PA Salute to Seniors: Ava Pietrzyk (North Hills)

Photo by Don Rich

Today, we salute Ava Pietryzk of North Hills. Pietryzk just completed a great career in the distance events. She was a four-time state qualifier in AAA cross country with a best of 19:03 for 5K on the hills of Hershey at the PIAA State Championships. She twice earned XC state medals. On the track she was a two-time outdoor state qualifier in the 3200 meters and one-time indoor state qualifier in the 3000 meters. She has a 1600 meter best of 5:09 and a 3200 meter best of 10:53.

Throughout the end of June and through July we we be honoring our graduating seniors. To submit your own questionnaire to be posted on the front page of PennTrackXC, check out this page and email your responses to Dan Beck (

To check out all the Salute To Senior submissions so far, click here!


What was your most memorable race/competition?
My most memorable race was the 3200m at the Spire Institute HS Showcase during the 2016 indoor track season.  I earned a PR time of 10:53 in this race against some great competition. The last two laps were intense and I had to maintain my focus to prevent anyone from passing me. (Watch the race above!)

Where did you face your biggest competition?
I faced my biggest competition at the Cross Country and Track PIAA State Championships.  The AAA field of girls was large with extremely talented runners. This helped push me to improve upon my own times.

Out of all of your high school accomplishments, which stands out the most?
During my time in high school competition, the accomplishment that stands out the most is earning a second state medal and running a 10 second PR to end my senior season at the PIAA AAA State Cross Country Championships. 

If you could do it all over again, what would you change about your athletic career in high school?

If I had to start my high career over again, I wouldn't change anything! Running has taught me how to deal with many highs and lows. These experiences will help me throughout college competition and the rest of my life in both sports and personal endeavors.  

What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
Some of the most difficult obstacles I had to overcome were the tough training runs and workouts that required me to push myself past my limits.  Also, the summer before my junior cross country season I experienced an Achilles injury that set my training back. With the help of my coach and some hard work to get my fitness level back, I ended up coming back and earning my first state medal.  


What will you miss the most?

I will miss all of my teammates from North Hills and the close friendships we formed.  In addition, I will miss the friends that I made from other school districts that trained with me at North Park every week.

Do you have any advice for younger athletes?

My advice would be to enjoy your time as an athlete in high school and take every opportunity you can to do well.  Hard work and determination will take you far and lead to success in athletics and academics.

How have your coaches influenced your performances and your life goals overall?

Coach John Wilkie made a huge impact on my running career during high school. I worked with him from my freshman through junior year before he retired from coaching. He constructed training plans that fit my personal strengths and motivated me to succeed. He prepared me mentally before races and helped me to achieve some of my main goals in the sport.


What are your post-high school plans? 
I will be running cross country and track at Duquesne University under Coach James Lear. Academically, I will be studying in the 5-year physician assistant program. 


Shout outs?

Thank you to my coaches, family, and friends for supporting me throughout my high school running career and helping motivate me to succeed. Special shout outs to my North Hills teammates and the North Park crew!