move up a couple of times. Strategically, it was one of my better races. Coming around the last bend, I thought, ‘If I can sustain this pace, then I’ve got this.’ At that point, I kind of knew. I didn’t consider what I would do if I won, though, so it was all instinct, and I just threw my hands up in the air.
I’ve learned that I can surprise myself and that hard work and dedication really will pay off.
I’m going to miss my teammates. Over the past four years being together, we’ve gotten so close with all of the training that we do and the ups and downs.
I’m looking forward to improving next year, and I think my school of choice will enable me to get a lot better. I’m excited to see where running will take me.
If I weren’t a distance runner, then I would want to do the 100. It’s the shortest. It’s so easy. I’ve learned to appreciate the shorter distances.