Nutley Male Athlete of the Month

Kevin Zhang – NHS junior Boys’ cross-country

How did you get interested in cross-country?
A few of my friends were on the cross- country team freshman year and they really liked it. Because of that, I decided I’d give cross-country a try sophomore year.

What’s going through your head when you are running?
When I’m running, I think about things like if I can go faster and how I can run the race strategically. Sometimes, when I feel tired or burned out during a race or workout, I think of random ideas or song lyrics inside my head to keep myself distracted.

Do you have any rituals or routines for race day?
On race day, I try to cheer on other team members that are running in races and talk to friends on the team. I don’t have any rituals though.

What are the highlights of your career so far?
The highlights of my career so far have been medaling at the Greystone Invitational sophomore year on my birthday and running at the Shore Coaches Invitational in Holmdel Park, one of the toughest courses in New Jersey, this year.

Any thoughts on what you’d like to accomplish in terms of running next year?
Will you maintain a summer schedule to stay fit?

In terms of running next year, I’m hoping to be able to run under 18 minutes in the 5K and possibly help the team win a SEC team Championship. Also, I will most likely maintain a summer schedule to stay fit similar to the one I had this year.

Who are your role models?
My role models are my parents, because they work so hard to help me every day, as well as my brother, who has helped me a lot in training for the goals I hope to accomplish.

What subject do you like best in school? How come?
History is probably the subject I like best in school. My teachers for it have been very good the last three years and they have taught it in a very entertaining way that helps me be engaged with the subject. However, I enjoy most of my other classes as well.

What kind of music are you listening to these days? Favorite recording artists?
These days I’m listening to a lot of Khalid, Chance the Rapper, and James Bay because they are all artists who have really chill music.

“He is one of the hardest working and dedicated kids I have ever coached. He was consistently in our top five this entire season. He has made huge improvements since his sophomore year. He ran his fastest race at the Essex County Meet, clocking an 18:18. What makes him so special is his attitude and his ability to be a true team player. He never misses practices, never skips a rep in workouts and always gives 100% effort in every rep and every race. His enthusiasm towards the sport is contagious in practice and meets. He is very supportive of all his teammates. He is always encouraging everyone to race outside their comfort zones.”

– Gerry Ryan, head coach