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Published: July 21, 2008
Ducks Attack recently sat down with Oregon tack star AJ Acosta who ran in the Olympic Trials in Eugene earlier this month.
DA:What has been your Overall Experience from the week, How were you taken care of by the staff… how was it?
AA:The experience for the meet was awesome. All the elite athletes walking around, all the fans, it truly was the most spectacular thing I have seen, and even been a part of. The staff were all more than accommodating, which was a big plus because the trials could have been very stressful, but the support and staff were all very helpful.
DA:Crowd Factor, What was it like out there running in front of the home crowd with the Oregon jersey?
AA:Nothing beats being a duck and running front of the home crowd. I didn’t use to believe in stuff like that, but having run here for two years now, I can truly say it’s a big boost to have the crowd on your side when you’re feeling tired and you want to give up. The best was when they were doing the introductions and they say your name… the crowd goes nuts. You try to be serious and not smile, but it’s so hard not too. Its really very exciting to be able to have this kind of exposure and fan base that we have here.
DA:First Race Trip, Getting tripped up in the first race, What was going through your head when you hit the track?
AA:The only thing going through my mind when I hit the ground is something I probably can’t put in print, but once I collected myself I just thought, “Finish the race, don’t give up!” I know it didn’t look like I was trying very hard, but that fall really jarred my legs, back, and spirit. I just wanted it to be over so I could try to hopefully get ready for the next round.
DA:Found Out to race again, What was going on when you found out you could race again even though you didn’t finish top, Where were you, who were you with?
AA:I found out later that night that I was in the next round for sure. I was pretty sure after the race was done that I would get into the next round because I wasn’t at fault. Unfortunately in these more tactical races, everyone is bunched together and stuff like that happens. When I got the call from coach Powell though, I was by myself in my hotel room cleaning up. First thing I did was call my mom, she was so worried about me so she was the first person I called.
DA:The Oregon Success sophomore trio, With you Andy and Ashton all doing so well.. What is it like to not only have them as teammates but as friends as well?
AA:Not even including Ashton and Andy, we have a tremendous sophomore (now junior) class. All the guys are great people, great runners, and great friends. It’s really a blessing to be able to run with these guys day in and day out, because you really couldn’t ask for a more supportive and more genuine group of guys.
As for Andy and Ashton, they are the future of this team, I’m just here for the ride. I think that both of them look to me at certain times, and I try and steer them in the right direction when they need to be. The greatest thing about those two is that they have some of the best competitive instincts I’ve ever seen. They just love to compete, and that’s why they are as good as they are. We’re all pretty good friends, and really I’m just glad to be a part of this whole experience, winning Nationals in cross country was amazing because we all shared it together. Same thing goes for us winning Pac-10’s the past two years, its been incredible to be able to share it with these group of guys. I think the best part of the whole team is that they are so green. They don’t really know what the limit is for any of us, and we keep exceeding expectations. I think one of the biggest reasons for that is the bond that we all have with each other. I know every team thinks that they have the best friendships, the best and closest bonds, but I genuinely think that we do, and that’s why we are so successful.
DA:What are the chances of seeing you here again in 2012?
AA:If I was betting man I’d say its as close to even money as you can get. I feel like I have a lot left in the tank, and I’ll just be turning 24 that year, so I wont even be in prime yet. It will be interesting to see my progression over the next four years, to say the least.
DA:What did the trials do for UO? As track is not exactly a top 3 sport, seeing all the Duck fans come out, what do you think that will do for your sport?
AA:It was incredible. Besides football, you can’t get 20,000 people to come to anything. We had an average well over that, and I think that speaks volumes about the fan base we have here. Right now I’m in Toluca, Mexico for the NACAC (North America, Central America, and Carribean) U23 Championships, and all everyone can talk about on the team is how cool the experience was, how awesome it was to have all the fans watching, and what not. We have the biggest, most knowledgeable, and most enthusiastic fan base, I think it rivals some of our major sports even. We have some pretty big die hards out there, and I think it’s awesome that Eugene can have that type of crowd out for what is essentially the biggest, deepest, and most exciting track race in the United States every year.
DA:What about Eugene makes it Track Town USA in your mind?
AA id I mention the fans yet?
DA:How did the duel jumbo screens affect you? good or bad?
AA:As a competitor, I didn’t really pay too much mind to the Globo-tron. As a spectator it was great to be able to watch the action and see the automatic results pop up.
DA:Where do you go from here?
AA:Well right now, like I mentioned, I am in Toluca Mexico for the NACAC U23 championships. After that, one more 1500m race on the 30th of July in Eugene and then we’ll play the rest by ear. If I’m still feeling good, we’ll keep racing, if not, we’ll shut it down and get ready for cross. Either way I’m excited for what lays ahead.
I’d like to thank AJ for the time taken to answer these questions, be sure to check back frequently for interviews with other Oregon stars