Like so many athletes across the country, Zach Haire’s season came to a premature end this spring due to the coronavirus. Despite the unfortunate situation, Haire was one of the lucky college athletes who had already been competing throughout his first year of college.
The Breckenridge grad helped his St. Thomas squad to the NCAA Division III Cross-Country Championships in the fall and went on to earn All-Conference honors during his indoor track season.
“It went a lot better than I was actually expecting. St. Thomas was a late choice for me and I didn’t know if I was even going to be running cross-country and track right away,” Haire said. “I definitely know I made the right decision looking back on it now. Those first two seasons were absolutely incredible. I can’t imagine not running in college now.”
Haire made multiple trips to the state meet in cross-country while also qualifying for state in track and wrestling. The former Cowboy has added some distance to his competitions with longer races at the college level.
“They go up to the 5K in indoor track and they also do a 3K. Those were the only two events that I ran in. I’m glad that they have a 5K because I do like the longer stuff,” Haire said. “In outdoor, I was planning on doing the 5K and the 10K actually. I like that college has the option to go longer than the mile and two-mile that they have in high school.”
Haire had multiple teammates who were at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships when the spring season came to a screeching halt.
“It was tough, but I’m just glad we were able to finish indoor conference. I can’t even imagine that happening, especially to those seniors,” Haire said.
The freshman is thankful that he continue to work at his craft unlike other sports.
“I’m definitely bummed the outdoor season got cut short, but I’m just happy that running is one of those things you can go out and do anytime during this,” Haire said. “Your resources aren’t really limited so I’m just happy I can keep training. I restructured my training schedule, but it’s really good for me. I think I’ll be ready to go by next cross-country season.”
Haire has teamed up with another former Cowboy running track in college, Hunter Gowin. The North Dakota State runner has been pushing his former teammate and sometimes his brother, Sawyer Gowin, joins them on his bike.
Haire admitted being back in Breck earlier than expected was a blessing because he needed some much-needed family time.
“I wasn’t back home until right after Christmas so it was nice,” Haire said. “I’m just thinking of it as an extended vacation with the family and it’s really good. I’m enjoying it here at home.”
Haire declared his accounting major and is preparing to register for next semester’s classes. He’ll be living and working in his hometown until late August when cross-country starts back up.
The former All-State runner said he’d recommend college athletics to anybody considering it.
“Just the experiences, the people and the relationships you’re able to foster are truly incredible,” Haire said. “Even if you may think that it takes away some of your time, it helps you prioritize just like it did in high school. You definitely got time for everything and it just makes the experience so much more.”
Whereas most athletes are focused on their canceled or suspended season, Haire has the current high school seniors on his mind.
“My heart goes out to all the seniors out there, especially in high school,” Haire said. “Getting their spring season cut short, I can’t imagine going through that if this were to happen last year.”