Senior Zach Mellon, Track and Field Athlete of the Year, signed a Letter of Intent for the University of Wisconsin, Madison February 4, with the staff lounge full of onlookers. After signing the papers with his mom, Portia, Mellon was all smiles. Recently, Mellon was on the cover of ESPN Rise magazine and featured in a four-page spread dedicated to his achievements. Including, breaking the Minnesota’s State record for the half mile and also finishing second place at the USATF Junior National meet.
“It was pretty overwhelming being in ESPN Rise. Doing the photo shoot was really fun and just seeing the magazine makes it really sink in with all the accomplishments that I’ve had on the track,” says Mellon. “It’s weird to see it circulating in the school and seeing my face on the cover of a magazine. It feels kind of awkward with the press because I don’t know what to say. They expect to hear something great but I’m just a kid that has this God-given gift. When I’m out on the track, I try to disassociate myself from that.”
After signing the letter, Zach’s mom, Portia, step-dad, Don, and 3 brothers, Simon, Isaac, and Jared smiled for the cameras for the Wright County Journal Press. The room was packed with members of Mellon’s family, friends, school administrators, teachers, and press.
“My parents have been very supportive, not just financially, but getting into the sport. As much as it’s been for a trip for me, it’s been the same for them too,” says Mellon. “They get just as much out of it as I do. And it’s overwhelming too, because I have a full ride to Madison, not that money is everything, but not having to pay for 4 or 5 years of college lifts a big weight off of their shoulders and mine.”
For seniors in high school, picking out the right college is tough, but Mellon has a gift that many colleges want to have. But the choice was all on him.
“I chose Madison because of the coach and the whole recruiting process,” says Mellon. “I caught myself paying attention to the coaches and the time that I spent with them. I was basically looking for a relationship that I have with the current coach, Mr. Knutson and I found that with the Madison coach. They are just a phenomenal team and the school there is incredible.”
With all of his accomplishments comes history. Having the ability to be as fast as Mellon, makes some wonder how he realized he was so good at track and cross country. According to Mellon, he found his talent on a whim.
“I’m a pretty spiritual person, so I have to acknowledge that God worked in different ways for me to join track,” comments Mellon. “I had a little run in with my friend Nathan Engfer and he said that he was faster than me and I said no you’re not faster than me. We were really competitive so I said that I would go and join track to show that i can beat him.”
During the “younger days”, many kids have the dreams of becoming an astronaut or the next Michael Phelps, but with Mellon, his dreams didn’t pursue athleticism.
“I didn’t think that I would be an athlete of any kind or caliber. In middle school, when I joined track, I hated running. I didn’t even like track when I joined it,” states Mellon. “But once I started racing, I liked it.”
“I remember in eighth grade when Tyler Pierce and I would run the mile”, says Mellon, “we would try to get 7 minutes or less and we finally beat it with a 6:57 or something like that and Mr. Mjelde said, ‘you guys have to come and try out for track with times like that you’ll be winning races.’ That was a complete lie, if you were to run a time like that you’d get dead last.”
While attending Madison, Mellon would like to major in biology and is interested in helping people, so maybe even something like physical therapy.
Mellon is truly living a high school seniors dream and embraces every second of it.
“Overall,” says Mellon, “it’s been incredible.”