Spotlight Stars of the Week: Ammar Moussa and Anthony Coleman

 Each week Milesplit will highlight several athletes from across the country who demonstate outstanding performances in track and field.  Ammar Moussa (Arcadia, CA) and Anthony Coleman (Alief Elsik, TX) are just 2 of the six in the spotlight this week.  Photo of Ammar Moussa by Mike Scott


Ammar Moussa - Senior @ Arcadia HS (Arcadia, CA)


(Photo by Mike Scott-

Ammar Moussa called his 66th place finish in last year’s World Cross Country Championships in Poland “horrible” and said, “he wasn’t happy at all."A year later, the Arcadia senior had a different experience at World Cross this time in Punta Umbria, Spain. Moussa finished the 8K in 32nd place with a personal best 24:21. 



“This experience was really different.  I’d never been to Spain. As a team we were much closer. We had a really good camaraderie going.”


That brotherhood and bonding led the Team USA junior men to an eighth place finish with 153 points.  Moussa’s 32nd place finish was the second best on the team behind Craig Lutz of Texas who finished in 29th, 19 seconds faster than Moussa, in a time of 24:02. He says he picked up some tricks of the trade on the trip as well.


“I learned a lot from Max (Straneva), Erik (Olson), and Ryan (Poland) on running the 8K, how it’s like to run a championship style race. They just told me to stay calm, not too go out too hard just the usuals but it helped because they knew their stuff. I just tried to learn as much as possible and I feed off their confidence.”

Moussa came into World cross off of two monster weeks.  First, at the prestigious Brooks PR Invitational in Seattle he set a new PR in the two mile with a time of 9:00.62 and then running against a collegiate field at the Ben Brown Invitational he ran a personal best in the 5k in 14:13.82. Not a bad tune up for one of the biggest races in his career. 


“It just helped so much. I felt in such good shape. I felt really strong and ready. There was no doubt I was going to run well in Spain.”


The Arcadia senior who had only ran in three previous 8k’s felt like this was his only good one of his career. Moussa who did several  4x1k workouts  a couple days before the race to give himself a mental edge, described the course as, “a true cross country course that really tested an individual.”


“The course was a 2k loop all on grass. There were three sets of three logs at 700, 1200, and 1800 meters. There was a little five foot hill at 800 meters and two longer gradual hills in the second 2k. It was the best course I’ve ever been on. I loved it.”


Running for Team USA and dawning the red white and blue renewed a sense of national pride in Moussa, something he admits to never being really big on. When in Spain he felt the weight of America on his shoulders both literally and figuratively.


“Well, I said it last year too. I’ve never been a super patriotic guy. I mean I’m happy I’m American and all but I’m not huge on that kind of thing but once I put on the USA uniform you feel honored. I felt like the entire weight of the country was on me because I was representing EVERYONE so I was driven to run that much faster and to be given that responsibility is super humbling.”


Moussa says his physical strength and refusal to give up are what set him apart from others, his weakness, never being satisfied and now with cross country season in the books he is coming back to the track with a vengeance.


“I feel ready to rip some fast times on the track and this kind of momentum I’m going to be riding it ALL season long. I want to run fast and have no regrets as I finish up my senior year.”




Anthony Coleman - Senior @ Alief Elsik HS (Houston, TX)


Anthony Coleman  prepares for a race like no other. While others are relaxing, Coleman is on the track for an hour and a half before his event all by himself. He goes through his stretching routine, does plyos, and gets in the zone. The preparation paid off in his 800 meter win at the Texas Southern Relays, but didn’t come easily running against some of the best the Lonestar State has to offer. The senior at Alief Elsik High School ran a nation leading 1:51.91 to get the win. The next two kids posted the second and third fastest times in the country respectively. Coleman’s coach Paul Delesbore says he was looking forward to the competition.


“I will tell you one thing about him he was excited to run in this meet because it had some of the top kids in the state and Anthony is the kind of kid who is always looking for a challenge and will rise above them.”


Rise above the competition is exactly what the University of Houston signee did.  After running as planned for a majority of the race he was challenged by another future Cougar Yonas Tesfai of Houston Westbury. Coach Desabore says it was his kick at the end that put the others in the dust.


“Anthony ran his typical race. Normally, he runs a 56-58 split on the first lap and then his second lap he negative splits. The kids really put a push on him after the first 400 and with about 250 left the tried to make a push and the Westbury kid took the lead for about ten meters and Anthony opened his stride up at the 200 meter mark. It turned out to a flat out sprint and he broke the other two kids. They didn’t have an answer for that.”


Two years ago Anthony Coleman was clocking times in the 2:00 range. Having improved his marks by close to double digits Coach Desabore attributes Coleman’s success to the strength he has added with their workout program that focuses on upper body and core strength. He says the senior is, “one of the hardest working athletes he’s coached in twenty years.” Desabore, who has nicknamed him “hobbit,” thinks Coleman’s versatility is what makes him the most valuable.


“He can turn around and run the two mile but yet he has the speed to run the 200 meter dash. He runs the 800, he runs the two mile in around 9:40, and then he anchors our 4x4 relay and has a 48 second split on that just to give you an idea of the versatility he has.”


A weekly workout for Coleman consists of a four mile run on Monday, a sprint workout on Tuesday, and Wednesday is a workout with the quarter-milers. Coleman will run for the University of Houston after his senior season and the Cougars are looking at him to run the 800, 1500, and on their nationally ranked DMR. Coach Desabore calls Coleman a “workhorse” and says it’s the balance of training that has got him where he is at.


“I think he can get 1:50.50 at districts and we’re going that on that some by doing sprint and distance work and working on strides. By the time we get to regionals and states I think he can get to 1:48-1:49. The one thing about Anthony is he has the desire to be the best I wouldn’t be surprised if he was in the Olympics one day. He has the desire to be that good.”