Zoe Baker has made the most of her last two years of high school, turning it into an opportunity to take her race to the next level.
Zoe Baker's Best Marks:
1600 Meters - 5:35.37 (at altitude)
3200 Meters - 11:47.65 (at altitude)
5K Cross Country - 18:30.0 (at altitude)
First, congratulations on signing with Colorado School of Mines. Has that school been a long-term goal for you, or did something change lately that led to the Mines decision?
Growing up, I was never particularly athletic, so I didn't ever consider that participating in a sport at a collegiate level could be a reality for me. I loved to run, but was only a member of the JV team as an underclassman. I had never even run a varsity race until my Junior year! As a result, academics have always been a priority for me with college. As I improved these past two years, I have become more and more interested in running past my high school years. Colorado School of Mines presented itself as the perfect fit for me at the beginning of my senior year: I could go to a school that is renowned for its strong academics, and develop myself further as a runner. After visiting their beautiful campus and seeing the scenic and incredible trails there, I made my decision to sign.
What do you plan to study at the School of Mines?
I plan on studying engineering physics at Mines. Later, I hope to get my PhD in something related to applied physics and work in space research!
You don't seem to have any records from your sophomore year of track. Were you out with an injury, taking a break from the sport, or ...? How difficult was it to get back on track after that?
Sophomore year of high school was pretty rough for me, because I was in and out of school with stubborn illnesses. I took a break from track that season, but the summer after that was the first summer that I consistently trained. Training hard during the off season finally allowed me to improve as a runner in a way I never thought possible. Listen to your coaches, and take the off season seriously!
The Silver Creek program has gotten better by leaps and bounds while you've been in high school. It's always fun to be part of something that's on the rise. Is there a highlight along the way that sticks out in your mind?
My highlight is always the "post race." I get incredible endorphin rushes post-race, and end up spending the following hours in a constant state of laughter and happiness. My favorite post-race moment was after the Desert Twilight meet this October. Our girls won the small school varsity race, and afterwards we were beyond excited! Almost all of us had huge PRs, and some of us got interviewed for the first time. We had never really experienced a success like that before, which speaks to how much our coaches have improved the cross country program. In that race, it seemed like we finally came together as a team. After that race, we got to witness our boys run an incredible race and spent the rest of the night having a crazy amount of fun.
Are you more of a track or cross country person?
I love cross country for the longer distances, but I much prefer running on a track. Racing around a track is obviously much faster, and I also feel more focused. The atmosphere of the audience around a track is also incredibly exhilarating, as everyone can see and cheer you on at all times. I'm very excited for college, and the opportunity to possibly run the 10K event for track. That way, I can combine my love for both long distances and track races!
Are there any particular goals you have in mind that help you stay focused as you move into your final season of high school sports in the spring?
Last track season I had some stubborn plateaus and didn't improve as much as I wanted. I feel like this cross country season has really been a breakout season, and I can feel a very tangible difference in my fitness. I want to continue that level of fitness into this spring, and make some awesome improvements and PRs!