Saturday, February 23, 2013

Q&A with Villanova's Newest Recruit Patrick Tiernan:
2012 Triple Australian Junior Champion

Tiernan crushed the field at Junior XC
Villanova Running tracked down Villanova's latest import from Australia, Patrick Tiernan for a short Q&A about his transition to school in the States.  Tiernan is matriculating at Villanova this semester and will debut for the Cats this fall during Cross Country season.  In 2012, Tiernan was a triple Australian U-20 champion (as a 17-year old): 1500 meters, 5000 meters, and cross country.  For the story of those victories, click HERE.

Here's this weekend's Q&A with Patrick Tiernan:

VR: Describe the process by which you were recruited by Villanova -- how/when you were contacted, what considerations you had to deal with, what concerns your parents had, etc.; Were you friends with any of the other guys from Australia (Jordy Williamsz, Matt Gibney, or Sam McEntee) before Villanova came onto your recruiting radar, and did you talk with them a lot before deciding to accept Villanova's offer?

PT: I think it was around January/February in 2012 when I was first contacted by Adrian [Blincoe] to discuss a possibly future at Villanova. I'd just come off a successful cross country season and was in reasonable shape heading into the upcoming outdoor track season back in Australia. I wasn't officially offered a contract here until late July/early August. I hadn't really given the whole idea much thought, as it had all seemed a bit surreal to me, but there were definitely some considerations I had to take in. I had just started a Bachelor of Exercise Science at university in Australia, and wasn't enjoying it as much as I thought I would, so I was going to start a new degree regardless of where I went, so that wasn't a major issue. I had developed quite a strong friend base over the 12-18 months before coming over though, and that was definitely tough for me to leave. The biggest thing for me however was leaving my family to go halfway around the world to complete a university degree. It's been tough, but we've been in contact fairly regularly since my arrival over here. As far as the transfer over here, I was glad that I'd met Jordan Williamsz, another Australian on the team, before coming over, so that thought of having a familiar face waiting for me to arrive was very comforting. I'd briefly talked to both Sam McEntee and Matt Gibney before coming over, but I'd never met either of them.

VR:  What were your biggest concerns in coming to the States to compete in the US collegiate system? Positives & Negatives? How important was it that Villanova has had a strong (and successful) Aussie/Kiwi contingent over the past 12 years?

PT: I didn't really have any concerns with the collegiate athletic system before coming over; it's a fantastic set up over here compared to the Australian college system, so for me it was all about the positive aspects! The three different seasons: cross country, indoor, and outdoor. The regular racing that is made available by the system. The range in competition is remarkable; there's always going to be a race that will consist of runners around your personal ability. Just in general, it's something that I've been very excited about over the last six months, and to finally be here is fantastic.  I cannot wait to put on that Villanova singlet in August to take part in it!

It was quite important that I'd seen the likes of Gibney and Sam have such great success over here at Villanova both athletically and academically. It definitely helps knowing that someone in the same situation as you're in has been able to have such great success, so that was a major influence on my decision to make the switch from Australia to Villanova.

VR:  What have been the 3-4 biggest surprises you've encountered about life in the USA -- oddities and unexpected things?

Tiernan won the 2012 Gold Coast 10K
PT:  Well for one, the weather was a major shock to my system! I'd been experiencing fantastic weather back home just before I came over. It was the middle of summer, hitting around 90-100 degrees F on a regular basis; shirts and shorts weather. When I got off the plane in Philadelphia, the low 30's and high 20's were definitely a big shock to me! I've been able to adjust pretty well though, although I won't deny the fact that summer couldn't come soon enough! Secondly, the whole driving on the right hand side of the road aspect still gets me. That one will probably take a little longer to adjust to. Lastly, I bought a pair of jeans for $30 the other day. . . I'd never dream of getting a good pair for less than $80 back home. Everything is so much cheaper!!

VR: How is your training progressing? What at this point in your career do you see as your optimal distance? -- is it 1500 or 5000, or both? Or do you see your strengths pointing most to XC?

PT:  Training's been going really well at the moment. It's very different to what I was doing back home, as a lot of this work is based on heart rates and what not, but I think Marcus is doing a fantastic job with it all. I've managed to get into some reasonable shape, but for me the focus is just keeping fit so I can come out firing in the cross country season in the fall. Cross country was probably my biggest strength back home for the duration that I was there, but I've managed to pick up a little bit of speed in the last 18 months.  So I'd like to try and do the 1500/5km double, but realistically I think the 5km is my optimal event, aside from cross country that is.

VR: Overall, how's school going at Villanova -- classes going well, etc? Are you acclimating to student life OK?

PT:  I love the university system over here in the sense that classes are much like high school back home, only in the set-up though, the work is definitely at a university standard. Not one of my classes consists of more than 25 people, and they're very much discussion-based as well, where as in Australia the whole lecture/tutorial routine just didn't suit me very well, so that's another positive note on moving here. I've managed to meet a fair few people in my classes and in my dorm, so the transfer over has been a pretty smooth one on most levels.

VR: Finally, which Australian food/beverages do you miss the most? What American foods are most over-rated?

PT:  I've been craving a meat pie and some pavlova since I got here. When I head back, I can guarantee you they will be my first choices of food upon arrival! Oh, and I miss the bread from Australia as well, I find it's all very sweet over here and doesn't quite have that same freshness. I'm not a massive fan of the famous fried onions either, maybe it's just my taste-buds, but the combination just doesn't work for me.

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