Chasing The Dream
Glasgow's Rachael Zeiger Signs Letter Of Intent With Gillette College
Shantel Zeiger / For The Courier
Rachael Zeiger is a four-time All-State runner and helped Glasgow win four consecutive cross country titles.
Rachael Zeiger casually walks into the gym of Glasgow High School after school one day and immediately walks onto the basketball court where senior boys guard Lane Herbert is shooting by himself before practice.
"Lane, do you need a rebounder?" Zeiger asked.
"Sure," Herbert replied as he continued to drain his shots.
Rachael Zeiger didn't always know that she was meant to be a runner.
All she did know is that she is super competitive in whatever sport she plays.
Growing up, Rachael admitted herself that she thought she was going to be a star volleyball player.
Her interest in running first came about while participating in a fun run at East Side School.
Glasgow assistant track coach Tim Phillips tried to get her to run cross country in middle school, but Rachael was still intent on playing volleyball.
In eighth grade, Rachael finally gave cross country a shot. Five years later that chance she took with cross country is paying huge dividends as Rachael signed a letter of intent with Gillette College over the winter break.
"I didn't realize how much stress there was," said Rachael with a laugh. "It was really calming once I made my decision."
Rachael's parents, Dan and Shantel Zeiger said that they thought they were going to go through the same recruiting process that took place when their son Luke was being recruited for wrestling.
"She actually negotiated real well with the schools pursuing her," Shantel said. "She handled it really well."
Both of her parents feel that Rachael made the right choice in what school she picked.
"I think it's a good transition school," said Shantel. "I think she's going to do well and already has offers from four-year universities waiting for her if she decides to keep going."
What drew Rachael's interest in Gillette, a tiny community college just over two hours from Miles City, was the recreational center the campus boasted that includes an aquatic center, indoor track and tennis courts to name a few amenities.
"I was really impressed with their facilities there," Rachael said.
The path to the scholarship offer from Gillette is nothing short of spectacular.
In her four years on the cross country team at Glasgow, Rachael was named to the All-State team four times. Adding to her credentials, Rachael and her fellow runners also clinched their fourth consecutive State Championship in cross country this past season, the school's 16th overall.
Glasgow cross country coach Rod Karst said it didn't take long for him to see just how much of a competitor Rachael was.
"Everything she's done, she's very competitive with," Karst said. "That's just the way she was raised. Her parents and brother pushed her along the way, but she was already very self-motivated on her own."
That self-motivation was evident during her sophomore year when Rachael suffered an injury during basketball season. Track season was right around the corner and nobody expected Rachael to be able to run. She proved everyone wrong on her way to All-State in both the 400 and 800 meter races. Something nobody thought was possible a few months earlier after her injury.
As Rachael now prepares to run at a higher level, Phillips, the man responsible for getting Rachael out on the trail, said that the success Rachael has seen to this point involves some definite talent, but requires more than just that.
"Rachael had the drive to always improve no matter how she did," Phillips said.
An instance which proves Phillips' point stood out to Rachael's mom Shantel. It happened at a race in Roundup earlier this season after Rachael posted what she thought to be a less than flattering time. Gillette coach Christopher Kozlowski was there in attendance.
"She wasn't at her best and Rachael said to the coach 'you still want to talk to me after that race?'" Shantel said. "The coach looked at her and said that he didn't want to talk to her about the race, but because of this attitude."
Rachael laughed at the moment looking back at it now and said that Kozlowski's response was very impressive.
Once Rachael arrives at Gillette, she plans to pursue a degree in nursing. When her time is finished at the two-year junior college, Rachael has standing offers on the table from University of Sioux Falls and Southwest Minnesota if she decides to continue her running career.