Marc Zeller saw the potential for excellence when, at age 10, daughter Skye ran competitively with the boys on her flag football team.
“When she’d get the ball, she’d go to the outside,” he recalled. “If she got to the sideline, none of them could catch her. I knew we had a runner.”
It turns out he was right, but Skye didn’t become a sprinter. The Space Coast Junior/Senior High junior has excelled at middle distances, particularly the 800 meters, and Thursday she will take the next step toward a return trip to the Class 2A state championship. Local 2A teams will compete in the District 13 meet at Astronaut. Today, area 3A teams will compete in District 13 at Merritt Island.
Zeller entered the spring track and field season with a solid resume. She was chosen to the All-Space Coast Girls Cross Country team in the fall. Zeller placed at the Class 2A state meet in Tallahassee with a 5,000-meter time of 19:28.30, having qualified as an individual by placing seventh in her region.
At last year’s 2A outdoor track state meet in Jacksonville, her 800-meter time of 2:19.33 placed fifth. It was at the FSU Relays, back in Tallahassee, that she put her name into state title contention. Zeller fell 50 meters back of Ransom Everglades’ Lauren Archer with 300 meters to go.
Five days earlier, Zeller had taken second in the 800 at the Bob Hayes Invitational in Jacksonville. She came to Florida State with no specific goal other than winning, and she caught and passed Archer for a win of less than a second, 2:14.08.
It was a personal best by nearly five seconds.
“I was kind of worried at the beginning of the season because I hadn’t (established a new personal best time) yet. I hadn’t faced much competition,” Zeller said. “I was really surprised. I was going with the goal to win, but when I was done I saw the clock (at FSU), and I was shocked.”
Zeller won both her races at the Cape Coast Conference track and field meet two weeks ago at Astronaut. She took the 1,600 meters in 5:21.88 and afterward talked about needing to run well without much of a challenge in the 800.
“I’m trying to run 2:20 so I can get in the fast heat at the regional,” she said, and then she beat that by more than a second. Though she didn’t need any kick to win, Zeller took the 800 in a time of 2:18.98.
She will return with the hope of similar or better results Thursday.