Zoe Arrington rewrites records at Tennessee High | Sports

Northeastern Tennessee over the years has been spoiled by some exceptional female long distance runners.

Tennessee High star Zoe Arrington has accomplished so much in her young career already, but there is still a long way to go on her checklist.

Arrington will be one of the athletes to watch in this weekend’s 41st Watauga Orthopedics / Times News relay as she runs the line in search of the competition’s record in the 3,200 meters. The mark was set by former Dobyns-Bennett State Champion Sasha Neglia in 2018 at 10:41.20.

“There have been a lot of really good girl long distance runners from this area,” said Arrington. “It’s great and it doesn’t happen very often. That this is happening now and that I am a part of it is an honor.

“What I think has resulted in her big jump from eighth to this is that she’s training constantly,” Tennessee high-distance coach Tom Murrell said. “At the same time, she agreed to learn sports, which led her to change her eating habits, her rest and her communication with her coaches.


At a younger age, Arrington was a gymnast and was quite good.

“There was once an ad for a buddy that put girls up front,” Arrington said. “I was one of them. It was when I was really young. I did gymnastics until I was eighth grade.

As an eighth grader, Arrington didn’t take the race seriously.

“In eighth grade I made it to the national track competition in college, and that’s when I realized I had the potential to be decent in it,” Arrington said. . “The next summer I started training for cross country in high school. It has never been the same since.

“I had gone from 2 mile races in college where I was nearing the end because I really didn’t care. In my first cross country run in high school, I was a run for the Hills finalist for (DB runner) Emma Russum. “

“Zoe went from sixth or eighth of middle school to 1600 in state meeting around 5:40 am to under 5,” Murrell said.


Tennessee High has one of the longest running traditions for girls in the area. Ellen McCallister was one of the first big names, setting the school’s old 1,600-meter record in 1979 at 5: 03.04.

In a meeting earlier this season, Arrington broke the 42-year-old record by running 4: 59.34 and becoming the fifth girl from northeast Tennessee and southwest Virginia to break the bar. 5 minutes.

“Forty-two years ago, Ellen McCallister set the school record in this event, and back then, when I was coaching Ellen, she always had to have 400 training sessions before a big race,” Murrell said. “For Zoe, leading that sub-5 mile, we hadn’t done a 400 yet, and we did Ellen’s old workout the week of the ETTE meet. I guess it worked.

“I then emailed Ellen with Zoe’s results. She appreciated it.

She joined the elite club of Maria Large and Kelsey Harrington of Virginia High, Sasha Neglia of Dobyns-Bennett and Jenna Hutchins of Science Hill.

“It was a big deal, and it’s been one of my goals for a very long time,” she said. “Finally, it was crazy.”

Arrington owns all of Lady Vikings’ distance records from the 800 to the 5-kilometer cross-country and is the next in line to receive the torch so many local girls have carried before her.

“I didn’t really fall in love with racing until the eighth, so breaking all those records is something I never even thought of doing,” she said. “When I have passed the torch, I am going, and there will be no turning back.”


Murrell – who is the area’s greatest athletics historian – has seen all of the area greats over the years and had the chance to coach a few.

He realized early on what Arrington could be.

“I see the same training in Zoe that I saw in Jennifer Cannon a few years ago,” Murrell said. “It wasn’t easy at first, but she put in constant training and embraced the distance mentality.

“I never thought I would train the two runners who would hold the majority of distance records at this school 42 years apart.”

On Thursday, Arrington was only registered in the 3200. His best time (10: 43.59) was just 2 seconds off the competition record. Anytime someone is within earshot of a record set by Neglia, you’re in pretty good company.

“I didn’t run a 3,200 other than the conference meet while running on dead legs,” Arrington said. “It will be a good opportunity to put everything forward in a race before the sections and see what I can do. I would really like to run within 10:30. “

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