Salute To Seniors: David Zhang (Marriotts Ridge)

By Brian Lau

*I recognize that seniors should be writing the "salute" but I would like to salute a senior from our school who has been an important part for the past 4 years*

Name: David Zhang
School: Marriotts Ridge High School

Hi, I'm Brian Lau, a 9th grader from Marriotts Ridge High School. I've been running track and field for only two seasons to be exact, one indoor and one outdoor. I have raced or met many great guys throughout my two seasons, including state champions such as Kai Muniz and Greg Costello. However in the two seasons that I've been running, I would like to salute a senior named David Zhang for inspiring me to work my hardest and giving me times to chase.

David is a great competitor on the track, however a quiet one while he's at it. He lets his racing do the talking for him and has left many people behind him wondering how that skinny Asian guy who looks like he weighs less than a hundred pounds and hasn't eaten in weeks is beating me. I look up to him on the track, not only for being such a good runner, but for being a leader on the track and inspiring runners on our team such as me and his younger brother, Jonathan, to chase his times and be better than him.

Just last December at our first time trial for the indoor track season, I met David for the first time and saw him run. It was my first time running and I dreaded any and every workout or time trial we did, immediately wanting to quit. I ended up running a 2:32 800m, which I thought was good and would suffice as a good enough time for me, until I saw this senior kid named David run a 2:03 in freezing winter weather with shorts on.

Shocked, I asked him how he was able to even run below a 2:30. He responded smugly with,"I'm just fast like that, if you ran faster you could run a sub 2:30 too." Confused at his response, I trained the whole season, putting it all on the track, chasing David's times, hoping I would be able to run those times at some point

Long story short, I didn't end up running a 2:03 800m or anything close to that and only ended up running two meets the whole season, due to disappointing times, however it did make me a better and more disciplined runner, as well it gave me a new found love for running.

Flash forward to outdoor season, I came into the season, feeling fast and good. I had conditioned throughout the off-season and was ready to finally show that I was fast. It was our first meet of the season, me, David, and his brother were all lined up on the line ready to run the first 400m of the season. I had two goals in mind during this race, one was beating David or breaking 60 in the 400. Nevertheless, I never ended up beating him, however broke 60.

After the race, he came up to me congratulating me for breaking 60 and ended his congratulatory speech with"Keep working because a 59.7 shouldn't be a time you should be proud of, there were almost 30 people fast than you." Those words stuck with me throughout the whole season, in practice when I felt like quitting, I just remembered that the path to being good at anything and improving requires dedication and hard work even at practice.

Now, I no longer dreaded workouts, feeling myself getting better with every 200 and 400 meter repeat we did during practice (Thanks Coach Dubbs), since it was all apart of getting better and were necessary if I ever wanted to be great in the sport of track or beat his times.

I put all my effort out on the track during practices and they eventually paid off as the season progressed. As of now, I am not faster than David (yet), but have broken 2:30 in the 800 (2:11) and 59 in the 400 (57) all thanks to David and his pep talks reminding me that there's always someone better and that I could always do better.

David ended the season finally breaking 52 in the 400 meter dash after 4 years of running in his last high school race ever, the 4x400, which really showed that hard work paid off. I was grateful enough to run one of his last races with him, the 4x800, where we ran our season best of 8:42, which wouldn't be good enough to qualify for states. He would end up going to states for the long jump during outdoor and the 500 meter during indoor, which can only be dreamt by many, including myself.

If there was one thing I could take away from these two seasons with David, that would be to give it your all on the track and that there is always someone better. Thank you David and I wish you the best as you go off to college!