The fantastic weekend at the CIF Track and Field Championships could easily have happened at the end of Zach Larrier’s junior season, but the Monterey Trail three-sport standout found himself fighting against a 104-degree fever heading into the weekend, and then a torn hamstring suffered during the weekend. Instead of letting the disappointment saddle him with regret heading into his senior year, however, Larrier set a series of lofty goals in all three sports, and by the time he got his diploma, he had accomplished all of them.
The final day of interscholastic competition in the state of California started with a bang for Larrier and his Mustang teammates in the 4x100 meter relay, at the CIF Track and Field Championships. Trailing by roughly three meters heading into the final leg of the relay, Larrier made up the difference against a talented quartet from Clovis North, finishing in 41.47 seconds to the Broncos’ 41.49, claiming a state title by two-hundredths of a second. And he wasn’t done yet.
A few events later came Larrier’s specialty, the 400-meter dash in which he had posted the nation’s second-fastest time earlier in the season, at the Arcadia Invitational. His time might not have been a personal-best, and he was certainly pushed all the way to the finish line, but his time of 46.73 was enough to hold off a strong challenge from Harvard-Westlake’s Brayden Borquez, giving him his second state title of the meet and becoming the first 400 meter CIF champion from the Sacramento region since 1975. A couple hours later, he and his 4x400 meter relay teammates gave the Mustangs a sixth-place finish in the final event of the athletic year. All three events combined, Larrier accounted for 23 points at the state meet, lifting the Mustangs to a second-place finish in the team scores behind Clovis North, with a total of 27 points.
The final weekend of track season was just the icing on the cake for what had already been a phenomenal senior year across the athletic spectrum for Larrier, who moved to Elk Grove from Youngstown, Ohio, just before his eighth-grade year. Football, and interscholastic athletics in general, are huge in Northeast Ohio, plus Larrier grew up with athletic genes. His mother, Emily, ran the 400 meters at Youngstown State University, while his father, Damon, was a two-way interior lineman in college.
Tragically, Damon passed away when Zach was just three years old, from an enlarged heart, but Emily has been there for all of Zach’s achievements, and plans to continue being there while he plays football on scholarship at the Air Force Academy. He certainly seems to be a perfect fit at quarterback for the Falcons, who utilize an option attack which features running quarterbacks. Being able to throw is an added benefit in the Air Force system, one which Larrier will certainly bring to the table.
His senior year, Larrier led the Mustangs to wins in their first 12 games, the best season in school history. He completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,426 yards and 18 touchdowns, with just one interception. Meanwhile, he averaged over 10 yards per carry, rushing for 990 yards and 16 scores. He did not rack up great numbers in the Mustangs’ blowout wins over league opponents, with just seven carries combined in wins over River City, Kennedy, Laguna Creek and McClatchy, but rather saved his best performances for the biggest games and the best opponents.
During a non-league test against eventual North Coast Section Division I champion San Ramon Valley, Larrier broke loose for 169 yards and two scores on the ground, including a 73-yard jaunt in which he made the Wolves’ stifling defense look as if it were stuck in quicksand. He also completed 9-of-13 passes with another touchdown during a 27-7 victory. Against Cosumnes Oaks, Larrier threw for 171 yards and three touchdowns while running for 160 yards and three more scores, one of the top overall performances in Northern California for the year. A week later, against perennial state power Paraclete, he threw for 148 yards and ran for 194 yards, this time accounting for five touchdowns from scrimmage.
After the win over Paraclete came a series of one-sided wins in which Larrier was limited statistically by his low number of touches, but the playoffs brought big wins and big performances. Included was a 48-20 victory over Oak Ridge in which Larrier completed 9-of-12 passes and ran for 84 yards on just six carries, followed by a strong performance during the team’s only loss of the season, a 63-25 defeat to eventual CIF Division 1-AA champion Folsom. In the loss, Larrier completed 7-of-13 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown, while running for 81 yards and another score.
“Zach embodies everything you need from all student-athletes,” said head football coach TJ Ewing. “His four years here transformed the culture at Monterey Trail and raised the bar for our entire athletic program.”
