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William Floyd freshman qualifies for national cross country championship in San Diego

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Back in sixth grade, beating her mom in a race was the priority. Just three years later, William Floyd freshman Zariel Macchia is looking to beat an entire nation of runners.

The highly accomplished cross country runner is set to compete Dec. 11 in the Eastbay National Cross Country Championships in San Diego. The competition matches the best high school cross country athletes from across the country.

The race represents yet another level of success in Macchia’s meteoric rise in the running world. It began when she finished ahead of her mother — an All-American cross country runner in college at Columbia — and third place overall in the Smith Point Bridge 5K Run for Literacy when Macchia was just 11.

Macchia won the same race the next year, and with the varsity high school team at Floyd has since earned All County and All Long Island honors, as well as the has since As a seventh grader, she won the race outright, and earned numerous accolades, including All-County and All-Long Island honors and the Suffolk County Female Runner of the Year award in 2021.

Over the weekend, the freshman earned a spot in the national race by finishing second overall (and first in New York state) with a time of 17:42.7 in the female division 5K at the 2021 Eastbay Cross Country Regional Championships held at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

The regional race featured the best runners from 11 northeast states and Washington, D.C. Her performance is the fastest 5K ever run by a girl from Suffolk County on the Van Cortlandt Park course, according to her head coach John Ryan.

A top 15 finish in the Eastbay Nationals will result in All-American honors for Zariel. If she is a top finisher among New York runners, she will be a lead contender for the New York State Runner of the Year award.

Top photo: Provided by William Floyd School District, courtesy of Todd McDonough/MilesplitNY.