Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Catching up with Arcadia HS runner, Ammar Moussa...

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.

8) Tell us about your coach and what he has meant to your success?
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.


Anonymous said...

80 mpw at any point is excessive mileage for a high school runner

Coach Pup said...

...And Anonymous should know what is excessive and what is appropriate for any runner...

Anonymous has done it all.

In fact, Anonymous would be showered with accolades and awards and fanfare if we ever knew where to send the well-wishes, trophies, and fan mail.

Coach of the Year every year--of that, I am certain.

That said, I am going to be really daring and go against Anonymous Almighty and say that there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that 80mpw is not excessive for every high school runner.

And spare me the less-than-imaginative "yeah, like who" and "well, that's a special case" statements. Some of our best American distance runners put in significant mileage in HS. Look it up.

At some point, even Anonymous cannot be allowed to employ the requisite negligence it demands to make blanket statements like the one above.

anonymous2 said...

garrett rowe went 80mpw over the summer. that is good evidence that 80mpw is not excessive

Anonymous said...

many runners have run 80 mpw over the summer too and haven't done well out and beyond, does that prove that 80 mpw IS excessive?

jessie petersen did run 85 mpw. but i'd like to see carlmont runners run some fast times in college before saying that that is the end all.

Anonymous said...

Any way you look at it, 80 mpw is a lot for a high school runner, HOWEVER, that does not mean that it is too much for Moussa in this case. If he can handle it, kudos to him and he should keep it up. One thing is inevitable though, many top runners from SoCal do not go on to do much in college. Could this be from over training in high school? I'm sure Moussa is fine though. Arcadia is a top program, and I'm sure he and his coach know what is right for him. I'd love to see him improve even more this coming track season and next year in XC, he could really go far.

As for Garrett Rowe running 80 mpw over summer...is that really true? He used to run about 50 mpw last year. Would it really be wise to up mileage by 30 mpw so quickly? I'm kind of skeptical of that, since he has a great coach in Evan Smith, and I'm not sure they would do that. But who knows I could be wrong.

anonymous2 said...

yes its true.

Coach Ibarra said...

I wish I could get my runners to run 80 MPW! LOL!
In all seriousness... In all my years of coaching I've only had 2-3 guys come even close to that, BUT, it hasn't been a case of me not wanting them to, it's been more a case of them being READY to run that kind of mileage...
I like to bring the kids up with some nice progression through the years and to get to 80 MPW it takes quite a bit of building... most "regular" kids don't put in the work to get to that point. Again, I've only had 2-3 guys "EARN" the right to run that in 15+ years of coaching...
Sure, I could have my guys running that before they are ready but we do what they have earned... The most my top varsity guys ran this year was 50-60 mpw because that was what they EARNED...
ALL that being said, I wish more kids would put in the work that this awesome kid from Arcadia has put in to be able to run like that...
I think as more kids put in the work we will continue to see the running revolution we are currently in...
Press on whatever mileage you run!
How can you post so many times all over the internet?
Coach Ibarra
North Monterey County

Brad Rowe said...

I agree with Coach Pup that different programs suit different runners. Some guys can handle 100+ and other struggle to maintain 60. Moussa is a GREAT talent and it's fairly obvious the Arcadia coaches know what they're doing since they're turning out great runners and teams.

Regarding Garrett, he did not train 80mpw. He averaged 70 mpw over the summer and about 60 for the entire season. The training's probably not that different from Moussa but the mileage might be a little less and he rarely does 2 runs per day.

The simple goal has been to ramp up mileage and intensity a modest amount each year and to hopefully continue doing so through college.

Brad Rowe

Anonymous said...

Sorry, this does not relate to Ammar's interview, but I need a place to post this. I just saw the all-NorCal teams. You have Erik Olson ranked over Garrett Rowe. Although I disagree with the decision, it is very debatable, since both are very good runners. I am puzzled though, as to WHY Chris Kigar got the 2nd spot over Garrett Rowe. This is absolutely ridiculous. I demand to know how these selections were made. When, at ANY point in the season, did Kigar show that he was capable, of running with Rowe? Don't get me wrong, Kigar is a great runner in his own respect, but Rowe is on a totally different level. I demand to know WHY he was picked over Rowe as #2. The internet doesn't do justice to how furious I am right now. I'd appreciate if somebody who knows the details of the selections could provide an explanation to this. Thank you.

Albert Caruana said...

I posted the link to the All Norcal Team above. Feel free to share your comments there.

To answer your question about Kigar over Rowe, I don't believe the runners are ranked past Erik Olson. We were asked to give 7 runners for the 1st team, 7 runners for the 2nd team and beyond. No rankings were asked for each team.

I don't know how other people voted but it was very difficult selecting the runner of the year for both boys and girls. You are going to get surprising results when a group of people vote. Look at the Heisman this year.

Coach Pup said...


I demand to know who you are.

I demand that you make your own list and website and post there.

I demand that you show some maturity and class.

I demand that the internet have greater capabilities so that I could really see how silly you look getting this worked up about rankings.

I demand that Taco Bell brings back the 59-79-99 menu.

I demand that you put the money from the register (unmarked, non-sequential bills, of course) into this paper bag and don't make a sound.

I demand to know the meaning of life.

I demand to have phone number for Jessica Biel so I can call her and tell her to have Justin Timberlake step aside so I can take his place as her hero and dazzle Jessica with my paltry teaching and coaching salaries and less-than-snappy dance steps.

I demand an extra side of ranch dressing with m y pizza (actually, I hate ranch, but I figured while I was demanding ridiculous things, I would just throw that in for good measure...)

I demand more time in the day so I can spend it reading more outrageous Anonymous posts on blogs and message boards.

(I could go on, but I doubt you would get beyond the first demand on this list, Anonymous, so I am going to stop).

- Coach Pup

kobeer said...

why does he keep touching his face?

Unknown said...

LOL...great song.
English Bulldog Puppies

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