Senior cross-country standout and Aukeman Triathlon champion Zack Bursell is coming off a sixth place overall finish in last years state championship race. Last season, the Juneau-Douglas boys cross-country team finished second in state and Bursell said they plan to build on last year's strong performance in their pursuit of a 4A cross-country state championship.
You come from a family of avid runners. How have they influenced you as a runner?
"I think my dad encouraging me to run from an early age, and then encouraging me again to join the team and go out on runs with him influenced me a lot. After running with him for a while I've found running to be a relaxing, enjoyable thing that I can do on my own."
You recently won the Aukeman Triathlon, what inspired you to try this?
"This was something way new for me that my parents wanted me to do and I eventually gave in, just as a fun thing to do."
What was the hardest part?
"Probably the biking. I hadn't prepared too much at all and I just jumped right into it with no prior training. I had swam and run before, but the bike was completely different."
Do you play any other sports?
"I like to play basketball. I used to play on the high school team for JV but now I just play around at open gyms at UAS for fun. I also play some badminton on the side during the winter."
What are your plans after high school?
"Definitely college. I'm looking to go somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. I'm still not quite set on DI or DII running in college but I definitely want to run."
Do you have any running idols that you look up to?
"I know who our top marathon runners are but I don't really idolize any of them because I don't know very much about them. Maybe someone like Steve Prefontaine back in the day. He's someone I look up to."
What are your expectations for the boys' cross-country team this year?
"We've been waiting for this season for a long time. It's Sage's (Thibodeau), Andre's (Bunton) and my senior year, so we're expecting to do well at state. We're going to try to go for a championship this year and hopefully everyone is healthy. We're all looking to improve and help each other along the way."