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Zirkel brings home three silver medals

Bev Barr Contributor

Austin Zirkel brings home 3 silver medals for running events at the State UIL Track and Field Competition last week.

Austin Zirkel, of Medina, medaled in three running events at the state level UIL Track and Field competition last week. On Thursday, Zirkel completed the 3,200-meter race (about two miles) in nine minutes 45 seconds and 75/100th of a second (9:45.75) — breaking the state record for 1A schools and trimming seconds off his personal best.
But that’s not all. On Friday, he did it again! Zirkel earned a silver medal for the 800-meter sprint (about ½ mile) early in the day, crossing the finish line in less than two minutes — 1:59.80.
Zirkel raced his way to a third silver medal later in the day with the 1600-meter running event with a time of 4:31.01, again breaking the state record and improving his personal best record.
Zirkel’s main competitor in the 1A division was Jake Merrell, from Turkey Valley, who stands a full foot taller than Zirkel. In an interview following the 3200-meter race, Zirkel described the height difference as a little intimidating — but apparently, not so much. Zirkel’s run times often beat the times of his peers in other divisions, including 4A schools.
“I think it’s a mental game. I don’t think it’s talent. … I’ve tried other sports, but I know I’m not going to grow six inches and put on a 100 pounds of muscle,” he said.
When training for long distance cross-country running, Zirkel wears a Garmin Fitness Watch, which provides instantaneous and useful information to the competitor, such as pace per mile. But during track season, he doesn’t wear a watch at all during his training runs. Those 3-mile runs are all about staying fit and “loose.”
Zirkel is conscientious about nutrition and steers clear of sweets and junk food. He also drinks at least a gallon of water a day.
“I’m very strict with myself,” he said. “No soda, no sweet teas.”
Zirkel has one more year at Medina High School to continue to compete with himself and break more records at sanctioned school competitions.