Dipre, Symoniak shine at Nationals

Two Allegheny athletes participated in the NCAA Division III Track and Field Indoor Championships March 12 and 13. Tony Dipre, ’10, placed third in the mile, earning his second straight All-American title. Mia Symoniak, ’10, finished 12th in the 5,000-meter run.
Elaina Mercatoris: Before the conference meet, how confident were you that you could make Nationals? What were your expectations?
Tony Dipre: I was pretty confident that I was going to make it. I made it last year so I knew I could do it. My expectations all year were to do my best so I could make it to Nationals.
Mia Symoniak: I can’t say I was expecting it going into the meet. There was a girl from Denison who I thought would try and hit the qualifier too. So I was really just planning on going out and sticking with her. I ended up really surprising myself and I was really excited with it.
EM: As a senior, how did you feel not only about your personal accomplishment but the team’s as well during NCAC Championships?
TD: I was pretty happy with it. I mean, we’re very thin. And we don’t have a full team as a lot of teams in conference do. We don’t have any competitors in some events. Still, to hold up and get third was pretty impressive.
MS: I was really happy with the way the team did at conferences. I don’t think anybody was really expecting anything of us. Actually, I was standing by the results table and there were these two girls standing there saying, “Where did Allegheny come from? Why are they doing so well?” Nobody really expects anything from us during indoor. I think we really surprised a couple of teams.
EM: At the NCAA Championships, how were you feeling before your race, watching the other events or even just preparing for your race? What was your mindset going into the race?
TD: The way the National meet works is they have this holding area for the competitors. It’s removed from the track. I guess I planned to still stick to the same routine as always. Headphones on, zone out, and stay as relaxed as possible.
MS: It’s definitely nerve-wracking. Standing in there, watching all these other girls warm up around you. But it’s exciting at the same time. I couldn’t wait to get out on the track and get going.
EM: What was going through your head during the race?
TD: On Friday were prelims. The idea was just to relax, make sure you get in. Once that was accomplished on the first day, in the final race, I found myself in the lead right off the gun. Not something I expected and not something I really wanted to do. I led for 1200 meters of the race until I got passed by the eventual winner. Not how I wanted the race to work out, but, I mean, it still worked out pretty well.
MS: [The race] went out a lot faster than I have ever gone out in a race before. I actually ended up setting a 3k personal record in the middle of the race. So I knew that it was really fast. I guess I just kept telling myself to hold on for as long as I could.
EM: How did you feel about your performance?
TD: It was kind of bittersweet. It was nice in the fact that I was like, ‘Wow, I’m third in the country right now. This is pretty exciting.’ It was also kind of like, ‘Ugh, I was kind of planning on winning this race.’
MS: I’m not completely happy with the way it turned out. But I’m happy with the way that I went after the race. Last year at outdoor nationals I feel like the brunt of the race got away from me at the very beginning. This year I went after it.
EM: How does this experience rate among others?
TD: [This is] probably right up there as one of the best. All-American is pretty exciting. To have one of the higher finishes in Allegheny history… it’s one of top two experiences for me, the other one being first time [receiving] All-American in cross country.
MS: I mean, it’s definitely something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life, especially the race at conferences. Hitting the qualifier and the conference record and everything. I think I like… fell over, I was so happy when I heard my time at conferences, because I wasn’t expecting it at all. I mean, my goal coming into the season was to beat the school record, which is 17:29. I ended up running a 17:19. I was just so excited.
The team has already switched gears into outdoor practices. However, Dipre will not be competing in outdoor track this year on account of eligibility so that he can compete next year with a super senior status. However, Symoniak looks forward to qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor Championships.
Track and field kicks off their outdoor season over spring break, competing at the Washington and Lee Invitational on March 26.