After football season, Larrier made the quick transition to the hardwood, as a three-year varsity athlete in both sports. By late December, the six-foot wing was in the flow of the game, dropping 14 points during a win over Bonita Vista-Chula Vista. On a team with a handful of scorers, Larrier played his role perfectly, averaging over five points per game to go with nearly four rebounds per game. But his role went far beyond his statistical production on the court.
“I always knew that if I wanted the team to do something, I had to get Zach’s buy-in first. His leadership is second to none,” said Monterey Trail basketball coach Robert Fields. “He was huge for us the last three years. It’s tough taking him off the floor because his mind and athletic ability are simply too good to ever have on the bench. He knew where everyone was supposed to be on every play.”
Monterey Trail’s basketball team went 18-11 in Larrier’s final season, the most wins in the past five seasons. The Mustangs finished one game behind Grant in the Metro League standings, then lost a 58-57 playoff heartbreaker to Davis. The improvement had a lot to do with Larrier’s leadership and ability to keep the team’s mind in the right place.
“Zach’s witty responses always kept the mood light, but when it was time to go, he led the charge,” Fields commented. “As a staff, we respected his mind and demeanor so much that he often us what plays to run and people to play. He was that good.”
Of course, the end of basketball season meant one thing for Larrier, that it was time to shift gears to the track, where he headed into the spring with both a bulls-eye on his chest based on the success of his junior year, but also with plenty of unfinished business based on how that year ended.
Throughout the spring, Larrier showcased his sprint versatility for the Mustangs, posting the team’s top times in the 100, 200 and 400 meters. His time of 10.68 in the 100 meters was a personal-best, and he accomplished it twice, at the Title IX Invitational at American River College and again at the Arcadia Invitational. Meanwhile, he also clocked sub-22 second times on each occasion he ran the 200 meters, including a 21.30 to win the 200 meters, and later adding an individual title in the event at the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II Championships. Of course, neither of those were his best races.
After cruising to a pair of early victories in the 400 meters, Larrier had the showdown with junior Justin Robinson, of Hazelwood West in Missouri. Robinson captured first place in that race, the only time all year in which Larrier would not cross the finish line first in a 400-meter race. But the two runners accounted for the top two times in the nation, in the same race, leaving Larrier poised for a successful spring after running 46.49 at Arcadia.
Along the way in the spring were plenty of notables, with a Metro League title, a blazing-fast 46.74 to win the SJS Division II Championships, a SJS Masters title and then finally the state crown. Larrier’s day at the SJS Division II Championships will be one for the ages in section history, going 4-for-4 on the track, adding 4x100 meter relay and 4x400 meter relay titles to his two individual races.
“To finally see him come out on top, and get that state title after everything that happened his junior year, it was just so gratifying,” said Zach’s mother, Emily. “These were all of his goals, and it has been overwhelming to watch him reach of those goals.”
Larrier was not only a terrific three-sport athlete, but also a leader on campus and a phenomenal student, one whose course schedule was constantly ridden with advanced placement classes. He graduated with a cumulative 4.07 grade-point average for his high school career, including a 4.25 final semester average, during a time in which many seniors are coasting to the finish line. And while most recent graduates were busy enjoying their summers off, Larrier first prepared for and then departed for his cadet training at the end of June, cementing a commitment he made back in December, after football season.
“He took his time with his college decision and stayed focused on his high school team, refused to get pulled into the glamour of the recruiting world,” said Emily Larrier. “When he made his commitment, his words were that ‘this is a lifetime decision, not just a four-year decision’.”
Now, after a phenomenal high school career and senior season across all sports, Larrier tackles his next challenge as a Division I football player and hopefully also as a track athlete. For those who have watched him closely throughout high school, the sky seems to be the limit.
“I tell both Zach and Emily that he is special enough to be President one day,” Fields concluded. “He just works and never complains. He is a great leader, someone for everyone to look up to, and I’m just proud to have coached him.”
For his efforts throughout this past athletic school year, we are pleased to recognize Zach Larrier as the Prep2Prep Northern California Male Athlete of the Year.
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