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Zirkel wins 5th in nation at Junior Olympics

By Bev Barr

Austin Zirkel made his way to Eastern Michigan University last week to compete in the Junior Olympics. His completed the 2000 meter Steeple Chase (with barriers and a water pit) in his best time yet — 6 minutes 26 seconds.
Racers need a strategy in order to win, and with about 50 fast competitors to beat, Zirkel employed a deceptively straightforward strategy.
“I knew the guys that were gonna win it,” Zirkel said. “So I decided to stick with them.” His strategy paid off. Zirkel finished fifth place in the nation, and brought another shiny medal home to add to the rapidly growing collection of wins.
Zirkel’s been running and racing all summer, bringing home 1st place in a 3200 meter race at the regional level competition with a time of 9:55, and a 2nd place in the 1600 meter race with a time of 4:36.
At the state competition in McAllen, he place 2nd in the 3200 meter with 9:56, but had terrible blisters on his feet and was unable to compete in the 1600 meter at that meet. His speed at the regional competition in late June at Trinity University, however, qualified him to compete at the national level and to start out in the fastest heap.
These days, Zirkel is preparing for cross-country racing with the team at Medina High School, although the first day of practice was rained out. The course for cross country is a 5K, just over 3 miles, and usually includes a variety of off-road terrain.
Coach Taylor, of Medina ISD, has arranged for this year’s cross-country team to compete with bigger schools, 5A and 6A schools such as New Braunfels. Zirkel can hardly wait.