Friday, June 29, 2012

Catching up with Homer Center HS runner, Angel Piccirillo...

The following interview was with David Taylor of

Angel Piccarillo (picture to the left is courtesy of is a 2 time High School All-American and two time Footlocker finalist in Cross Country.  She won this year's Pennsylvania AA 1600m. championship in a PR of 4:39.42.  She followed that race with a 2nd place finish at the Adidas Grand Prix Dream Mile race behind Chami Chapus of Harvard-Westlake School with a new PR in the mile of 4:39.94.

1. Three words that describe you and why?
Three words I would choose to describe myself would have to be driven, head case, and approachable. I think the things I have been fortunate enough to accomplish show that I am driven but the interviews I’ve done prove after that I can be somewhat of a head case. I can psych myself out like it’s nothing and all my life I have over thought things and it’s been something I have had to overcome. I have also tried to project myself as a friendly and approachable person. I have always been fairly shy but because of some of the success I’ve been put into a position where I need to remain approachable. This kind attitude helps when I need an extra push from the fans!

2. What does passion means to you, how does it apply to running and perhaps succeeding in life?
Passion is where it all begins. Given, I understand that there are runners and other athletes all over that have passion but haven’t been able to reach an elite level of success but I can guarantee you that there isn’t one elite athlete who doesn’t have a passion for what they do. You have to be able to rise above adversity and stay focused through the good times and the bad times. If you don’t have a passion for what you are doing, you can have all the talent in the world but you can never reach your full potential. Especially in something like running, If you don’t have a passion for it, you just won’t do it and that’s really it. Running is such a hard and demanding sport that if you don’t love it, you’ll realize it’s not worth it.

3. How do you want to be remembered as a runner? An all-time great, a record breaker, or one of many? An example of something greater?
I would say I want to be remembered as an all-time great, really just an ambassador of the sport. If people can say that this sport in my area, or even in the state is a little bit better because I was here that’s all I can ask for. To be remembered as an all-time great would be a feeling I don’t think I could put into words.

4. If you met an 8th grader transitioning into high school who dreamt of being a successful distance runner, what words of advice would you give to him?
I would say never take your eyes off the prize. It’s going to be hard, you’ll face adversity, you’ll have good races, bad races, there will be surprises along the way but in the end, it will be worth it. Never let someone convince you to give anything less than your best, because people will. And always, always, always believe in yourself, no matter what.

5. Humility In all things...what does that phrase mean to you?
This is an adjective I try to keep with me always. People are always asking my coaches and fellow teammates what I’m “really like”. I know they expect to hear that I’m cocky or boastful but I have always told myself that If I were to act like that, that would be the day I stop doing this because that’s not what this sport Is about. It would really be an embarrassment.

6. Looking back, what is the most significant moment in your running career?
It’s really, really hard to pick just one moment but I would have to say the outdoor state championships of this year. Just because of the immense amount of support I received there. To get an outdoor track as loud as that and a standing ovation was unreal. It was the perfect sending off, and not only that but I accomplished what I never imagined I would. To go under 4:40 in the 1600 for the first time, break the record, and win that double that I have tried over the years but never able to accomplish was so special to me. The fact that everything I wanted was accomplished in that one day was amazing. That whole thing was an unreal experience to me and one I will never forget.

7. What other sports have you played besides cross country and track and field?
My favorite sport, until I completely dedicated to running was volleyball. I loved volleyball and I never would have anticipated quitting. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do but a decision I will never regret. I knew it was something that needed to happen but not exactly something I wanted to have to do. I loved volleyball and I had planned to try and play in college even but I gave it up and haven’t looked back.

8. How did you get your start in running?
My coach spotted me running in elementary school and just knew. I didn’t start seriously running until I was a freshman. I participated in Jr high track in the 8th grade but I can’t say that it was something I was really focusing on. I was mostly just doing it to hangout with friends. I medaled on my 4x8 as a freshman, and I think once I got a taste of that success, I was hooked.

9. What were some of your highlights from your high school career so far?
I have been very lucky throughout my high school career and have had many, many memorable moments. I would say that some other highlights would be a 2-time all-American (cross country and Indoor mile), becoming a Foot Locker finalist and winning the Northeast regional Foot Locker championships, winning the Penn Relays COA high school girls mile twice. Also being invited to the Dream mile twice and coming back from finishing last for the first time In my career there my first year, to placing second this year. I was also named the Pennsylvania Gatorade XC runner of the year twice, and now track and field too. It’s such an honor.

10. What is your favorite racing moment thus far?
My fondest racing memories have been made this year, at the state track and field championships. It was a race I was in control of from the start to the finish and I ran the time I wanted, which was a lot of pressure off of me. Between that state championship and the Indoor state championships I have never received as much support as I did. The crowd was so behind and that’s the only reason I was able to do what I did. I always saw the crazy good runners get attention like that from the crowd so for it to be me, was just unreal.

11. Tell us a little about your family and how they have helped you develop during your years in high school.
My dad and my mom have been married for 21 years and they have always supported me. I have 2 brothers, and a sister and they are all much older than me. There are really no other athletes in my family so this has been a learning experience for me and my parents. My parents are the type to tell me to always follow my dreams. They never pushed me in any direction and let me choose what I wanted to do. They are both teachers so the only way they have really pressed me about anything was when I was picking a college, to not just pick a school for athletics but for academics as well. They really believe in me and have faith in everything I do. I couldn’t ask for two more supportive people and they are the reason I have been able to do as much as I have, they never let me get too down on myself.

12. Your has he Influenced your running, team?
My coach, other than my parents, is by far the most influential person in my life. If not sometimes THE most influential person in my life. He has also always believed in me and never let me quit. He pushes me to reach my full potential and I don’t know anyone who knows more about running and honestly more about me. He has done everything humanly possible to make me the best runner that I could be, and I can’t thank him enough for that. Yes, I did the actual running but he was the mastermind behind it all. When I first started, I had no idea that he would become too important to me and we would make it through so much together. He’s seen me at my worst and best and loves me anyway.

13. Favorite distance in track? Favorite run? Favorite invitational? Favorite opponent(s)? Favorite track workouts? Favorite run?
My favorite distance would have to be the mile. It’s such a classic distance and I have had some really good races at that distance. My favorite invitational was probably this year when we went to Baldwin, just to have that many talented high school athletes in one place was awesome. Obviously states and nationals are also incredible just to watch the talent, in all distances and events. I love racing my PA girls, this state is so talented so when I get a chance to race the AAA girls like at Indoor states, and I love it. It’s so fun, and they are all so sweet. I have become really close to all of them so leaving is going to be hard.

14. What races are you most looking forward to as you look ahead to the rest of your track and field season?
I can’t wait until big East championships when I enter college. Of course, if I am fortunate enough to attend NCAA championships as a freshman would be amazing.

15. Running ultimately will not define who you are, how would you like to be defined?
I would like to be defined as someone with a big heart. I try to be as caring and kind as possible. I know that the things I have done couldn’t have been accomplished without the support of my friends and family, and God. So I would just like to pay forward whatever I can because of how fortunate and blessed I am.

16. Favorite running movie, running song, and favorite runner?
I always listen to Good feeling by Flo Rida before my races, I am a huge Rocky freak and I am always watching those movies. I would have to say my favorite runner Is either Allyson Felix, or Usain Bolt. They have always been my favorites and I can’t wait to watch them compete at the Olympic Games this summer!

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