Anna “The Italian Stallion” Simone is a 400 hurdler, who graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in nursing. Anna has a great deal of passion for nursing and deeply enjoys aiding sick individuals back to health/their best. She is also an Atlantic 10 Conference and Eastern College Athlete Conference finalist and 2x NCAA Regional 15th place finisher. Anna also holds the record for the 60mh, 500m, 100mh, 400mh, 4×4 Indoor and Outdoor at Duquesne!
What’s your story?
I grew up playing a variety of sports: basketball, baseball and softball, swimming, tennis, with soccer as my favorite…I played outside midfielder, you know, the position that is just running up and down the field, with what looks like, endlessly. But I loved it. And I was fast too! It was odd, from a young age I always knew when to “turn the jets on”…this translated directly into track…I always remember my mom after soccer games telling me, “You know, I would love to see what you could do just running. No ball. No nothing. Just you.”
I began running track in eighth grade and had my first glimpse of the love/hate relationship you develop with the sport. I continued to play soccer in high school, basketball, then Spring track. Of all the sports, track was always and will continue to be the hardest, yet my most successful. I broke records every year, PRed consistently in at least one event at every meet, and experienced the greatest guidance and support I had ever received from a crew of noteworthy coaches. But, in the midst of all this achievement, there was still something missing…Me. I hadn’t fallen in love with the sport by the time of my Senior year and was really hoping to play soccer at the college level. I was recruited by some small schools to play soccer, but other DI programs expressed a great interest in me for track. Looking back, it was the best decision I made…to accept the challenge, and agree to compete for Duquesne University.
I entered my Freshman year as a multi event athlete. I competed one indoor season in the Pentathlon…and after a semester of grueling preseason workouts, five hour long practices, with a 20 credit course load, I discussed with my coach alternative events I could perform that would better impact the team and myself. At this stage, I was a team player…but in track…you learn it doesn’t work that way. I struggled my outdoor season with a development of achilles tendonitis and an overall loss of purpose, direction, and passion for the sport. I picked up running the 400mH for the first time and did not like how often I would lose, and most of all the lactic acid buildup that would reach as far up as my jaw.
My sophomore year, I found my passion for the 400 hurdles and I went on to finishing 4th at Atlantic 10 Conference in the 400mH, 3rd at ECACs, and competed at my first NCAA Regionals. Junior year, track became my textbook and competitions really took off for me: I finished 1st in the 500 at indoor A10s, 1st in the 400mH at outdoor A10s, 2nd at ECACs, and finished 15th at NCAA Regionals. At this time, track became my 1st love and continues to be so! Senior year came up, along with a great deal of school work and responsibilities towards my degree. The resignation of my head coach a day before my first indoor meet did not help either…I did not reach the goals I imagined for myself by the time I graduated and my unachieved dream of becoming All-American still eats at me today. I finished my Senior year with another 1st place A10 Conference title in the 500m, 3rd place in the 60mH, 1st in the 400mH, 3rd place in the 100mH, 3rd at ECACs, and finished 15th again at NCAA Regionals. I thought, “Hey, at least I didn’t move backwards!”
I knew from the start of my Junior year that I could see myself running professionally past college. Track has become apart of me and has always been with me through my life’s achievements and losses. I cannot picture myself without it, and I do not see my journey as anywhere near over…I am still so hungry for more…I feel like the ultimate underdog, I just keep climbing and climbing. I have a lot of work to do and am so fortunate to have been referred to and accepted by ALTIS. I have all the attention, resources, insight, perspective I need right now at my professional track stage. I feel like, for the first time, I am truly running for myself, and when you allow yourself to reach this place, big things have the room to emerge!
What was your most monumental moment in Track and Field?
My most monumental moment was when I fell in love with Track and Field. After my Freshman year, I was glad the season was over and retreated into a very negative place…so deep that I decided to go out for the soccer team my Sophomore year. Much to my coach’s disappointment, this lead to first, heading to track practice, and then later in the evening hitting up soccer sessions. After a few weeks of this, I received word that the soccer coach was not interested in my talents and, instead of being disappointed, a feeling of relief washed over me…it was different…it was because I realized that I am meant to run track and be the best I can be as a track athlete…I was proud…I finally allowed myself to accept my path and I tell you, I have never been more appreciative to call myself a track athlete.
From that point on, a switch sparked inside of me and a fire ignited again! I was meant to compete at the Division I level and I made a promise to myself that I would take advantage of everything Duquesne had to offer me and to become the best I can with the resources available to me. And I couldn’t thank my track coaches enough for staying in my corner and continually inspiring me to reach my highest potential.
What is your mindset going into the Olympic year?
My mindset this year is short and sweet: running fast and becoming the best track athlete I can become! I am keeping my goals simple this year as well; run sub 56 in the 400mH and make it to the Olympics.
How is your training going so far?
So far, I am feeling stronger, leaner, and more technically sound than I did at this time last year. I am enjoying the training and how my coach has geared the workouts to the type of athlete I am. Why reinvent the wheel? I learned how to run track somehow and have ran fast times; so I can see why we are building off the platform I am on currently and not starting from scratch.
Advice to Young Athletes?
- Be okay with being the underdog…if you want it bad enough and put the work in the cream will rise to the top! 🙂
- Listen to your coaches…if you keep doubting them…then you will just continue doubting yourself…use their teachings as guidelines…not as your bible!
- Stay humble, always.
My advice to the average person is pretty simple.
- Never go more than two days without being active.
- Sufficient sleep is the key.
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew – in the gym along with the kitchen!
- Exercise a strong body AND soul – meditate!
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Thank you for Reading and Please check out our next Feature Friday with 200/400 meter sprinter, Candace Jackson!!
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