Sprinting, jumping and record breaking: Zach Fagin does it all


Photo by Malcom Slaney, license CC by 2.0

Zach Fagin clears the bar during the high jump at the 2022 Stanford Invitational on Saturday, April 2.

With just two seasons of intensive track experience, senior Zach Fagin is already dominating the sport. Not only has his performance in the long and high jumps sent him to the CCS finals twice, but last year he took down the school record for the 100 meter dash, dipping under 11 seconds for the first time. And he still has his final season ahead of him before competing at Cornell University next year. In other words, Zach’s just getting started.

Despite his achievements, Zach recalls that track wasn’t something he initially wanted to dive into full-time. Growing up playing multiple sports, he mainly utilized jumping events as a form of conditioning. It wasn’t until his sophomore year, having lost a season to the pandemic, that he realized his potential and found a niche in sprinting. 

“I started getting good times, and my coaches started saying that I could compete at the D1 level,” Zach said.

From the first day on the track it was clear that Zach had a lot of raw speed and power,” Zach’s sprint coach David Barthsaid. “His willingness to work on technique and his ability to push himself in workouts has helped him reach the next level.”

That natural drive isn’t something he reserves for the track. Zach’s teammate junior Nathaniel Guillory, says that while training in the weight room, the two can get a little competitive. Even during races, he’s locked in to his preparation. 

 “He’s always pushing me to do better,” Guillory said. “When we’re lifting, he’ll be like, ‘Are we really starting at this weight?’ And he’s very focused on meet days. You don’t see much of him before the race. He’s in this space where he’s focused and trying to get to that next level.”

His dedication really began to pay off during his junior year, where he made significant improvements in his jumps and shaved nearly a third of a second off his 100 meter time.

“The first half of the season, I was coming off playing basketball, so I wasn’t performing that great,” Zach said. “But then I got a good 100 time and long jump [distance], and once I started seeing those marks improve, it motivated me to work harder and focus in practice.”

Zach’s steady progression throughout the latter half of the season earned him a ticket to the CCS finals, where he placed in the top five for all three of his events. His preliminary 100 meter time, 10.93 seconds, broke the decade-old school record and marked the first time a Los Altos sprinter had ever gone under 11 with legal wind.

“I wasn’t surprised when I broke [11 seconds], but I definitely felt super accomplished,” Zach said. “It’s pretty incredible to say that I’m one of the top athletes in CCS and to see my hard work pay off.”

 A few weeks later, he would go on to the NorCal state playoffs for the first time, ultimately placing 24th in the long jump. He was unable to advance for the high jump, where the opening height matched his personal record.  

“It was just crazy being able to compete at the state level. Based on previous rankings, I didn’t think I was going to even make CCS,” Zach said.

This season provided Zach with plenty of highlights to show off to colleges, with him ultimately deciding on Cornell University. He plans to use his skills as a multisport athlete to compete in the decathlon. 

“I’m definitely aware that I’m going to have to work hard academically,” Zach said on the rigor of an Ivy League school. “But I’m pretty excited to compete against the best of the best. On official visits, it’s crazy to see that everyone has super high marks.”

“He loves learning. No matter what wall is in front of him, he’s gonna push past it and do it,” Nathaniel said. “I kind of compare him to Peter Parker. He can be that guy in the classroom but just be a stud on the track.”

Barth, who will have been Zach’s mentor for three years, expressed high hopes for his potential at the collegiate level.

“He’s very coachable. Zach has a quiet confidence about him and you know when the starting gun goes off it’s game on,” Barth said. 

But for now, Zach has his sights set on performing at his highest level yet before graduating this summer. With last season’s improvement, it’s not hard to see him making those goals reality. 

“He’s like Kobe [Bryant]. It’s like, ‘What is there to be happy about? I haven’t won yet’. He’s always on to the next [race],” Guillory said. “He’s just him. He is him