While Damien (Ca.) High graduate Zach Shinnick accrued his fair share of accolades in California over the last few years, the University of Southern California signee blew up at the California Interscholastic Federation Track and Field Championships, winning his first state title in the 400m dash in 46.12 seconds. Just a week later, he exploded for a nation-leading mark at the distance at the USA Junior National Track and Field Championships, going 45.20 seconds against a murderer's row of opponents, including professional Josephus Lyles, Keller Fossil Ridge (Tx.) High graduate Sean Hooper and Decatur Lakeside (Ga.) High sophomore Brian Herron. With the automatic qualifier into the Pan American Juniors, and his first opportunity to don the Team USA uniform, Shinnick has some big plans. Check out how Shinnick is doing as he prepares for his big moment from July 21-23 in Trujillo, Peru.
Zach, congrats on making the USA Junior team for the Pan American Junior Championships in Peru. What's gone through your head since winning the 400m Junior Championships in Sacramento?
Thank you! Since winning the 400 I've just been focusing on my training for this upcoming meet in Peru.
Obvious question. What was your reaction and the public's reaction when you won the 400 meter run over Josephus Lyles, Sean Hooper and Brian Herron, among others?
I was not very surprised in winning the 400 against those great runners. I knew that I had great training in the weeks prior to the meet and I just had to go out there and put a good race together. My coaches and family were very excited about the race and are excited about future races to come.
Second most obvious question, what was your reaction when you realized you went 45.20?
I was very excited. It had always been a goal of mine to run low 45s by the end of the season and to be able to accomplish that makes me really happy.
Can you describe what happened in the 400m that allowed you to produce that time? Was there something you did differently, or was there a training leading up to that moment that really clicked?
Basically just my training during the prior weeks told me that I was ready to run fast. I was having some great workouts and I knew that if I put together a smooth and strong race that I would run something very fast.
What are your goals in Peru?
My goal for Peru is to win and to run 44.
This is a big moment for you, so what exactly will you hope to take away from the experience?
I just want to have a good time and meet new athletes that have some of the same goals in mind as me. I think this trip is a good stepping stone for future college meets and hopefully more meet representing team USA.
How will you use this opportunity to grow as an athlete/person before you head off to the University of Southern California?
All meets with USC are very big so being able to be a part of a big meet will help me gain more experience.
What was it like winning a CIF title after not even reaching the state championships in the event a year ago -- though you finished third in the 400m and second in the 200m in 2015
Winning CIF showed me that I can run with anyone in the country. It showed me that if I run my race I can beat anyone.
How unreal is dropping nearly two seconds from your PR of 47.19 as a sophomore? You ran three great times under 47 this year and were right on the cusp. Was it just icing to get 45.20 after a great senior season?
Pretty much, I ran a few 46s and I knew if I ran against some guys who consistently run 45 that I could be pushed to run even faster.
How would you describe your senior season in a nutshell?
My senior year has been very good to me. Although I started the year with a couple of injuries, I was able to battle through them and end up where I am today.
Can we expect to see you on this stage again in the future?
Most definitely, I plan on running for team USA many more times before my career is over
How do you see your career moving ahead in the next few years?
I'm going to start college at USC and see where t goes form there. Hopefully after a few years I will be ready to take the step of becoming a professional runner.
Congrats again, and best of luck!