University of Tennessee distance runner and Grainger County High School graduate Zach Long already holds a couple UT school records, but he still has his sights set on a few more accomplishments. This weekend. This weekend he'll have the opportunity to compete for an SEC title, and he'll be fueled by everyone who supports him.
Long is having a breakout year. During the indoor season, he broke the school record in the 3,000 meter competition and during the outdoor season, he broke another in the 5,000 meter.
Although it's not in the books, he might hold the unofficial record for individual fans in attendance. During the Tennessee Relays, 52 members of his family, friends, and Grainger County community came out to support him.
"That's really special to me," said Long. "I love my home town, I love East Tennessee. The community that I've grown up around, Grainger County, they're not the biggest track and field fans but they've embraced it so much. I just have that to think about, growing up in that community, it's very special to me."
With his family and community in mind, Zach will set out to achieve another dream this weekend.
"When you're visualizing races, you're just like, it's the SEC Championship, the biggest race in the country outside the National Championship. I don't like to say it out loud, but one of my biggest goals is to win the SEC Championship, so it would be pretty special to do it at home in front of my family on Mother's Day with my mom in the crowd. I think that would be pretty special.
"That would be the best Mother's Day present ever," said Zach's mom Jennifer. "I couldn't think of a better present than to watch one of kids doing what they love."
Zach will compete in the 1,500 meter race on Saturday and the 5,000 meter race on Sunday.