A well maintained student makes an immediate impact as a first year runner. Winning the Southern California title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase turned a lot of heads including his coaches.
Patrick O’Neil, 19, has been running for as long as he can remember.
Running has not been the most important part, learning during the process has. As a runner and a person, O’Neil is a friendly person to be with.
O’Neil is the kind of person that will do whatever it takes to get what he’s going after. And he’ is as friendly as they come. Coaches say they love having him a part of the team. “He always gets along with everyone and always listens to what I say,” said coach Eddie Lopez. “Except for the weekends, when Pat gets lazy and his numbers start to drop down a little.”
O’Neil loves being with his friends and family on the days he has free time. “I love just hanging out with my friends, watching TV or eating somewhere, that’s where the good times are for me. And when I’m not with my friends, I like being with my family and spending quality time with them.”
When O’Neil is not with his friends and family or running track, you can find him under his Pontiac Trans AM. He dedicates a lot of his free time working on his classic car, which he loves more than anything. “It’s all about the muscle cars, you can’t go wrong with a powerful American car,” said O’Neil. Of course, a main focus in his life includes studying so that he can one day get a degree.
Even though he does not know where he is going to transfer to, he knows that he is going to stay close to his family. O’Neil is from a big family; it consists of a brother and three sisters and his parents. His little sister currently runs cross country, at an high school and if she is as talented as he is, GCC may see another O’Neil winning titles someday.
O’Neil only started running track and field a few years ago in his freshmen year at Lowalie High School. The competition get harder when he came to GCC, but that did not stop him from going the extra mile to win his meets.
“I just like to drink a lot of water during a meet and trying to visualize the race and do my best before each meet.”
Both coaches, Lopez and Tom McMurray, are very grateful to have a runner like O’Neil on the team.
“He first impressed me at Citrus early in the season when he ran the 1,500 [meter],” said Lopez. “I knew then and there that he was a dedicated runner and he could be really great.”
He added, “The one thing I love about Patrick is that he’ll put it all on the line when its time for the meet, he will not hold anything back. His speed always gets him the win because I haven’t seen someone with speed like his in a long time.”
Some of O’Neil’s credit should go to Lopez, “Coach Lopez has done a great job on O’Neil, in training him and doing whatever it takes to make him in the best shape that he could be,” said McMurray. “He really has a toughness in him and coach Lopez makes him bring it out during the meets. I try to give him some confidence and talk to him about some strategies sometimes and give him some little tips here and there.”
Both coaches are hoping that O’Neil comes back next year and goes out to defend his titles and keep them at Glendale.