Thursday, September 13, 2012

Q&A with 2013 Recruting Target Tom Coyle of LaSalle High

LaSalle College High School senior Tom Coyle is firmly ensconced on Villanova's recruiting radar. The 2012 Pennsylvania state champion at 1600 meters, Coyle won Philadelphia Catholic League outdoor titles in 2012 at both the mile and 3200 meters, to go with those he won indoors at 3000 meters and the mile. Last fall, he took both the Philadelphia Catholic League and the District 12 cross country crowns before finishing 8th at the state cross country championship. The Lansdale, PA native hails from the same high school that sent Tom Donnelly, John Mastronardo, John Burns, Alvin Clay, Kyle Rodden, Colin McManus, and current team member Tom Trainer to Villanova. He is coached at LaSalle by former Haverford All-American Greg Bielecki, and ended his junior year with PRs of 1:51.78 (800), 4:11.97 (1600), 8:55.55 (3000i), and 15:56.20 (5K XC). Here is an interview with Coyle from the Pennsylvania Mile Split site:

1. Talk about your summer training. Where did you do your running (trails, roads)? How miles/week did you run? Any fun runs from the summer you want to share?

My summer training has gone pretty well so far! I took some time off after the Henderson Distance Festival and started up with easy running at about 20 miles, taking a few days off here and there. From there, I've steadily built my mileage up to around 70 miles, and by the end of the summer I'm getting up to 80. Lansdale, where I live, doesn't have many soft surfaces so I like to drive to some nearby trails to run. I've been so blessed to have the opportunity to take a service trip to Browning, Montana, where I had some of the most beautiful runs of my life. The road on which we ran, we saw more horses than people! On the way out, we looked straight into the sunrise and we could see the Great Plains and rolling hills for miles. When we would turn back, the Rocky Mountains looked like nature's version of the Philadelphia skyline. I was awestruck by scenery especially during our runs for that whole week.

2. What are your expectations for the 2012 cross country season?

Personally, I have a couple loose goals for the upcoming season. My first one is to be happy. I have always felt like you can't run fast without being happy, and I want to take in everything about my final year. My second loose goal is to be healthy and run fast. Much of my summer training revolved around improving fitness but staying healthy at the same time. My other expectations are to run a PR at our home course, and try to win the state title.

3. What did you learn last year (cross country or track) that you hope will help you coming into this season?

Heading into the indoor state championship, I felt as if I never ran to my potential at a state meet. In 2011, I was in the lead halfway by 20 meters and crashed hard the last mile. During my sophomore year, I succumbed to nerves and went out way too hard at the state meets we competed in. It took me until my junior year, but at the indoor state meet and at outdoors, I learned how to race at the championship level. It took a lot of training and a lot of disappointing races, but I feel like I finally know how to use my strengths in the championship races. It will take some testing in the invitationals, but I have learned how to cope with the nerves and run smart on the big stage.

4. Talk about some of the races your are looking forward to competing in?

We are running new races this year in order to get more experience on hilly courses in a fast race. Our lack of experience really cost us at the state meet, but learning how to race on the big stage can be crucial. We are starting up with the Briarwood Invitational, which is on our home course and will give us a fast race and we can use our experience there to our advantage. The next invitational we head to Hershey for the Foundation Meet. This will get us used to racing on the Hershey course before the state meet, and it will help with the young guys on our squad. Before the championship season, we race the Shore Coaches Invitational where we run at the historic Holmdel Park. It's possible that I can get a rematch with Edward Cheresek and that meet always brings in the best of New Jersey.

5. What are your expectations for your team? What do you think you all can do this year?

Everyone of our guys has been working their butts off this summer and this year the work will pay off. We return our top 5 and we have good credentials for this upcoming season. Our main goal is to perfect the process (putting in the work everyday and doing the right things) but we are looking forward to a championship season. We look to win our league, which is a very respected title. In order to qualify for states, we have to run a tough race at districts and win. Finally at states, we are looking to grab a spot on the podium. But again, the only way we can even talk about these goals is to put in the work in the summer and do the right things.

6. As a mile state champion, what is the toughest training adjustment from track to cross country?

The hardest adjustment for me is the lack of speed work! I love putting in the miles and I'm used to putting in pretty good weeks of training. Especially toward the end of outdoor track, I felt like I could run 200s in a workout with ease. Now, I feel like the aerobic and strength work has taken away from my speed. When October rolls around, we will move toward faster workouts once our strength base has been established. I love long workouts, but I certainly do miss the faster track workouts.

7. What are the pros and cons on running on such a hilly course like Belmont Plateau on a regular basis?

Belmont Plateau has been my home course since the 1st grade, so I know a lot about it. The first con is comparing PRs. We don't get too many chances to run fast courses, so I always feel our PRs are a lot slower than my friends in the SOL or from around the state. Also, running there every dual meet REALLY takes a toll on your body. Working out, racing at Belmont and putting in the miles can really make you sore. But Belmont provides what other courses don't -- long, steep hills. As much as some of the guys on the team hate the notorious hills, they give us experience that proves really valuable at the state meet. Not only does the experience help us, but I think Belmont is a crucial tool to just get our team tougher. It hurts to run a fast race at Belmont, regardless of age, sex, distance or skill level. But by putting ourselves through the pain, we get better both mentally and physically.

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