Sophomore Anthony Kostelac (Charlottesville, Va.) recently sat down with VirginiaSports.com to talk about the opening of the new track facility at the UVa Team Swashbuckle last Saturday (March 24), winning the final race of the meet and deciding to stay close to home for college.
Question: What was it like to compete at the new facility for the first time and to be in the final race of the meet (1,500 meters)?
Kostelac: It was great. We’ve been waiting so long for it to be done and to be able to have a meet here with a great facility, I personally think it’s one of the best outdoor facilities I’ve been to. If we get some permanent stands, it will be one of the best on the east coast.
It was exciting, everyone was watching it and we were hoping everyone would do well, which we did, and it ended up perfectly. It was fun to the last event with the whole team watching you.
Question: What are your thoughts on that race, being in third most of the race and finishing strong to grab the win?
Kostelac: The first couple laps were a good, honest pace, the pacers did a good job and it was perfectly set up. I just didn’t have the confidence to go with them (teammates Taylor Gilland and Brett Johnson) for about 70 percent of the race and then with 200 (meters) to go, I always rely on a kick to help me out and it was just enough to barely edge out Taylor at the end. We all ran great times and it was just a perfect set up.
Question: Does having you and your teammates finish 1-2-3-4 with all good times bring confidence to the team for the remainder of the season?
Kostelac: Oh yeah, absolutely. It was basically just us, Virginia, in the race, and to all go out there without really anyone to compete against, it kind of makes it harder to run great times. To run such great times, it says so much about our upcoming season, we can only go faster from here, it’s exciting.
Question: Which race do you prefer more, the 1,500 or the 800, that you raced more last year?
Kostelac: I prefer the 800. I can do the 1,500 and the mile well, but I prefer the faster pace in the 800 and can do better in that event.
Question: You went to high school at nearby Albemarle High School, did you always think you would end up at Virginia? How did you decide on becoming a Cavalier?
Kostelac: I moved here in ninth grade and didn’t run until then. I remember my recruiting process and UVa was in my back yard. Honestly, I didn’t even want to come here because I didn’t think it would be fun, just the same old, same old, but it really wasn’t like that at all. I grew to realize that maybe my best option is in my back yard and that’s why I chose to come here. I’m really happy with it. I still have family and friends be able to come and watch me and that was another major factor of coming to UVa.
Question: How did you get into running?
Kostelac: I did cross country in the fourth grade and a funny story, in my first race, I didn’t do too well and I told my mom, “Mom, I’m going to come in top-10 next race.” She was like, “Okay, whatever,” and didn’t think I was going to do that, but the next race, I got fourth or fifth and that set the spark that I could be pretty competitive in running. I didn’t run again until the ninth grade in cross country and then got better and better and it became a way of life. I used to be a big swimmer and think that helped me tremendously become a better runner.
Question: What is your favorite part of UVa?
Kostelac: The team. I feel that we’re all a close-knit group and everyone is friends with everyone. I really like that and it’s both sides. We’re all friends and teammates who want to see everyone do well and compete together.
Question: Where is your favorite place to run around Charlottesville?
Kostelac: The Rivanna trail, you can kind of get away and you don’t have to run that far to get there. Any part of it, it’s a single-track trail and you go out there and can get away from a bunch of things.
Question: Do you have any plans after graduation?
Kostelac: I haven’t really thought about that yet. Hopefully continue running if I can and if I progress far enough physically.
Question: What is your favorite class?
Kostelac: Any of my astronomy classes, or the history class I’m in right now with Professor Gary Gallagher, it’s really interesting and I like him as a professor. It’s American Military History, I just really like going to lectures and find history one of the more interesting subjects and always have. He just makes it more interesting as a teacher.
Question: With Virginia hosting the ACC Championships only a few weeks away (April 19-21), what are your goals for this season?
Kostelac: I’m the defending champ in the 800 and I’d like to continue that. My coach may throw me in the 1,500 as well, not sure yet, but I want to score as many points as I can for the team. After that, I’d like to get the ‘A’ standard to go Olympic Trials, which I’ve gone faster than that before. So, if I continue to do well and get under that, I’d like to be able to say that I’ve made it to the Olympic Trials and done well in Eugene (Oregon). That’s my plan for this year.