Potterville boys track and field coach Dan Brunk was able to witness a remarkable sophomore season from Zach Wright, who was only in his second varsity campaign.
But now, he’s a Division 4 state champion.
“Zach was already a pretty talented athlete, but he has had a nice break through this season in a couple of additional events,” Brunk said. “He’s a strong anchor leg on the 4×800 this year and led us to a top-five finish at the MHSAA finals (1:56.35 split). He was an MHSAA State Champion (4:27) in the 1,600 meters. He was a state qualifier in the 800 meters, but scratched to focus on the 4×400. “Zach’s 0:51 split in the 4×400 was critical to our success this season with a highlight at the Greater Lansing Honor Roll Meet of Champions where his team finished third behind Ionia and East Lansing. Zach has an incredible desire to win and is never afraid to work hard to make that happen. He gets pushed by some pretty talented teammates in practice every day.”
The 800 meters was a unique event for Wright.
“There’s not a huge improvement in the 1,600 meters or his 400-meter split because they were already pretty impressive,” Brunk said. “But Zach had an enormous breakout year in the 800 meters this year to show his overall versatility. I would say Zach’s maturity and leadership was a huge improvement from last year. As a freshman, Zach was more focused on his individual events; this year he was proud to sacrifice some individual events for the good of his relays. I also think Zach improved in his ability to go hard in multiple events, rather than feeling he was only good for one or two events each meet.
“Zach is a pretty special 1,600 meter runner, so I would have to say his CMAC conference final in the 1,600 meters his freshman year was pretty impressive. This year he was CMAC conference champion in the 4×800 and the open 800 meters which was an incredible accomplishment. His 1:56 split at the MHSAA finals in the 4×800 was shocking, only to come back with an impressive tactical 1,600 meters to become a state champion.”
Brunk admits Wright was a pleasant surprise.
“I never expected Zach to accomplish so much for our team this season,” Brunk said. “Zach will agree that he could always do more, and is aware that he struggles to motivate himself in the off season. He does work hard with teammates in the off-season, he generally isn’t the one organizing the workouts, however. I’m sure as he matures he will realize his role in this area is important. Zach played JV basketball and was an incredible defensive player because he is so fast and such a competitor. His hobby is bowling, which I believe will become his winter sport along with indoor track in 2020.
“I have coached a number of state champions in my 22 years of coaching track, but I can’t say I’ve ever had an athlete that has more desire to win than Zach. He has an incredible threshold that allows him to go places most athletes wouldn’t dare.”
As a team, “Potterville qualified all four relays for the state finals this year,” Brunk said. “Our strength was certainly in the middle distance or long sprint events. We were pretty young in the field events, so experience this year for many was the key.”