The vacation is over.
Three weeks ago, Ammar Moussa spent a week in Punta Umbria, Spain, which is located on the Atlantic Ocean coast between Portugal and Gibraltar.
It was not a true vacation, though. The Arcadia High School senior was competing in the IAAF World Cross Country Championship's men's junior division. He finished 32nd, the second-best performance by an American, and helped the U.S. team to an eighth-place finish.
It was a lot of fun, Moussa said of his second appearance in the world championships. It was completely different from the first time. It was by the beach, I knew all the guys and my coach (Arcadia distance coach Jim O'Brien) was there.
It was like a vacation.
After having his entire cross country season under a microscope, the two-time CIF-Southern Section and CIF State champion will have his track and field season receive that same scrutiny.
This weekend, he will be competing in the 44th annual Arcadia Invitational. The meet will be on the track he trains on nearly every day.
That includes doing interval workouts on Saturdays, when his team is running in an invitational somewhere else.
I've been working toward the Arcadia Invitational and the Mt. SAC Relays, he said.
Moussa won every cross country race he ran last year.
Last year in track as a junior, he won a CIF-SS title in the 3,200 meters, but did not win the state 3,200 crown. That went to west San Advertisement How to Relieve your Joints?Shocking discovery by Boston Researchers for amazing joint relief... Top Stock for 2011 - GTSODesperate Search For Rare Earth Minerals Solved. Rare Opportunity. Gabriel Valley competitor Sam Pons of South Pasadena.
In the Arcadia Invitational last year, Moussa finished 11th.
Moussa will be competing in Friday's baton portion of the meet with his teammates. Moussa will anchor a 4x1,600 relay team that also will include Sergio Gonzalez, Ryan Vargas and Eric Garibay. The team is taking aim at the national record.
On Saturday, Moussa will compete in one of the meet's highly anticipated races, the 3,200. Eight runners who have run faster than nine minutes are entered.
It's going to be one of the best races of the night, O'Brien said.
Running in Spain for the national team changed some of Moussa's perspective for track and field. He did not start doing interval training on the track until recently.
I'm just coming out of cross country training, he said.
He's nowhere close to being in track shape yet, O'Brien said.
But with that cross country training, the Colorado-bound runner had a personal-best time of 4:09.00 in the 1,600 at the Golden Stripes qualifier at Azusa Pacific, a week after returning from Spain. He finished second to Trabuco Hills' Jantzen Oshier, who ran a 4:07.78.
I didn't even know I was going to run that until the night before, he said. It was like a last-second decision. But once I got going, it was go for it.
I was surprised (by the time). I felt so strong.
But O'Brien was not surprised, and for good reason.
Moussa recently ran mile times of 4:25, 4:22 and 4:19 with only a five-minute interlude between each.
I'm more fit than I have ever been in my life, Moussa said.
Jake Hurysz of Eastern Alam, N.C., won the Arcadia Invitational in 8:49.76 last year. Moussa's 11th-place finish was just under the nine-minute mark.
But he said he thinks he has the potential to go faster this year.
I think I can go at least 8:50, he said. In the past, I would think about what I did here and what I did there. If I have the perfect race, I can do better.
In February, he ran an 8:56, his best time at the distance.
Pons, who finished fifth in the Arcadia Invitational last year, also will be competing in the race. Pons was the top finishing junior. Paul Zeman of Illinois, one of the nation's top distance runners, will compete as well.
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