One of the challenges of covering sports is getting to know and appreciate the athletes, knowing full well that the dreams do not always line up with reality.

Take Zach Panning.

Zach is one of our most promising athletes.

A 2:09.38 athlete, ranked 8th in the Oly Trials food chain, Zach and his coaches, the brothers Hanson (Keith and Kevin), knew Zach had to use his strength and guts to have any chance of making the team!

As the pack took off, the pace, a modest 5 minutes at six miles, changed dramatically as the dude in the Dayglo yellow cap dropped 4:49 miles for the next six miles, decimating the dreams of many.

As Zach Panning, Connor Mantz and Clayton Young hit the halfway in 1:04.07, Zach had done the frightening thing of dropping the pace to 2:08.10.

The three stayed together until 23.5 miles when Connor Mantz and Clayton Young, training partners, under the watchful eye of Ed Eyestone, BYU coach and two time Olympian, moved ahead.

As Connor Mantz and Clayton Young moved to the lead, Zach Panning gutted it out, but the gutty racing comes at a cost.

Leonard Korir raced into third, passing Elkinah Kibet and Zach Panning.

The drama was not over!

CJ Albertson ran a 4:58 final mile, finishing in fifth, ten seconds out of making the team! CJ had run three races under 2:11.30 in recent months, was rewarded with a pb !

Zach Panning who made the race, finished sixth, wiser after his first Olympic Trials experience.

What will he do in 2028?