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Freshman Zahir Rucker makes name for himself on Track and Field team

Zahir+Rucker+shows+off+his+hardware+at+the+2016+AAU+Junior+Olympic+Games+in+Houston%2C+Texas.
Zahir Rucker shows off his hardware at the 2016 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Houston, Texas.

Zahir Rucker shows off his hardware at the 2016 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Houston, Texas.

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Zahir Rucker shows off his hardware at the 2016 AAU Junior Olympic Games in Houston, Texas.

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As a freshman at Penndale Middle School, Zahir Rucker has not yet dealt with the crowded hallways of North Penn High School. However, he has had no trouble navigating himself around the track. Not only has Rucker proven to have been a great addition to the Boys’ Track and Field team this year, but also competed in the AAU Junior Olympics twice.

“Zahir Rucker is a fine young man with a tremendous potential. His success will be determined by his ability to work hard and stay focused. Zahir is one of several talented ninth graders on our team this spring who have the ability to compete on a varsity level,” said Boys’ Track and Field Head Coach, Jaimey Jones.

As age groups start at eight and under, many competitors at the AAU Junior Olympics have been running track their whole life. However, Rucker has only been running track for 4 years. He started on a small club team called Enon, which is under the church Enon Tabernacle Baptist church. He later  switched to a bigger club team located in Philadelphia called The Athletes Academy.

Zahir Rucker is a fine young man with a tremendous potential. His success will be determined by his ability to work hard and stay focused. Zahir is one of several talented ninth graders on our team this spring who have the ability to compete on a varsity level”

— Boys' Track and Field Head Coach Jaimey Jones

“I decided to switch teams at the end of my second year running for Enon when I missed Junior Olympics after qualifying my first year. I switched teams, because I wanted to be around better competition so that I could become a better runner,” said Rucker.

Rucker is fortunate to have qualified for two AAU Junior Olympics so far: Iowa in 2014 and Houston in 2016. He explained that qualifying for both has been a blessing from God and has affected how he looks at life on and off of the track.

“I feel as though Junior Olympics made me able to hold my own in high school track because the level of competition is very high there. It also helped humble me, because there are also kids who are better than me,” said Rucker.

At the 2016 Junior Olympics, Rucker qualified for the 100, 200, and 4×400. Relays are the most exhilarating events at the Junior Olympics, making the 4×400 Rucker’s biggest race. As a part of the relay team, his outstanding performance enabled his team to be ranked third in the country. But to Rucker, the junior Olympics are more than just the medals and ranks. He found the Junior Olympics to be a great experience for new, amazing competition as he had the luxury of running against the fastest 14 year old in the nation, Brandon Miller.

“This was Zahir’s first year of track with me and he ran AAU with us. He did indoor, outdoors and he was blessed enough to make it in the Junior Olympics for the 4×400, 100, and 200. He ran personal bests in the 100 and 200 and also medaled in the 4×400, running his personal best a split of 50.8, which was ranked third in the nation. That gave him the confidence to go into his high school freshman year and continue to train. The biggest thing that he wanted to do was to transition everything he did from the summer time over to high school,” said Head Coach of Athletes Academy, Kenroy Wallace.

Coming off of such a big relay in Houston, Rucker realized that not everything revolved around him, and he had to put others above himself. His team became family to him and his mindset changed to doing whatever he can to make the relay easier on his other teammates. With this sense of team and family, Rucker entered the large North Penn Boys’ Track and Field team with the right mindset. He feels that the team helps him expand more, since they have the same values and mindsets. From his experience at the Junior Olympics and with two great teams by his side, Rucker became confident that he’d be able to hold his own at the high school level.

“We have a bunch of kids, and we’ve made a name for ourselves as far as track and field. One thing we try to do is bring kids in and we are very selective in our process, so the kids that we bring in, actually fit our program. We don’t just want talented kids that may be head case or [have] no work ethic. He came in with a no nonsense attitude and he worked very hard to get where he is at. He was running indoors around 56 or 57 for the 400, so 7 seconds of his time dropped from indoors to the summer time. That shows you how much he works,” said Wallace.

My goal in track this season is to become a national champion. My goal in life is to become the best possible human I can be. I want to influence the next generation up to be better than ours. I want to show everybody that you can overcome the negativity in life.”

— Freshman Zahir Rucker

Rucker admits that in the past he would skip practice any chance he could. He changed his work ethic,  making sure he’s at every practice, and he tries to do his best no matter how he feels that day. Rucker explains his family is one of the reasons he works so hard everyday. They have gone out of their way to make sure he has the correct tools to be successful. As a kid, Rucker was just another athlete with tremendous speed, but didn’t know what to do with it. Realizing track was the sport for him, his life now revolves around track. His parents play a big role in his track life and continue to watch him turn his dream into reality.

“My goal in track this season is to become a national champion. My goal in life is to become the best possible human I can be. I want to influence the next generation up to be better than ours. I want to show everybody that you can overcome the negativity in life. Nobody is perfect and everybody makes mistakes, but you live and learn from them. I want to let the next generation know so they don’t make the same mistakes. Also, I want to be a successful man and show my parents they did a good job guiding me from a boy to a man. I want to just maintain a healthy and long life,” said Rucker.

Track has helped Rucker mentally develop into a stronger person and has helped him expand his thoughts. He feels it helped him think outside the box, now knowing how to think situations through more instead of panicking. Rucker learned how to run many races from track, but he appreciates more of the life lessons he learns from track. With his dad always stressing the need for a plan B, he has looked into several jobs and colleges. He wants to be a brain or heart surgeon and definitely wants to have a small business or several small businesses to bring in extra money and get some different experiences being his own boss.

“Zahir is one of the most hard-working, extremely humble athletes that I’ve ever coached. Sometimes you never know that he’s even there because of his demeanor, which is quiet. That is, until you get to know him and see he is as silly as everyone else. Zahir came in and he was the ultimate complement to that age group and those kids that he ran with. He believed in us and we believed him in the same way. It was like a match made in heaven and I wish we’d had him earlier. We look forward to him having another successful summer season with us,” said Wallace.

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5 Comments

5 Responses to “Freshman Zahir Rucker makes name for himself on Track and Field team”

  1. jay hicks on May 16th, 2017 5:31 pm

    that boy something special.

    [Reply]

  2. Vashti everette on May 16th, 2017 5:36 pm

    This is not a surprise!

    [Reply]

  3. Greg Cooper on May 17th, 2017 2:09 pm

    Very nice article on Zahir he is a tremendous athlete, shows excellent sportsmanship and is a great competitor. My club ran against his club in Texas we have a lot of respect for Zahir and his teammates and look forward to seeing them again this summer.

    [Reply]

  4. Sandi Cooper on May 17th, 2017 2:28 pm

    Great job Zahir from PATC!!!!!

    [Reply]

  5. Sandi Cooper on May 17th, 2017 2:28 pm

    Great job Zahir from PATC!!!!

    [Reply]

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Online News Day or Knight - Official news site of North Penn High School - 1340 Valley Forge Rd. Lansdale, PA
Freshman Zahir Rucker makes name for himself on Track and Field team