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Swift, silly and serious

Cross country captain shows his dedication

GET+IN+THE+ZONE.+At+the+state+meet+Nov.+3%2C+cross+country+captain+Abe+Zelchenko+strides+past+a+competitor.+Abe+knows+how+to+have+a+fun+time%2C+but+when+training+for+a+meet%2C+his+dedication+shows+through+his+serious%2C+focused+expression.
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Swift, silly and serious

GET IN THE ZONE. At the state meet Nov. 3, cross country captain Abe Zelchenko strides past a competitor. Abe knows how to have a fun time, but when training for a meet, his dedication shows through his serious, focused expression.

GET IN THE ZONE. At the state meet Nov. 3, cross country captain Abe Zelchenko strides past a competitor. Abe knows how to have a fun time, but when training for a meet, his dedication shows through his serious, focused expression.

Abigael Thinakaran

GET IN THE ZONE. At the state meet Nov. 3, cross country captain Abe Zelchenko strides past a competitor. Abe knows how to have a fun time, but when training for a meet, his dedication shows through his serious, focused expression.

Abigael Thinakaran

Abigael Thinakaran

GET IN THE ZONE. At the state meet Nov. 3, cross country captain Abe Zelchenko strides past a competitor. Abe knows how to have a fun time, but when training for a meet, his dedication shows through his serious, focused expression.

Nikhil Patel, Assistant Editor

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After running to the middle of the course, the cross country team forms into a small and tight huddle. Around the circle, each runner says a few words until Abe Zelchenko, senior and captain, delivers the few final inspirational words to cap the speeches made in the huddle.

Then he goes through the rest of his pre-race traditions, drawing on the example set by previous captains like jumping as high as he can before a race to pump people up. But then, right before a race, he transforms.

Luke Sikora

“He’s got this switch,” Luke Sikora, a junior who runs with Abe, said. “I can almost like see it in his running and when he’s getting ready to go. He just turns into like, this monster.”

Abe, captain of the cross country team and ISL champion, uses this switch in all of his interests.

Abe started running short distances and sprinting in middle school and has been on the cross country team for four seasons. He is also a two-time state cross country runner, three-time state track runner and holds the third-fastest 5,000-meter time in school history.

According to teammates and coaches, he’s an important leader on the team. “Obviously he’s good on the course, so people look up to him for that, they respect him for that,” cross country and track Coach Alexander Clark said. “But he can be serious, too. I know he’s a goofy guy, but when I need people to get in line, he’s good at getting them to do that, too.”

Outside of running, Abe has many fairly common interests. 

For me, running is something that has been sort of a constant routine since high school started, where no matter what else is going in my life, I run. It never changes. Even when running is going really well for me or poorly, it happens all the same. It’s on a different level, it’s something that’s a part of me.”

— Abe Zelchenko, Senior

“I obviously like things that everyone in the high school likes — I watch Netflix and I hang out with my friends a lot,” Abe said.

He also plays trombone in the jazz band and likes listening to music. He also mentioned that he likes to draw.

“I don’t draw that seriously, mostly its doodles during math class with my friends.”

Nathan Appelbaum, a junior who is in the jazz band with Abe, said Abe is a talented musician who is always ready to play any music that is assigned to him.

“Whenever I see him, trombone in hand or not, he is never without a smile,” Nathan said. “But right before playing, he’ll zone into a piece and really get into it.”

This “switch” is even visible in his friendships. Nicholas Merchant, a senior who became good friends with Abe two years ago, recounted the story of Boris, the Soviet-style-hat-wearing, balloon. At Homecoming, Abe spent the whole night “befriending” him and brought Boris tenderly to his home after the dance to make sure he was safe.

“I could also describe Abe as intense,” Nicholas said. “He’s passionate about a lot of the things he does, and has such dedication to everything.”

Abe considers running to be something integrated deeply in himself. No matter what else he is doing, he finds running has become an inseparable part of his life.

“For me, running is something that has been sort of a constant routine since high school started, where no matter what else is going in my life, I run,” Abe said. “It never changes. Even when running is going really well for me or poorly, it happens all the same. It’s on a different level, it’s something that’s a part of me.”

The reason that Abe likes to differentiate between his extroverted, fun-loving side and his serious, focused and “intense” side is simple: it helps him achieve his goals.

“In my mind, if your head is not in the place that you’re thinking about running and winning, and if you’re in a lighter mood, you’re not going to win,” Abe said. “So I like to — before the race starts, before the gun goes off — sort of get into a space where I’m thinking about what I have to do.”

And then, he’ll transform.

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Swift, silly and serious