Junior Luca Signore burst on to the Santa Clara cross country and track scene as a freshman and hasn't looked back, furthering his growth as one of the squad's fastest and most reliable members. After setting multiple Santa Clara freshman records in track, Signore recently concluded a strong sophomore season and has his sights set on taking the team's performance to new heights in 2012.
Recently, www.santaclarabroncos.com caught up with the Saratoga, Calif. native who figures to be one of the team's frontrunners this year. Signore shared how he first began competing in running, how his high school coach influenced his life and how running in hail storms with 70 mile-per-hour winds is risky business.
By: Vince Menon '14
SCB: When did you first start running competitively?
LS: I started running competitively in 7th grade. We had this event called the "Turkey Trot" at my middle school and my friend Tommy wanted me to do it with him. I ended up getting third place, so I decided to join the track team that spring and I fell in love. Earlier that year, I played volleyball because I was the tallest kid in school (unfortunately I haven't grown since then), but took up cross country the following year.
SCB: How are you keeping up your training during the summer?
LS: This summer [Head Coach] Felipe Montoro has me running 80 to 100 miles a week. I'm currently still building up to that so I'm hitting about 70 right now, but by August I should be ready to go for the big miles.
SCB: Do coaches have a plan for you or do you set your own schedule?
LS: We have a general weekly plan which consists of two long runs and four days of regular runs with one day of optional rest. During the summer, I usually don't take my rest days completely off. I either run a little bit easier on a flatter surface, or I swim or bike as cross-training.
SCB: What do you think of the potential of next year's squad?
LS: We have a ton of potential going into next year. We are always seen as the underdogs, which definitely helps pump us up when we get a chance to beat one of the "good" schools. We only lost two members of the top seven this year and all our younger members are getting stronger and more experienced. Obviously we'll need some luck in terms of avoiding injuries, but as long as we can stay healthy, the sky's the limit. I personally think that for us to make that next step and to compete at an elite level team-wise, we need to really focus on the team aspect. We are working on making the team more like a family by planning more events together and trying to get everyone that's around during the summer to run together.
SCB: How are your eating habits?
LS: I would like to say that I have a super healthy diet but that's not really the case. I do try and avoid foods with lots of sugars and try to eat more fruit, but besides that I tend to eat a lot. Running this many miles really drains your energy and eating definitely helps with recovery. In-season I try to pay more attention to my diet but the bigger thing for me is getting enough sleep and staying healthy. I had multiple colds last year and it was definitely detrimental to my performances so I'm hoping to take better care of myself this year.
SCB: What type of running shoes do you prefer and where do you purchase them?
LS: I really like the Asics Kayano series; unfortunately they are on the pricier end of the spectrum. I really like shopping at Ryan's Sport Shop, it's a five minute walk away from campus and I've been buying my running shoes there since freshmen year in high school so I like to support them.
SCB: Where is your favorite place to run? Which course have you most enjoyed during your time as a Santa Clara runner?
LS: I'd have to say that my favorite place to run is Nisene Marks State Park in Santa Cruz. It's a bit of a drive so we don't go there very often, but when we do, it's definitely a treat.
However, my most memorable run was without a doubt during my senior year at Lynbrook High School. One day, there was huge storm with 70 mph winds. Although practice was cancelled, the varsity team and I thought it would be a good idea to run to the top of the tallest hill in the area. Even though it was only two miles, it was by far the toughest run I had ever done with the wind blowing us backwards and hail pouring down on us. When we finally got to the top we yelled our team cheer as loud as we could, ran back down, and got donuts and hot chocolate.
My favorite course that I've competed on at Santa Clara has got to be Crystal Springs. I ran there all throughout high school and it was great to get to run there again for college. The conference finals at Crystal Springs during my freshmen year was one of my best races. I had just gotten back from a broken toe and still hadn't raced well in college but I was finally able to get it together and help my team get third place in our conference by one point.
SCB: Have you ever had a serious health concern while on a run?
LS: I've never had anything [serious], but I did break a toe at our team camping trip freshman year from playing beach soccer barefoot -- not the brightest idea.
SCB: What is the team dynamic like and how do you help each other improve?
LS: The team chemistry on the men's team is great. Whether it's by running with each other or just hanging out after practice, we always do what we can to push each other and become a closer and stronger team.
The funniest moment I've had with the team was on our trip to Indiana for the Notre Dame invitational. Coach Montoro forgot what time our return flight was until 20 minutes before the flight was supposed to leave. We sprinted through the airport carrying all our bags, ran through the express security line, and somehow made it on our plane.
SCB: Who has been the biggest inspiration in your life?
LS: My high school coach Hank Lawson has definitely been the biggest inspiration in my life. He has always been a mentor and friend to me and I love being able to talk to him about anything. He was a great coach because he was able to make my teammates and me fall in love with running and want to do it. He also taught us many life lessons and I can honestly say that he made me not only a better runner, but also a better person. I will never forget all the times we spent together: at practice and in Lake Tahoe and Santa Cruz for the summer running camps we had in high school. We always had a competition to see if I could beat his high school times when I was in high school. I think it would have been really cool to race against him when he was in high school.
SCB: If not running, which sport would you have played and why?
LS: Definitely basketball. Unfortunately I'm a bit on the short side but basketball is definitely my favorite sport. I grew up playing basketball with my dad on our driveway. He was on the Italian under-18 national team so he usually puts up a good fight although I'm pretty good at using my endurance and tiring him out so I can beat him in the end.
SCB: What is one thing you wish the SCU community knew about the SCU running program that they might not know?
LS: That our home meet, Bronco Invite, is only 15 minutes away and we would love it if lots of students and faculty members came out to watch. Last year, the Men's Basketball team came to watch which was really cool. We always go as a group to watch their games so it meant a lot that they came to our meet. The Bronco Invite is October 13th at 8 am at Baylands Park in Sunnyvale. We hope to see everyone there!