The perception is understandable, that premier sprinters are just born that way.
Practice, according to this premise, is at least partly irrelevant. Championship sprinters can just line up and use their raw speed to overwhelm the competition.
Pinkerton senior Zach Cicio definitely has the needed speed but he also knows that it takes more to be a sprint champion. And he’s willing to do what it takes to become one.
Last year, he was second at state in the 300 (36.25) and third in the 55 (6.72) indoors and finished second outdoors in the 200 with a 22.40. It was a good year, but not entirely what he was hoping for.
So this fall, in preparation for the track seasons, he spent time training with sprint coach Carol Quarles, working on form, technique and plenty of leg strength.
He came into the indoor season ready to go, winning the 55 in his first meet with a 6.6, which ties his personal best, and doubling in the 300 with a fine early-season 37.7.
“It (off-season training) definitely paid off,” said Cicio, a 5-foot-8, 155-pounder from Hampstead. “My out-of-season training brought me into the season feeling like I did at the end of last year.”
When you combine that with Cicio’s fast starts out of the blocks, it’s clear that he’s aiming for a big year.
“I’m pretty confident in my starts — I think it’s one of my strong points,” said Cicio. “I worked on it a lot last year in outdoor track and it suddenly just clicked.
“I’m hoping to get my 300 down to the high 35s (seconds) and win state and (outdoors) get my 200 time down in the 21s, be the fastest in New Hampshire, go to the regional and nationals.”
Cicio is definitely serious about track. He gave up lacrosse last year for outdoor track, he didn’t continue with soccer, despite enjoying considerable success, so that he could work (in landscaping) and focus on track and he rebuffed efforts to get him out for football.
“Coach (Brian) O’Reilly asked me last year if I’d be interested in playing in the fall,” said Cicio. “I thought about it, but I decided I just wanted to concentrate on track.
“I liked lacrosse and had fun with it, but I liked track more. I like to run and I liked the guys on the track team. It’s a better fit.”
Cicio’s dedication to track and field has not gone unnoticed. It’s also why Pinkerton head indoor track coach Ian French is confident that he’ll have a big senior season.
“He really wanted to contend this winter and spring for a chance to win the state meet in the sprinting events,” said French. “He went to our sprinting coach (Quarles) and asked what he needed to do if he wanted to win and basically set about doing it
“Plenty of guys are willing to show up and work hard during the season, doing it during the time of the year where you don’t have to is the difference between a guy who comes in second or third and a champion.”
French hopes that the focus helps cap his track career on a high note. He’s planning on attending the UNH Applied Science for Horticulture branch with the long range goal of opening his own landscaping business, so he doesn’t at this time anticipate competing beyond high school.