Daily News spotlight athletes: West Mifflin's Ryan Brennen, Serra Catholic's Amber DeCarlo
School: West Mifflin
Sport: Cross country
Claim to fame: Brennen finished in 17 minutes, 47.9 seconds at the Big South Invitational at Mingo Park last week to take fifth place and help the Titans finish second overall.
“He's our senior leader who really got his mileage in this summer,” coach Greg Rozgonyi said. “We needed him to step up over the summer, and he certainly did that. He's a hard worker. Cross country is a team sport, but it's also an individual sport. He tried to get others on the team together over the summer so they could get their mileage in and make our team better. He's a good kid.”
What did you do to prepare yourself over the summer?
I just put in a lot of miles each week. The max I did was 55 miles per week. We also did a lot of team things as well. I met up with six of the guys twice a week to do some distance running — five to six miles at a time. We also did a couple of speed days as well.
How do you stay focused when you're doing a difficult run?
If I'm with my teammates it's easy because we can talk while we run and that takes the mind off the task at hand. When I'm alone it's a little harder. I just think about anything really to take my mind off of the run. I think about what I'm going to eat tonight or something like that.
Do you have a favorite course that you've run?
I would say the Mingo Park run would be my favorite. I like that it's in the woods. It just has a nice feel to it, especially when the leaves start to change and fall. It's really nice and you get a nice feeling when you're running through.
What are your plans for next year?
I'm not exactly sure where I'm going yet. I'm going to finish my applications in a few weeks and send them all out. I would like to keep running if I can, but it depends on which school I go to. I'd like to major in some type of science field.
What do you have to do to make it to states?
I just have to stay healthy and keep taking my times down like I've been doing all season. I've been doing that consistently. I just have to keep doing my best each day and giving my all.
School: Serra Catholic
Claim to fame: DeCarlo recorded a school-record eight assists in Serra Catholic's 11-1 rout of Beth-Center on Saturday. She also netted a hat trick in an 11-0 win over Monessen last week, and had two more helpers against Riverview. She has eight goals and 24 assists on the season for the Eagles (8-4-, 4-4), who are in fourth place in Section 2-A.
“I've known Amber since she was about 7 or 8 years old, and when I became coach her freshman year, I believed she was the most skilled player around,” coach Ed Manfredi said. “We felt that she had to become a leader this year. She's very skilled and I just felt that she had to come into her own this season and take the lead. Amber is a great defender but her ball-handling and passing skills are excellent and she's very unselfish. There were several times when she could have had a goal against Beth-Center but passed for an assist instead.”
How did you get into soccer?
When I was 7, my mom signed me up to play for an association team and I have loved it ever since.
Can you talk about the game where you had eight assists?
I had no idea that it was a record. I wasn't keeping track or anything. I just like to give other people opportunities and I'm happy with an assist. I like giving the ball to my teammates and give them an opportunity to score a goal. I just stay focused and remember that I'm doing this for my teammates, not just me. They are my motivation.
What do you enjoy most about soccer?
I think it's fun and I get to play with all of my friends. I just really enjoy doing it.
Which opponent do you think will give your team a tough test in the playoffs?
In the past, Greensburg Central Catholic has been a really tough team. If we make the playoffs, I'm sure they will continue to be a challenge.
What do you like to do outside of soccer?
I like to hang out with my friends and just go out and do things with them.
What are your plans for college?
I'm undecided about where I want to go, but I want to study criminal justice. I'm not sure if I want to keep playing. A few schools are looking at me to play, but I haven't decided if I want to or not.