It’s been quite the year for Zariel Macchia, an eighth-grade student-athlete from William Floyd Middle School, who runs for the high school girls varsity cross country team. In a three-week span, Zariel won the Suffolk County Division I girls cross country championship and was named the Suffolk County Female Runner of the Year.
“Zariel is truly a one-of-a-kind student-athlete,” said John Ryan, head coach of the girls varsity cross country and track teams. “In 30 years of teaching and coaching, I have never come across someone so naturally gifted as Zariel. What really sets her apart, however, is her attitude, work ethic and her desire to improve. She gives 100 percent in everything she does, whether it's a workout, a homework assignment, or helping a teammate. She is mature beyond her years and her potential is limitless.”
Zariel’s hard work and success is not only limited to athletics – she excels in the classroom and in various extracurricular activities, including serving as captain of the William Floyd Middle School Science Quiz Bowl team, the art club, art portfolio, placing among the top students in her grade in the MathCon competition and participating in the Science & Technology Entry Program (STEP), completing an electrical engineering summer program, to name a few.
In addition to her participation in the Science Quiz Bowl team, Zariel has also shown great interest in science advocacy, volunteering with Coastal Steward Long Island, a group dedicated to restoring and preserving Long Island’s coastlines through education, raising public awareness and community action. She participates in beach cleanup events, attends various conferences, lectures and workshops, and is always eager to learn more to help contribute to developing solutions for the future. She has also assisted the Center for Environmental Education and Discovery with the goal of improving the Carmans River ecosystem and has coordinated events with the National Youth Ocean Conservation Summit for our region.
Zariel also loves art and photography – even using a fountain pen in class to practice her calligraphy as a way to incorporate art into each assignment. Last year, she challenged herself by taking the AP biology exam – scoring a four, which is considered well qualified for a college biology student and ranking her among the top third of test takers overall.
As she is about to enter high school in the fall, Zariel is excited to take more honors and advanced placement courses as they fit into her schedule. She and some of her quiz bowl teammates have already started to prepare for the high school science bowl with the goal of helping to lead the team to the regional and national championships in the future. She plans on completing AP chemistry and AP physics classes as soon as possible in order to garner more opportunities to participate in advanced research and various STEM programs. She also plans on taking advantage of the school’s fine arts offerings, Career and Technical Education opportunities and other electives that can help develop useful skills for a future career and in life.
Pete Macchia, Zariel’s father and a volunteer coach with the team, describes Zariel as “a natural endurance athlete with good speed… a combination that no competitor wants to face.”
He said that Zariel first became interested in the sport due to a desire to beat her mother – an All-American college cross country runner at Columbia – in the Smith Point Bridge 5K Run for Literacy when she was in sixth grade. She did just that and finished third overall in the process. As a seventh grader, she won the race outright, and earned numerous accolades including All-County and All-Long Island honors since then.
In addition to this year’s division and county races, Zariel has won several other notable competitions, such as the Freshman/Sophomore County meet, the 12th Rock Northeast High School Club XC Championships, and earlier this school year, the Adidas Rising Stars Indoor Mile held in Virginia Beach.
“Zariel has accomplished so much in such a short period of time,” said Coach Ryan. “It's hard to believe that I still have four more years to coach her. I cannot wait to see what the future holds.”