Buckeye Valley senior Zach Kreft has run all kinds of places over the course of his career, but never onto the cover of a magazine.
The Baron standout and defending Division II cross country state champion will be featured on the cover of the upcoming edition of OHSAA Magazine, due out next week.
“I found out about the award from my principal, Mr. Albanese,” Kreft said. “He called me down to his office and showed me the cover. I was very excited to be on it. It’s such an honor to be on the cover of OHSAA Magazine.
“I’m happy I’m able to represent Buckeye Valley. I wouldn’t be on the cover if it wasn’t for my coaches, especially coach (Nate) Ritz, as well as the constant support from my family and teammates. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support. I’m happy to be on the cover to represent us all.”
Kreft has been nothing short of dominant since stepping onto the scene four years ago. For starters, he’s been the MOAC individual champion each of his first three years at Buckeye Valley. The Baron boys have secured the team title each of the last three years as well. They also qualified for the state meet as a team last season — the first time that’s ever happened at BV.
Kreft is the school record holder in more than a few events. Not only is he the proud owner of the school’s cross country record (15:04), he holds school records in the 800-, 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs in track, too.
“Zach’s consistent work ethic and determination make him the runner he is,” BV coach Nate Ritz said. “Freshman year, he decided to buy into running year-round and the consistent work and mileage he has put in since then has been incredible.
“He is a very driven individual. No matter what the weather or his schedule looks like, he’ll be certain to get his run in.”
Kreft, a three-time state qualifier, finished 75th in the state cross country championship as a freshman, crossing the line in 17:10. He finished as a sophomore, but, slowed by an illness, was dead last. He wrote his worst-to-first story as a junior, getting back to the state showcase and ultimately taking top honors in 15:16.
“Zach is a special kid and it’s been an honor to be able to coach him,” Ritz said. “He’s got everything going for him with his personality, work ethic and talent.
“Combining all of those is what makes him so special. I like to tell people Zach is a great runner, but an even greater person. I’m lucky to be able to coach Zach and the kids on the cross country team at Buckeye Valley … we’ve got a great group at BV.”
Being on the cover of OHSAA Magazine, with one state title already under his belt, you’d think Kreft has officially made it. In many respects, he has.
Kreft, though, wants more.
“My goals for this season are to win the state championship again and break into the 14-minute range for 5K,” he said. “I’ve come close a few meets so far, but definitely think it’s a realistic goal. After breaking that barrier I want to see how far I can go under 15.”
He has goals beyond that, too.
“Last year I ran at the Nike Regional National race and the Midwest Regional Footlocker race and fell short of making the national meet in both races,” Kreft said. “My goal this year is to make it out and race at the national meet.”
Follow Ben Stroup on Twitter @delgazette_ben.