It took Zosh Heilig only four races last outdoor track and field season to establish himself as one of the top 400 meter runners in the state.Now that he’ll be on the same training pace as the other long sprinters, Heilig may distinguish himself even more.The outdoor season is still three months away, but for the more serious high school athletes, it all begins with indoor season this month. Heilig, a Concord High senior, will experiment with indoor for the first time and will test himself in the 300 meters.Most “indoor” meets are actually held outdoors, but running events are measured in distances that are different from outdoor distances. For Cabarrus County’s athletes, the season culminates with the 1A/2A/3A state championship meet on Feb. 8 at the JDL Fast Track indoor facility in Winston-Salem.For more than two-and-a-half seasons, Heilig was one of Concord’s best short distance sprinters. Aside from the jumping events he competed in as a freshman, Heilig’s main races were the 100- and 200-meter events.More than halfway into the spring’s outdoor season, Brian Floyd and his fellow Spiders coaches, Jill Gardiner and Steve Dunagan, conferred about how effective Heilig was as a short sprinter. He was Concord’s fastest runner but he wasn’t scoring many points against conference rivals because their sprinters were even faster.Prior to the team’s last regular season meet, Floyd informed Heilig that he was entering him in the 400 meters. Ever the team player, Heilig granted his approval.“I’ll try anything, really,” said Heilig.At a meet at Jay M. Robinson High, Floyd determined that he would have been pleased with Heilig running a time that was no worse than 53.5 seconds. When Heilig turned in a 52:00, Floyd wondered why he hadn’t entered Heilig in the 400 meters earlier in the season.“He won the race,” said Floyd. “I looked at Steve and just nodded and thought ‘Yeah.’ ”In his second 400-meter race, Heilig finished second in the South Piedmont 3A meet. At the Midwest regional meet, Heilig logged a personal-best time of 49.92 and finished in third place behind two seniors. He was eighth at the state meet.Floyd characterizes the 400 meters as “a warrior spirit race. It’s not fun or flashy. It’s a mixture of speed and heart and he has the talent. The thing about Zosh is he definitely has the heart.”Heilig has his own unique perspective.“You have to pace yourself,” he says.“And think about how you’re going to run the race. You run the first 100 meters like your running the sprint, then you pace yourself. You have to cruise. But for the last 200 meters, you have to give it all you’ve got. Your legs are hurting but you have to give all you got.”The 300-meter distance may be even better suited to Heilig’s stamina and long stride. With fewer competitors than outdoor track and field, Heilig could easily be one of the state’s top runners.Heilig says he has been running on his own time during the offseason. He hasn’t had much time since late summer though. Heilig is also a standout wide receiver on the Concord football team.Often using his speed to zip by helpless defensive backs, Heilig was second on the team with 703 receiving yards before the Spiders were slated to play Morganton Freedom in the 3A state semifinal Nov. 23.
Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012
First-time indoor runner looks to excel for Spiders
Zosh Heilig will run during the indoor track season for the first time. The Concord senior was one of the top 300-meter runners during the outdoor season. COURTESY OF RACHEL DUQUETTE
Athletes to watch • Chris Allman, Mount Pleasant sprints • Tandria Jelks, Concord hurdles • Talvanisha Lawing, A.L. Brown sprints • Maddie Lowe, Northwest Cabarrus long distance • Brooke McElwain, Mount Pleasant pole vault • Elizabeth Olesen, Hickory Ridge high jump • Jordan Warren, Hickory Ridge triple jump