Jacobs’ Zach Albrecht already had established himself as one of the area’s best distance runners before running the most significant race of his career on April 21.
It was that day that Albrecht blazed around the track at Huntley’s Red Raider Stadium, covering 1,600 meters in 4:13.25 to erase the McHenry County Track and Field Meet record set by former McHenry runner Jesse Reiser.
“Anytime you run with names like Reiser or (former Jacobs runner Evan) Jager, that’s a different story,” Jacobs cross country coach Kevin Christian said.
Albrecht was poised for a big final month, but he became ill a few days before the Class 3A Huntley Sectional. He qualified with the Golden Eagles’ 4x800 relay team, but could not make it in the 1,600.
Albrecht felt like he could have been one of the top 1,600 runners at the state meet, where Sandburg’s Dylan Jacobs won the 3A race in 4:11.60. Albrecht had to settle for a third place the next week at St. Ignatius’ Magnificent Miles Meet, a festival of mile races Christian called Albrecht’s “state meet.”
Albrecht heads into his senior cross country season with lofty goals and feels like he can compete with the state’s top runners. He is eager to build on a junior year that twice had unsatisfying finishes. He will be the decisive favorite at the McHenry County Meet at 10 a.m. Saturday at Hickory Nut Grove in Cary.
“I wasn’t too thrilled with cross country at state,” said Albrecht, who finished 44th in 15:02. “I don’t think I performed as well as I could have. I ran a 14:45 a few weeks before there (at Peoria’s Detweiller Park). I’m excited to get another shot at it.”
Christian expects big things from his senior, who could join Jager, the 2006 Class AA state champion, as the school’s next All-State runner (top-25 finish).
“After last season, it shouldn’t just be about making state or being All-State,” Christian said. “He could be a top-five guy in the state and really mix it up with the big boys.”
Albrecht, who lists Bradley, Iowa and Notre Dame as his top schools, is on board with that.
“Top five at state is my main goal,” he said. “I’d like to have a sub-14:30 as my (personal record) this year.”
Albrecht played soccer and ran cross country while growing up. Christian remembers how fortunate he felt when Albrecht chose cross country. It helped that he is from a running family and his brothers Corey and Austin Albrecht also had run for Jacobs.
“Once we got him out, we knew he was something different,” Christian said. “He just attacks everything. The talent was there. The way he goes about things is different. When he really wants to go after something, it’s about as impressive and as fast as I’ve seen.”
Albrecht appreciated the camaraderie the cross country team showed. His freshman season he got to run with Austin, who was a senior.
“What really brought me to cross country was the team,” he said. “I knew all the seniors, and some of the juniors and sophomores. I became close to them because they came to our middle school meets. Pretty much the team is what I chose.”