Senior Send-Off: Zachary Stewart - Cooper

Zachary Stewart - Cooper

Personal Bests

  • 3,200 Meter Run 9:17.31
  • 5,000 Meter Run 15:25.33
  • One Mile Run4:20.81

(Zach after winning the 2015 5K Showdown)

What was my most memorable race?

One of my most memorable races was at the Great American cross country festival where I surprised everyone (including myself) by running a 15:30 and placing 5th. In the course at Wake Med, pretty much the whole second half of the race you are in the woods where few of the spectators make the journey down to see so the last knowledge anybody had of where I placed was I was around 20th place at the half way point. When I came out of the woods in 5th and started to head up the 500m hill to the finish I could hear the surprise and energy in all of Cooper’s yells. Not only did my individual performance impress many, but we had 3 guys sub 16 and we beat St X for the first time in school history to end up coming in 7th in a very competitive race. This was the first time our team really performed well that season and our whole team was in good spirits.

Out of all my high school achievements, what stands out the most?

Placing second to Cole Dowdy in the AAA State 3200m was in my opinion my best achievement. This race was one of the best races I have ever been in, and I am so proud of my efforts. I did not think I would lose if I ran a 62 second last lap, but that’s what happened and I have to tip my cap to Cole for being the better runner. Having said that, I think it is quite an accomplishment for me to double up on the 4x800 and 3200 and still was really close to winning. The second place finish was the best finish I have ever had at state and it was less than a second off of my PR.

If I could do it all over, what would I change?

I do not have any regrets about racing or training. The one thing I would say is I wish I spent more time getting to know some of the awesome people in the running community. I have gotten to know some amazing people through our sport, and I wonder how many people I missed out on by maybe taking the meet to seriously. I have become good friends with many of the northern Kentucky runners, specifically Eric Baugh and Justin Reed, and I always enjoy talking with the dowdy twins when I have the chance. All are stellar guys and I wish I spent more time in the community aspect of running.

What were the most difficult obstacles I had to overcome?

I was lucky enough to have a (for the most part) healthy running career. My junior year I was in really good shape and I developed a stress fracture that took me out for the month of October right before post season cross country races which really put a dent in what I think I could have done that year, but besides that I really haven’t had many obstacles. I have been lucky to have an amazing coach, supportive parents, and truly the best teammates anyone could ask for.

What will I miss most?

I will miss dearly Cooper Cross Country and Track and Field. The family that I have gotten closer to the last 6 years of my life have been the best thing that has ever happened to me. The “XC Boys” were voted “bromance” at our senior superlatives because our school acknowledges the love we have for our teammates. Our families have become close, my coach is the best role model I could ever have, and the good times we have had cannot be replicated. These guys have had my back and loved me for 6 years and I am going to miss this community more than anything. I am lucky out of the 10 seniors that ran for Cooper this year, 5 of us are running D1 XC and Track at EKU. I am excited for the future, but I am going to miss the past like crazy.

Do I have any advice for younger runners?

Do not be discouraged from where you start or are now, hard work will make you a champion. When I was in 7th grade my coach put me in long jump because I wasn’t fast enough to race anything. ( I jumped a whopping 11’7.75”). My freshman year I placed 116th at XC state, sophomore year I placed 65th, Junior year I placed 30th, and finally senior year I placed 5th. That kind of improvement is a product of not being discouraged when you get lapped in a JV mile or getting beat by minutes in a cross country race. This improvement was because of years and years of smart and hard training. You will get out of running what you put into it, and if you really put in the work, it will pay off. I am not naturally gifted, I worked for years to get where I am and if you are willing to put the work you will see results. So my advice: Work hard.

What are my College Plans?

I, along with 4 other seniors from Cooper, will be running cross country and track and field at Eastern Kentucky University. I am majoring in occupational sciences and for right now I plan on pursuing physical therapy or occupational therapy.

Who would I like to thank?

I wish to thank my family for putting up with my obsession with running for years and for supporting me in the best way possible and for all the gas money they have burned by watching me race. I want to thank all my coaches especially coach VanLaningham. Coach V has been not only a first class distance coach by training is smart and hard, but he has been an even better example of how to love others, care for our families, and what being a man truly is. He has been a role model in my life for years and I will keep in touch with him for years to come. I want to thank my brothers at Cooper XC for 5 years of memories. The whole team means so much to me and I would not be the runner or the person without them pushing me to be my best every day. Most importantly, I want to thank God for putting all these people in my life and making all of this possible.

If you are in the Class of 2015 and would like to have a Senior Send-Off, just answer the questions below and email them to

What was your most memorable meet or race?

Out of all your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?

If you could do it all over again, is there anything you would change?

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

What will you miss the most?

Do you have any advice for younger athletes?

What are your college/career plans?

Who would you like to thank?