Mercer Island Islanders freshman Kai Zettel (pictured) earned 36th place with a time of 17:01.2 at the Class 3A Sea-King District II championships on Oct. 25 in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Jay Na

Mercer Island Islanders freshman Kai Zettel (pictured) earned 36th place with a time of 17:01.2 at the Class 3A Sea-King District II championships on Oct. 25 in Seattle. Photo courtesy of Jay Na

Making an impact on the trails

The future is bright for Mercer Island freshman cross country runner Kai Zettel.

Flashback to the summer of 2018: Mercer Island Islanders incoming freshman Kai Zettel had never competed in competitive running.

Zettel, who has played soccer throughout his childhood, decided to give cross country a try this past August.

The decision paid dividends.

Zettel captured 36th place with a time of 17:01.2 at the Class 3A Sea-King District II championships on Oct. 25 in Seattle. Zettel is the only freshman from the Sea-King District II to clinch a berth at the Class 3A state cross country meet on Nov. 3 at Sun Willows Golf Course in Pasco.

Before the season began, Zettel didn’t envision having the success he’s had thus far on the trails.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it to districts because there were so many seniors and juniors ahead of me. I only started running for this team a few months ago. Over the summer, I didn’t run that much, maybe four miles a week,” Zettel said.

Zettel said he is nervous about the upcoming state competition.

“There is a lot of pressure to do well. I really want to get in the top 50 for the state minimum,” he said.

Recently the Mercer Island Reporter had an opportunity to ask Zettel a few questions about his life away from cross country.

Mercer Island Reporter: What is your favorite restaurant on Mercer Island?

Kai Zettel: Subway. You can make whatever you want.

MIR: What is your favorite movie of all time?

KZ: “Top Gun.” That is my parents’ favorite movie too.

MIR: Who was your favorite sports team growing up?

KZ: It is definitely the Seattle Seahawks.

MIR: If you could pick one person to go to dinner with, who would it be?

KZ: My friends.

MIR: What is your favorite hobby away from running?

KZ: I like playing soccer.

MIR: Where do you see yourself in five years?

KZ: I see myself enrolled in college. Hopefully I will have gotten a scholarship for cross country. I want to major in engineering.

MIR: What is your favorite dinner dish?

KZ: Pasta salad.

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