By Adrianna Clinton
After her highly anticipated return to the track last season, Angelica Gonzalez has determined her home for the next four years, committing to East Carolina University to run Division I Track.
Angelica Gonzalez never expected to receive any scholarship offers from colleges after she was plagued with numerous injuries in her sophomore and junior years.
During her freshman year, Gonzalez lit up the track. She was a county champion and district runner-up in the 100 and 200-meter dashes, as well as a state medalist in those same events, and qualified for nationals. Along the way, she was dubbed “Freshman Phenom” and “Speedy Gonzalez” as she broke three school records, four invitational records, and a county and district record.
But after experiencing two severe, unexpected hamstring injuries her sophomore year and slightly injuring the same muscle during the peak of her season at counties her junior year, Gonzalez thought she “lost everything.”
Regardless, she still gained the interest of many Division I schools, including UPenn, Bucknell, Virginia Tech, Cornell, Brown University, Michigan State and East Michigan.
Among those schools was also East Carolina University, where the track star recently committed.
“[East Carolina] is beautiful, in the South, D-I, and has state of the art facilities...as far as the track program, they’re knowledgeable and like a really big family. The town around it has a lot of school pride, too,” Gonzalez said.
After spending a weekend at the campus in North Carolina, meeting with the coach, and receiving an “overwhelming” scholarship offer, “Tears welled up in my eyes and I got emotional. I didn’t think I would get anything,” Gonzalez said.
East Carolina is part of the American Athletic Conference, and is known for having not only good academics, but also a good track program. Last season, women’s track and field took home first place at the Conference USA Championship, and the Pirates also sent 10 athletes to the NCAA Outdoor National Championships, a school record.
“I’m proud to represent Red Lion there and to be one of the few students here to go D-I...we [Red Lion] should be noticed. We’re not just ‘old Red Lion.’ This school got me where I am,” Gonzalez said.
Some noteworthy alumni of East Carolina include actress Sandra Bullock and New York Jets running-back Chris Johnson, as well as Red Lion’s very own Mr. Matt Dennish, who competed as a distance runner at East Carolina and is now a physical education teacher at the high school.
In his time with Red Lion, the 2004 graduate set the 800-meter school record (1:54.7) at the YAIAA championships and finished second at districts in the 1,600. At the collegiate level, Dennish was regularly a top finisher in both cross country and track contests.
“She is a great talent and has a lot of potential...ECU is an excellent fit for her. I’m proud that Red Lion has an athlete joining the Pirate family,” Dennish said of Gonzalez’s commitment.
Other notable college commitments so far this school year include Paige Taylor to York College for Division III field hockey and Jenna Hevner to Shippensburg University for Division II volleyball.
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