Wildcats cross into new territory

FINAL RUN: Evart's David Zinger wrapped up his cross country career with a second place finish at the state final. (Pioneer file photo)
FINAL RUN: Evart’s David Zinger wrapped up his cross country career with a second place finish at the state final. (Pioneer file photo)

Senior runners go out with a bang; underclassmen looking to continue success

EVART — Max Hodges will be back for another season but Evart’s one-two cross country combination of David Zinger and Logan Hammer have run their last race.

But it’s one they and Wildcat sports observers won’t soon forget.

Zinger was second, Hodges seventh and Hammer 12th for all-state honors. The solid contribution from the leaders, combined with Santana Scott and Zach Douglas as the fourth and fifth runners, gave Evart enough points to take second place as team.

Zinger fired in at second place individually in 15:52.8

“Almost to the two-mile marker, that’s when I felt it was going to be a good race for all of us, especially for me because I knew what I was feeling like,” he said. “It was a good feeling.”

Concord’s Jessie Hersha, a sophomore, finished first in 15:32.3.

“He was out there and every time I saw him...there was some hope but he kicked it into the last half-mile and ended up with the win,” Zinger said. “He ran smart.”

Zinger started running as an eighth-grader.

“I was more of a natural runner so it was easier for me to get into the sport,” Zinger said, adding that he was able to improve each season.

Zinger wasn’t overly happy with how he was running in September but then took off in October and wound up being a Division 4 state runner-up.

“It was a matter of trusting my coach, having fun running,” Zinger said. “I worked hard through it and trusted my coaches.”

Zinger said he’s definitely planning on college cross country.

“I just know I’ll be running somewhere,” he said. “I’m not sure where yet.”

Hammer said he’s been accepted at Ferris State University for the welding and engineering program and plans to walk on for the cross country program.

Hammer ran seventh grade track and began cross country in eighth grade. “I was never very good,” he said. “I had to run every day over the eighth grade summer into ninth grade. Then I came back and was second on the team.

“Physically, I feel I ran better my junior year. I think I got better every year as runner. I respected running more every year. I found out what it means to be a runner. I had a better understanding every year.”

Saturday was a fun day for the Wildcats in winning the second-place trophy.

“It was a sense of completion,“ Hammer said. “I knew it was my last race. I saw everyone on my team the happiest I’ve ever seen them. The best part was seeing my coach and how happy he was.”

Hodges was happy with his PR of 16:21.

“I think my first and third mile were my stronger miles,” he said. “I met some of my expectations. I got my time down. I still have one more year.”

The loss of Hammer and Zinger will be huge but Hodges likes the 2013 prospects with Douglas, Scott and others coming back.