Grainger Today Correspondent
TUSCALOSSA, ALABAMA – University of Tennessee junior and Grainger County native Zach Long continues to earn accolades as a member of the 2017 University of Tennessee Cross-Country team. In the South Regional run at Harry Pritchard Running Park in Tuscaloosa last Friday, Long was the top University of Tennessee finisher. He placed 21st in the event, with a time of 31:30.8 for the 10K run.
Long has led the Volunteer cross-country team in each of the team’s five races this year. “This is the best cross-country for the University of Tennessee since 2010,” said Long, who led Tennessee to a fifth-place finish in the South Region. “We’re moving in a good direction, and we had three true freshmen step up this season. With everyone back, we want to make it to the team nationals next year.”
In the cross-country season, Long has had three top-10 finishes, been named SEC Runner of the Week as well as being named All-SEC for the 2017 season.
He has now topped those awards off by being named to the All-South Region Division One Cross-Country team, which was announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross-Country Coaches Association.
After a couple of weeks to rest and recuperate, Long will plunge into the indoor track and field competitions along with his Volunteer teammates. In the past, Long has run more frequently in the one mile race but for this year he will be changing his focus to the 3,000 and 5,000 meter events. “I’m excited about it,” said Long. “It’s a shorter season, so it’s important to get a top 16 time early as this will qualify you for the nationals. During the season, you don’t have a chance to go head-to-head with other runners.”
In discussing his success, Long continues to be the humble and down-to-earth man that he has always been. “I’m just grateful for the opportunity to run in an orange uniform,” said Long. “It’s a dream come true, and I’m trying to make the most of it. Although we know that cross-country is not the most popular sport in Grainger County, it’s amazing all the support I’ve received, and I’m thankful for all the people that follow me.”