“I love to run,” the Boonsboro junior said. “I’m really motivated by the fact that I love running.”
The sport of cross country brought out the best in her again this fall, as Zielinski was named The Herald-Mail’s Washington County Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year for the second straight year.
“She had a great season and did exactly what we asked her to do at most meets,” Boonsboro coach Becky Walter said. “She stepped it up a level, and she’s hungry for more. She already is looking forward to next year.”
Zielinski, who ran about 6 miles a day over the summer, opened the season by winning the small-school girls title at Clear Spring’s Interstate Classic in 19:10.6 - a time that also would have won the big-school race that day.
By the end of the season, she had won her second straight county title and first Maryland Class 1A West region crown and improved eight places from last year at the state meet with her second-place finish.
“None of them really stick out,” said Zielinski of her races. “The bad ones stick out, but no one wants to hear about those.”
There weren’t many bad days for her and the Warriors this season. But there certainly were plenty of good ones.
Perhaps the highlight was Zielinski leading the Boonsboro girls to their first county team title since 1995.
“That’s what cross country is, a team sport,” Zielinski said. “You want to do well individually, but the team comes first.”
While she said she was pleased with the Warriors’ runner-up team finish at states - after their next-to-last finish the previous year - she had hoped for more than second place individually. She wanted to be the state champion. But Perryville sophomore Jordan Dodson pulled away from her in the final mile.
“Now I know I have to work harder if I really want it, and I know I’ll want it even more next year,” she said.
Zielinski managed to cap her year with a second-place finish that more than satisfied her, earning runner-up honors in the junior race at the Foot Locker Northeast Cross Country Championships on Nov. 26 in New York.
“She was disappointed with the state meet results, but I think she more than redeemed herself at Foot Lockers,” Walter said. “She proved to me that she can handle the pressure and the big-meet situation.”
Joining Zielinski on The Herald-Mail’s all-county first team are:
Kortney Cunningham, Boonsboro
The sophomore placed eighth in 1A at states and was fourth in the county and 10th in the MVAL Antietam.
Meggan Grams, Williamsport