In all of Minnesota Class A, only one male cross-country runner is selected for the Minnesota High School Cross Country Coaches Association College Scholarship. Zach Haire, a 2019 Breckenridge graduate and former BW Harrier, earned the prestigious honor.
“I was pretty surprised when I got it. Out of everyone in Class A it’s a pretty big deal, so I was really happy that I got it,” Haire said. “It was a really nice surprise when I got the call about the scholarship.”
Haire and the other three selections, one girl from Class A along with one boy and one girl for Class AA, met the exclusive criteria. The runners had to have a 3.75 cumulative GPA in high school or have earned Academic All-State honors, had to compete all four years of high school in the sport and had to letter in two years.
Haire made a pair of trips to the Minnesota State Cross-Country Meet, earning All-State honors in both races. His junior year he finished 25th and his final season he took 12th.
“I think they took a look at the accolades and stuff like state appearances and different awards you’ve won within your cross-country team,” Haire said.
Haire’s former head coach, Larry Lasch, and a pair of teachers wrote letters of recommendation for the standout athlete. He also had to write an essay of his own on how the sport impacted his life.
“I think all high school sports (taught me) the hard-work atmosphere,” Haire said. “Running with Hunter (Gowin) and running with the team everyday, building that brotherhood and that team community really helped. That’s the main thing I got out of it.”
Haire also participated in wrestling and track and field in high school. He enjoys the aspect of seeing his hard work pay off by watching time drop off a personal best.
“Running is one of those sports where you can see the improvements right away,” Haire said. “In other sports it’s harder to see like in basketball you can’t see directly if you’re making huge strides, but running it directly correlates to your time when you improve your speed.”
The BHS valedictorian, who is either going to pursue a degree in accounting or business management, said his time playing sports in high school got him prepared for cross-country and track in college, which he’s running at St. Thomas.
“It really has taught me discipline and that’s something I learned here at college. It’s a whole new animal,” Haire said. “You have to be toned in, you have to get your sleep every night, tone in your diet so you can’t overeat and stuff like that. It’s tough with the food choice and the unlimited meal plan here, but you’ve got to be really disciplined with yourself to have the energy each day you go out there and grind it out. If you’re not, you’re letting your team down.”
Haire’s first season of cross-country was the same year the Twin Towns formed their co-op. He commended his coach for making the transition smooth for everyone involved.
“When that co-op happened I didn’t know how it was going to play out, but the way the communities have come together, the team atmosphere, the success and the numbers they’re seeing now is pretty incredible,” Haire said. “I attribute that to Coach Lasch, his coaching style and the hard-working atmosphere that was established with him. I want to see that tradition carry on.”