Zach Robinson insisted he wasn’t fast as a youngster. That’s easy to dispute, but a check of Greater Spokane League sprint times in recent years confirms he wasn’t necessarily the fastest.
However, the Lewis and Clark senior has always managed to win the District 8 title and the all-league recognition that goes with it three straight times.
He called it “slipping in,” but he also said, “In middle school and elementary school I was not very fast.”
LC football coach Tom Yearout has a better explanation for Robinson’s attitude than he does for Robinson’s success.
“I love the kid,” Yearout said. “He’s humble and competitive at the same time. All I know is I look at the top three times, but he’s the one who tends to be going to (state). I don’t know why. He’s very competitive in a quiet sort of way.”
“It’s partly just him being a gamer,” Tigers track coach Andrew Wicks said. “He knows when it’s on the line.”
It’s on the line this weekend in Tacoma as Robinson tries to improve on last year’s third-place finish at 100 meters.
Robinson believes he was discovered when he was thrown into a meet in Cheney as a freshman after his brother Ethen was hurt.
“I knew he was fast, I don’t remember if he was the fastest kid at Sac (Sacajawea Middle School),” Wicks said. “Ethen said he was fast. He ran 11.3 in Cheney, there was some wind out there, but that was a breakout meet.”
It was also the beginning of a star-crossed athletic career at LC.
Because of injuries, there were two freshmen on the 400 relay team who botched a handoff while in the lead at district, ending a quest for state.
Robinson, a cornerback on the football team, made state in the 100 as a sophomore but didn’t advance to the finals, a fate that also hit the relay team because of a collision with an opposing team at the first exchange.
Fortunately for Robinson, his junior track season went better – maybe a makeup for football. In the first game of the season, he broke an arm and was a spectator as the Tigers made their run to a state championship.
In the spring he matched the school record for the 100 (10.6 seconds) at Central Valley, and went on to win district and regional titles in the 100, 200 and 400 relay. He didn’t make the 200 finals at state but picked up bronze medals in the other two.
His senior year has also been up and down.
Yearout asked Robinson to move to the Tigers’ most difficult position on defense last fall, linebacker.
“He never complained, he just took the challenge,” Yearout said. “I wish we had him for another year. It’s one of those things you have to play more than one year. He was honestly all about what’s best for us.”
The Tigers had their 19th straight winning season but failed to make the playoffs.
On the track LC’s expected 400 relay quartet never materialized because of issues with grades, yet Robinson remained upbeat because the Tigers ran a season-best 41.03 in their last race.
Robinson was just returning from an injury layoff and he still managed to keep his district 100 crown.
“He is a student of the game, so to speak,” Wicks said. “He hadn’t run the 100 in several weeks but was able to technique his way to the championship. He is probably one of the most technically sound sprinters in the state.”
“The postseason is my favorite part of the year,” Robinson said. “I love to compete and be able to compare myself with other (leagues).
“I think I’m a football guy that runs track,” the 5-foot-9, 175-pounder said. “In my heart, I love football. I’m going to walk on at Eastern. I’d like to do track for a couple of years to see what I like best.”
Being fast isn’t what Robinson likes best about track,
“I like being a leader, looking after these young kids,” he said. “They look up to you.”
What they see is anything but a prima donna sprinter, which is commonplace in the gamesmanship for speedsters.
That’s just not the Robinson way, although being fast is. Ethen is in the LC record book as a member of the fastest 400 relay team and big sister Jenna, now 25 and in Southern California after competing at Seattle Pacific, is all over the top 10 lists.
Younger brother Trent was the third-fastest freshman in the GSL this spring.
“Ethen was my role model in high school, the guy I aspired to be,” the middle brother said. “He taught me discipline, responsibility, how to be a Robinson.”
“People at school know they can count on a Robinson for grades, athletics, to help other students,” he said. “We can be counted on to work hard and be disciplined.”
They come by it naturally. His dad, a contractor on the West Side, is the son of parents that were in the Air Force and insisted on discipline and hard work.
His mom, Amy Rimov, an attorney, comes from a family of educators.
He has learned his lessons well.
“Zach is just a great, all-around kid,” Wicks said. “He isn’t a flashy kind of person. He doesn’t want that kind of attention. I think he just wants to be known for being a great young man who happens to be fast.”
Even if it took him a while to realize it.