Sometimes I try to venture down south and get in touch with some of the top runners and coaches in that area. Today we are very lucky to hear from one of the best runners in the southland who just had a remarkable junior season, Arcadia HS runner, Ammar Moussa (pictured to the left, courtesy of www.insidesocal.com). He won the ultra competitive Mt. SAC Invitational with the fastest time of the weekend, 14:34. He also won the state meet Division I race with the fastest time of the day (14:59) while leading his teammates to a 3rd place team finish. Ammar went on to finish in 4th place at the Nike Team Nationals trailing only Elias Gedyon of Loyola (2nd place) in the battle for top runner in CA.
1) How did you get your start in running? What other sports have you done?
My interest in the sport of running kind of started my 8h grade year when I decided to run the local city track meet. I ran the mile and I won with a PR, and I got to move on to the next two races running PRs in both and competing well. For most of my life I've played soccer and basketball, both at club levels.
2) When did you first realize you had the talent to do well in the sport?
I first realized that I had the talent to do well in this sport when I won my first race as a freshman at the Bosco Tech Invite. It was an eye opener and convinced me that I might have a chance to compete in this sport.
3) Describe some of your best races during your freshman and sophomore seasons in cross country?
Some of my best races as a freshman were running with the varsity squad for the championship season. Just being in such high level races and competing for the team really made me love that part of the season and led me to some good times. During my sophomore season my best race was at Clovis Invite. I really just went out there and put it all out on the line during that race, and ran a really good time that helped my team to a 3rd place finish there against some really good teams.
4) What runners did you look upto during those seasons (on your own team or other teams)?
During my frosh season I really looked up to German Fernandez (who didn't?) and my teammate Renaud Poizat. I really admired German's ability to go out and race hard every time and how he was able to just attack records and not be scared to do it. I looked up to Renaud both freshman and sophomore years. He was (and is) and amazing athlete, but it went beyond that. The way he carried himself around, and the way he led the team really serves as a model for aspiring athletes.
5) When did you first realize that you had the opportunity to be one of the best runners in the state?
I first realized that I could really compete with the best runners in the state at Mt. Sac Invite sophomore year. I finished sixth that day and number 2 in my grade behind Elias, and after that race, in the back of my mind, I was thinking, "Wow, I can go after it next year."
6) Tell us about the 2009 state meet 3200. What was your plan going into the race and how did the race unfold for you?
The simple opportunity to qualify for the state meet in two events was incredible in itself. But what was more incredible was the atmosphere in the stadium that night. My plan going into that race was to not go out with the leaders and to move up during the race. My plan didn't go so well, because that kind of racing style is not something I'm used to, and I wasn't able to execute correctly. I moved up as much as possible, and I can't say that I'm disappointed with the result, but it was a huge learning experience.
7) What is your favorite race/invitational? Course? Opponent(s)? Workout? Run?
My favorite race is the state meet for cross country. I love a race where everything is the line and there is no room for error. My favorite course is Mt. Sac because I love the challenge. My favorite opponent is any one that is willing to race hard and not give up. That includes guys like Matt Mcelroy, Heyden Woofe, Justin Vilhauer, and Elias, the rest of those guys. They all get out there and race, and its fun to be there racing them. My fave workout is 5x1000s because it gets me feeling fast over a race distance.
My coach has been huge for me. He continues to make me more than a good athlete but also a better man and leader. Those two things are more important than all the titles in the world combined.
9) What does a typical week look like for you during the summer in terms of training? Early XC season? Middle of the XC season? Late XC season?
During the summer, training typically consists of two-a-days Monday thru Friday, averaging 80 mile weeks. We go from 70 mpw early in the season to 50 or so during championship season. We don't start faster repeats until later in the season, as we need more of that snap in our legs during races.
10) You past cross country season, what are some of the accomplishments that you are most proud as you look back?
The accomplishment that I am most proud of from last cross country season was standing on that podium with the team at the State Meet. We left Woodward Park in 2008 and we made a promise to each other that we would try to win the next year. That was the goal the entire season and we ran every mile of the season with a state championship in mind. Though we didn't win state, being third in the best division in the state was still an amazing accomplishment, and just being on the podium with the guys was amazing. I'm also proud because I was able to win the state meet, and it kind of got that bitter taste that I had in my mouth after my performance in 2008 at the state meet. That race was my personal motivation for an entire year, because I knew that I had let down my teammates, my coaches, and myself that race, and I wanted to make up for it.
11) As you turn your attention to the track and field season, what races are you most looking forward to in 2010?
As track season approaches, I'm really looking forward to that last month and half of the season. That is easily my favorite time of the year, as its a month and half of back to back do or die racing. I'm really looking forward to matching up with the top guys in the country at Arcadia Invite, and run in that amazing environment, in front of a somewhat home crowd :)
12) Anything else you would like to add.
I really want to thank everybody who supported me this season, especially my family, my teammates, my coaches, and my classmates. I pray to God that I continue to have that kind of support for the rest of my running career, and I pray to God to give me the same and better results for upcoming seasons. Thank you.
Thank you very much Ammar. AJC.