St. Marys’ Long will run at UC

Blue Devil trading his pitchfork for a new pair of golden wings

Photo by Jay W. Bennett St. Marys’ Zac Long, seen here running a leg of a relay event, is taking his track and field talents to the University of Charleston for the next four seasons.

ST. MARYS –Zach Long, an athlete who has competed for St. Marys High School the past 4 years, has signed on to compete for University of Charleston’s track and field program.

The decision to compete at the next level was always something Long had considered. He got his start running competitively during his middle-school years and has since gone on to be a competitive force as a Blue Devil.

“Running is a tool,” said Long. “It’s taught me a lot about hard work. Running is not really my passion. What I’m passionate about is the things it unlocks for me.”

Long started looking at different higher-education schools his sophomore year. It was his time spent on the track where he began considering the idea of testing his mettle in NCAA venues.

It was from word of mouth he began looking at University of Charleston.

“I knew the coach [University of Charleston] from meeting him at the state meet one year, maybe my junior year,” said Long. “And I have a lot of former running mates who go to UC, and people who go to my church that used to go to my school. I was able to talk to those kids.”

During his time at Pleasants County’s only high school, Long specialized in mid-distance running, specifically the 400-meter dash, but eventually also found another home in the 200.

When it came down to leave everything out on the track at regional meets, Long would always find a way to deliver for his school and qualify for states.

“It was really special,” said Long. “We have a unique program, and the coaches are always trying to help people achieve to the best of their ability.”

This track season, just a month before the state meet, Long sustained an injury that would hinder his performance at Laidley Field.

“Four weeks before the state meet I ended up pulling my hamstring,” said Long. ” I was afraid that my coaches, friends, and parents were going to push me to come back sooner than I should have.

His coaches, friends and parents were supportive though and let him take the time to recover from his injury.

“I did come back for the regional track meet and qualified for the 400 meter,” said Long. “I haven’t gone full stride since the injury, but I’m confident that I’ll be able to go 100 percent by the time I get to Charleston.”

His peers know him as a driven track athlete, but Long has other goals beyond the world of track and field once he begins his life as a Golden Eagle.

“What I want to major in is political science and do the pre-law track,” said Long. “This summer I’m working for a prosecuting attorney just to experience what it’s like behind the scenes in a court room.”

Deciding on where you want to go and what you want do after graduation is a big decision that many high school students face every year. Long realizes the opportunity that has presented itself to him and doors competitive track has opened. While he might not want to compete professionally, he said he will never stop running.

“I try and treat my body like a temple,” said Long. “University of Charleston has made an investment in me so I will try to give them 100 percent.”