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North Hills' Pietrzyk prepares to run at Duquesne

| Friday, June 23, 2017, 11:00 p.m.

It is fitting that Ava Pietrzyk attended North Hills High School.

After all, it was her ability to run the toughest hills in the area that got her a Division I scholarship.

Pietrzyk, one of the top cross country and track athletes in the WPIAL, signed her national letter of intent to Duquesne.

“I feel honored to have earned a scholarship to compete at Duquesne,” Pietrzyk said. “After many years of hard work and training in high school, I feel that I was able to earn this scholarship based upon my dedication and commitment to the sport.”

Pietrzyk had her eyes set on the Dukes ever since they offered her a scholarship in July of 2016. After a brief discussion with family and friends, Pietrzyk committed two weeks later and stuck to that commitment through her senior season.

“Duquesne was the best fit for me in terms of both athletics and academics,” Pietrzyk said. “I felt that the level of competition at Duquesne would help me excel even further in my running career.

“In addition, Duquesne has a strong reputation for academics with a great five-year physician assistant program. This field is something I have been interested in for several years now, and I am excited to pursue this career through my education at Duquesne.”

At North Hills, Pietrzyk was a four-time Class 3A state qualifier and two-time state medalist in cross country. She was announced as team MVP for the Indians in her freshman and senior seasons, and was a team captain this past year. In track, she was a three-time medalist at the WPIAL championships and qualified twice at the PIAA championships in the 3,200-meter.

“Ava was a dedicated student-athlete at North Hills, who put her heart into everything she did,” North Hills athletic director Amy Scheuneman said. “Ava excelled in the classroom and on the cross country course. We are excited to have her continue at Duquesne and look forward to reading about her future successes.”

Pietrzyk will continue to compete in both cross country and track at Duquesne University. In track, she will most likely run the 3,000-meter and 5,000-meter.

“Ava's cross country and 3,200-meter results from North Hills High School should allow her to contend for a spot among the top seven runners of Duquesne's 2017 women's cross country team and also to be one of the top incoming freshmen distance runners in the Atlantic 10 Conference,” Duquesne head coach Jim Lear said.

It wasn't only in athletics where Pietrzyk excelled. In her senior year, she was awarded the KDKA Extra Effort Award for her work in the classroom, in her sport, and in the community.

“I was very pleased to be chosen for this award,” Pietrzyk said. “It meant a great deal to me that I was recognized for all of the hard work I put into both school work and training for cross country and track.”

Pietrzyk is currently in Europe on a trip planned by the school's language department. Just another example of her going the extra mile.

“This trip was organized through the school language department and it is 16 days long,” Pietrzyk said. “We are traveling to six countries throughout Europe to experience and learn about different cultures. These countries include France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Spain. So far, it has been an amazing experience that I will never forget.”

Drew Karpen is a freelance writer.

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