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Gerlach to run cross-country at Chipola

Zoe Gerlach has been running for a long time.

The Port St. Joe senior started hoofing it while just a kindergartner. Now, 12 years later, she’s headed to college on a cross-country scholarship.

At a signing ceremony Nov. 17, parents Justin and Alyson, and little sister RJ accompanied her as she inked a deal to run for Jeff Fiorentino’s Lady Indians squad at Chipola College.

Zoe Gerlach signs her Chipola scholarship forms together with parents Justin and Alyson, and sister R.J.

“I’m super excited,” said Gerlach. “I couldn’t be here without my teammates and Coach Keion and my parents.”

To show you how far back Port St. Joe cross country coach Keion McNair goes in Gerlach’s track career, consider how well the little 6-year-old did when she started running in the local summer track club he coached.

He recalls she ran an eight-minute mile as a first-grader. “She’s been pretty promising since that age with running,” said McNair.

In terms of cross country, she posted her best times as a seventh grader, about a 22:28, and since that time has been working herself back into top form.

“With the hurricane and then the pandemic she couldn’t really train,” said McNair. “A couple things came into play for the last three years.”

Gerlach has been a member of the Lady Tiger Sharks cross country team for four years, making it to the state in 2017 after winning districts. The team competed in regionals for three years and districts all four years, with Zoe earning the top spot as district champion in 2018.

She also enjoys being middle distance runner on the track team, and in 2019 finished as district champion in the 800 meters and runner-up in the mile.

Gerlach has played soccer on competitive travel teams, and started for the Lady Shark varsity team for the last three years. In her first season, she was voted by teammates as Top Forward, and tied for most goals. In the last two seasons, she has earned an award for having the most assists and in 2019 served as captain and MVP. She has lettered each year in cross country, soccer, and track.

She has also volunteered in the youth soccer program, and is head coach for one of our local teams. Zoe has volunteered as an assistant coach in Upward Basketball as well.

Gerlach plans to train with McNair over the summer for the upcoming season at Chipola.

“Hopefully she can go in there and take over. Being number one girl on the team is her goal, and make it to national her first year,” he said.

Gerlach will graduate in May and plans to pursue a degree in occupational therapy, and work with special need students.