Kuhn heads to national championship

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Justin Zuhn at track meet earlier this summer. (Courtesy Photo)

Justin Zuhn at track meet earlier this summer. (Courtesy Photo)

By SEAN SHAPIRO

At times, Justin Zuhn is a typical teenager on summer vacation.

He enjoys hanging out with his family, hunting, fishing and golfing with his grandfather — all somewhat common activities during a student-athlete’s summer vacation.

“I just like to relax with my family,” the soon-to-be sophomore at Liberty Hill High School said. “Nothing too hectic.”

Zuhn saves the hectic moments for the track, where he’s qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics Games in Hampton Roads — a geographic area centering around Norfolk, Virginia — as part of the Texas Thunder Track Club’s 400-meter relay team.

“It’s pretty exciting, you have to run as fast as you can so you can be placed at an event like this,” Zuhn said. “I think we’re third in Texas (as far as time) so we want to go and try and win.”

Zuhn runs the lead-off leg of the relay, and he’s been responsible for jump-starting the group four times with his teammates, who are from Cedar Park and Leander.

So far the best time came in qualifying for the national tournament. A four-person sprint around the track in 43.78 seconds.

Zuhn’s performance is even more impressive considering his heavy workload during a standard meet. When competing for the Texas Thunder he runs the 100, 200, 400, and competes in the long jump in addition to the relay.

So what’s his trick to doing his best in each event?

“Stay hydrated, drink a lot of water and eat fruit,” Zuhn said. “Relax in the shade, just make sure you’re not burning energy.”

Pretty sound advice from someone who’s looking to make his athletic mark this coming school year at Liberty Hill.

Zuhn was part of the freshman football team at Liberty Hill last year and lined up at safety. This fall he’s making a transition to cornerback, a move that correlates well with his speed for tracking down opposing wide receivers.

He’s also ready to take a step up on the Liberty Hill track team. As a freshman he ran the 400 as an individual and was an alternate on the 1,600-meter relay team.

“(Nationals) is going to be good for me in high school track,” Zuhn said. “When you run against the fastest guys, that prepares you.”

He’s hoping it also prepares him to run track at the collegiate level some day.

While he’s just a sophomore, he already has his sights set on high-level programs at the University of Texas and Texas A&M.

“That’s the goal,” he said. And a national championship in Virginia wouldn’t hurt.

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