Year Inducted: 2016
The 1980’s saw a large number of outstanding runners come out of the Miami Valley running scene. Among the great runners of that era was a guy named Earl Zilles. He made his mark as a five time State Champion in high school, continued to perform strongly in college, and then went on to burn up the roads in post-academic racing. When Earl showed up at a race he always had a chance to win, or at the very least made sure another outstanding runner had to work hard to finish ahead of him.
Earl ran cross country and track for West Liberty-Salem High School in Ohio and he wasted no time making running opponents aware of his speed. Earl and his talented scholastic harrier teammates won the Class A State Championship in Cross Country all four years he was there. In addition to the team championships, Earl also won five individual State Championships (2x cross country, 3x track).
As a freshman, he placed 13th at the State Meet in cross country and 3rd at the State Meet in the 2 mile on the track. As a sophomore, a stress fracture kept him out of the State Meet in CC, but he did place 7th at the State Track Meet in the 1 Mile and 3rd in the 2 Mile. As a junior, he raced to another level as he went undefeated in cross country, capping the season off as the individual State Champion and setting the Class A State Meet record (2.5 miles - 12:06). As a junior, he continued to excel by winning the 1 Mile (4:21) and 2 Mile (9:25) at the State Track Meet Championship. As a senior, he added two more State Champion titles to his mantle. He won his second State Cross Country Championship and led his fellow harriers to the Team Championship. In track, he won the 3200 meter State Championship the first year the event was held in Ohio. Earl also placed sixth in the 2-Mile (9:15) at the AAU Junior Olympics, held at the University of Nebraska.
Earl ran the West Liberty-Salem 10K in 30:53 just prior to his senior year.
Earl had a successful college career at the University of Houston, earning All-Southwest Conference honors with his 3rd place finish in the 3000 meter steeplechase at the SWC Meet in 1982 (9:04). He qualified as an individual for the NCAA Cross Country Championship Meet in 1981 and as part of the team at the NCAA Cross Country Championship Meet in 1980.
The roads provided Earl yet another path to sharpen his running skills. From 1983-2000, he was among the upper echelon of runners in Ohio. He would routinely run sub 15:00 5K’s, sub 32:00 10K’s, and excelled at every distance from 5K to the marathon during that time period. He won numerous races in the local and regional area and made his presence known throughout Ohio.
Earl has run 37 marathons with 24 of them raced in sub 3:00 hours, 14 under 2:50, and seven of them under 2:40.
He ran with the Bob Schul Racing team from 1982-1985.
PR’s include: 5K (14:28) Jesse Owens Track Classic 1983, 5 Miles (23:52) Night Moves 1985, 10K (30:10) Minster Oktoberfest 1985, 15K (47:14) Cincinnati Heart Mini 1986, half-marathon (1:08:10) Dayton River Corridor Classic 1983, marathon (2:35:09) Columbus 1998.
Earl was the West Liberty-Salem cross country and track distance coach from 1982-1984. During that time, he coached Maria Newcomer as she won individual State Championships in both CC and 3200 meters on the track (1983).