Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – Everything came together fairly quickly for Gavin Zillyette.
In a span of less than a year Zillyette began to consider a collegiate track career, emerged as a state title contender and secured a Division I scholarship offer.
On Wednesday the Clear Creek Amana senior put the finishing touches on a whirlwind year when he signed his national letter of intent to continue his track and field career at Illinois State University.
“It really wasn’t until my junior year that I started to really consider track in college,” Zillyette said. “I always had it in my mind that division I would be the goal but I looked at a lot of division II schools since that is where I thought would be my best fit but after last year and the jump I made it seemed like it was a potential to run at a division I and obviously it kind of worked out.”
For most of his first two years of high school Zillyette saw baseball as his future sport.
Leading into his junior track and field season Zillyette began to consider the possibility of a future in running.
A breakthrough junior season on track helped make the decision easier.
Zillyette earned four medals at the Class 3A state track and field meet last May helping Clear Creek Amana to top sixth finishes in three relays and securing a runner-up finish in the 400 hurdles.
Zillyette projects as a hurdler and mid-distance runner at Illinois State.
“I’m going to be mid-distance and hurdles is where I am going to train and we will kind of feel it out as we go,” Zillyette said. “I think right in that 400 to 800 range with the hurdles is the primary goal to train.”
A four-time state cross country qualifier, Zillyette spent time running distance events during his career.
Last season he was a member of the Clippers distance medley and 4×400 relay teams that finished sixth at the state meet and ran on the 4×800 squad that was third.
In his lone individual event at state Zillyette finished runner-up in the 400 hurdles in a time of 55.88 less than a month after trying the event for the first time.
“If you would have told me ahead of the season that in a 40-day period that I would go from running it for the first time to finishing runner-up I would have never believed that,” Zillyette said of the 400 hurdles. “I never would have guessed that it would be something I’d be going to run at the division I level.”
Even the recruiting process came together quickly for Zillyette who took an unofficial visit to Illinois State before returning for an official visit and later committing.
“That first initial visit going there the campus and talking to the coaches it felt like right away it kind of clicked,” Zillyette said. “It felt like a comfortable place for me to be.”