Three school records. An All-County title. A qualifier for the New York State title meet.
Island Trees High School’s Matt Zerbarini, a junior cross country competitor, is one of the school’s top runners of all-time. After finishing fourth in the state qualifier meet, the lad earned a trip to the New York championship battle in Plattsburgh, taking the momentum he earned after a runner-up finish in the Nassau County title run.
But there is more to Zerbarini success than just being a fast runner. He’s a leader for this team. Under the leadership of coach Rich Degnan, Zerbarini has high hopes of advancing to a Division I university.
The Levittown Tribune spoke with Zerbarini, discussing his success on the field and goals moving forward.
Q: What have you excelled in compared to other runners?
A: Really, the main thing that separates me is I’m determined. I love the sport and I want to do well in it. Sometimes, my teammates are like, “I’m not feeling it today.” But I tell them, “Come on, guys. We got this.”
Q: How do your leadership qualities stand out?
A: I went to a cross country camp called Foundation Running Camp. My counselors were really positive. They inspired me to help out my teammates more and try to be more of a leader on the team. It’s given me the confidence in myself and the ability in my teammates. I feel like we can do really well with that.
Q: You did quite well in the county championships and in the state qualifiers. What does it mean to be successful thus far in your running career?
A: It feels amazing. When I was younger, I never thought I would get here. I was like, “I can run pretty well.” But I never put in the time. When I started to put in the time, it started to show how great I can be.
Q: How did you get started running?
A: My mom decided to sign me up for a track team where I used to live [Peachtree City, GA]. Before that, my school had a club every morning, where we would just run a few laps around the track before school would start. That’s where I developed my love for running.
Q: What’s it like to be one of the people to carry the torch for this team?
A: I just want to be up there with the core group of runners in the school. One of my teammates, Cara Duffy, I’m inspired by her brother. I really want to be as best as I can to be like him.
Q: What would it mean to you to compete in college?
A: College would be an amazing experience. It seems like it’s really fun, going places, doing new things and compete at top levels.