Anthony Amroski's legs have carried him far.
Soon, they will take him to places he's never ventured before, including the world of collegiate cross country.
Amroski, who will graduate from Eisenhower High School on Friday night, recently signed a national letter of intent to run cross country for Mercyhurst University and head coach Mike Fraley, beginning this fall.
Photo submitted to the Times Observer
Eisenhower High School senior Anthony Amroski, center, recently signed a national letter of intent to run cross country for Mercyhurst University and coach Mike Fraley, beginning this fall. Looking on as the two-time PIAA qualifier signs his letter are, from left, parents Peter Amroski and Janet Amroski, Ike head cross country coach Darlene Beach and Ike assistant cross country coach Ryan Hoffman.
Despite being just 18 years old, Amroski is a seasoned veteran in the world of running. He's been on the go since moving to the area from New Hampshire during second grade. Right from the start, he knew it was something he could excel at.
"I first realized I excelled at running during Mileage Club in elementary school," said Amroski. "During recess, I would run about four miles and then go swing with my friends, not even tired."
Running continued as a hobby until junior high when Amroski signed up for the Knights' cross country team. From there, running was no longer a hobby - it was a love.
"It became apparent to me that I loved the sport itself my first year of cross country," said Amroski. "I was able to make friends and have fun while doing what I enjoy. I started to want to excel more and more during my freshman year and each year I strived to set new goals and make more benchmarks."
Perhaps unknowingly, Amroski quickly became part of the rich running history at Eisenhower High School. He said that while the past runners never really motivated him to run, they did help cultivate a strong sense of "Ike pride" within himself that he carries to this day.
"It made me feel like I was part of a long strung history of greatness from Eisenhower and encouraged me to carry that pride where ever I go," he said. "Furthermore, I was able to research runners, learn about them and look at times and understand how similar the great runners from Eisenhower are to the current runners now. We are all human, all Knights and all can achieve greatness."
During his high school career, Amroski didn't just "love" the sport of cross country. He excelled at it as well. Amroski was a three-time region all-star and he twice qualified for the PIAA Championships. He was an impressive 65th at the state level as a junior in 2011 and bettered that this past season when he finished 59th.
Veteran Ike cross country coach Darlene Beach said Amroski, his approach to running and his dedication as a teammate has impressed her during his four years on the varsity team.
"He's certainly a dedicated teammate," said Beach. "He's always encouraging the other runners and has no problem putting their needs ahead of his own. He's enjoyable to be around and works well with others. Anthony was also a very dependable and determined runner. Even this past year when he had some setbacks with injuries, he never gave up and was able to get back to states and improve on his finish from the previous year."
That junior year - the one where Amroski broke through and first qualified for the PIAA meet - was also the year that the future Laker began thinking that college cross country may be a path he'd be interested in traveling down.
"Running in college popped into my head my junior year," said Amroski. "I just didn't want to stop my competitive racing and decided to continue it. The e-mails and mail came in from some college coaches and the idea became a reality."
While Mercyhurst wasn't the only choice on the table, Amroski ultimately decided that the Erie school was the place for him.
"I chose Mercyhurst because I felt comfortable with the campus," he said. "My sister went there and I already knew some things about it. My contact with coach Fraley started with an e-mail. He set up a visit that went really well and my mind was set. The guys were close knit just like my previous team and were very welcoming. I liked the guys, the coach and the campus. It was clearly the place for me."
Two of Amroski's biggest supporters during his competitive years have been his parents, Peter and Janet. Janet said that watching her son run at the next level will be "an absolute joy."
"It's really amazing to see how far he's progressed throughout the years," she said. "Now he's going off to college and we will still have that opportunity to be there and watch him do what he loves to do. Absolutely, that's nice. His sister (Alicia) ran at Lock Haven so running kind of runs in the family. It's wonderful to have such a close knit family and to be able to share in this with him."
Not everything will be the same for Amroski at the next level. For starters, he'll turn in the blue and gold for green and white. There's also an increase in race distance. High School cross country races typically cover 5K - roughly 3.1 miles. In college, the races are closer to 8K or five miles.
Despite the changes, Amroski's goals are in place and he's determined to not let anything stand between him and accomplishing them.
"My beginning goals are to get comfortable with running the distance and get used to the competitiveness and to be a 'placer' (top five runner) on the team," he said. "I'll go from there. I don't want to get ahead of myself. As a person, I wish to gain determination, good time management and a better desire to succeed."
Amroski also intends to never forget where he came from.
"Eisenhower has helped me in everything," said Amroski. "If I didn't love the school and the teams I have been on, I would not have enjoyed high school. The teachers, the coaches and my peers all prepared me in different ways for my next step. I owe them a lot of credit for everything I have accomplished academically and athletically. All my future success is, in part, due to what Eisenhower has done to help me prepare."