Webster University freshman Zack Zurfluh-Cunningham graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and excelled in sports. Zurfluh-Cunningham, a biology major, thought his grades and extra-curricular activities would get him into Washington University’s undergraduate program. His high ACT score and recommendation letters weren’t enough.When Washington University didn’t accept him, Zurfluh-Cunningham came to Webster. He broke a track record two weeks into the track season. Now he hopes to improve his skills and break even more.
Video by Kristen Schubert
Zurfluh-Cunningham went to Windsor High School in Imperial. He was active in clubs, class president all four years, and valedictorian. He was also on the track and soccer team.
Zurfluh-Cunningham began as a pole vaulter. He ran with a 12 or 13 foot pole and launched himself over a bar. t Zurfluh-Cunningham’s coach put him in a 200-meter race as a freshman. His time of 25 seconds beat the upperclassmen runners.
Zurfluh-Cunningham continued to run track in high school. He won four gold medals his junior year at Conference, including the 100 and 200-meter dash. He would eventually continue his track career at Webster.
WashU or Webster?
Zurfluh-Cunningham was ranked one out of 126 students in his class. He scored a 30 on his ACT and had academic scholarships to go to college. He planned to study chemical engineering at Washington University. Zurfluh-Cunningham had a letter of recommendation from the head of the math department at the University. He also had support from family members that went to school there, but Zurfluh-Cunningham didn’t get in.
“It was a big disappointment, especially because everything I submitted was just solid,” Zurfluh-Cunningham said.
Washington University wants to see his first semester grades and give Zurfluh-Cunningham a chance to take the ACT again. Zurfluh-Cunningham hopes to transfer to Washington University to continue his dual degree in biology and chemical engineering.
Breaking records one meet at a time
Webster’s track team just finished their second meet of the season. Zurfluh-Cunningham placed 10th out of 27 runners in the 60-meter dash. He broke Webster’s record with a time of 7.54 seconds. He also broke a third record at Webster University’s third meet of the season. Zurfluh-Cunningham ran 24.38 seconds in the 200-meter indoor race.
Zurfluh-Cunningham said he wants to continue to get stronger. His sprinting coach Brian McQueary is confident Zurfluh-Cunningham’s, “natural talent,” will help improve Webster’s track record.
“The janitor could coach him,” McQueary said. “He just is intelligent enough to know what to get done to get better. We’re not coaching him at a low level, he really has a lot going on upstairs.”