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Gorelik chooses Toreros

Gillian Gorelik literally did everything you could ask from a high school distance runner this season.

First she won an individual state championship in cross country, leading her team to a Class 3A title in the fall and earning Gatorade’s prestigious Runner of the Year award.

That was to be expected from the 2008 cross-country runner-up, whose prodigious talent is well-known throughout the state. It came as more of a surprise, however, when she swept the distance events (800, 1600 and 3200 meters) at last weekend’s state track meet to head another Miners’ overall team championship.

"It’s been my best season because I’ve trained so hard for this," said Gorelik, who also collected a region title in the 400. "This year I really wanted to show that I could run track as well as I can run cross country."

A passionate junior soccer player, Gorelik got started in distance running before her freshman year, while then-boyfriend Scott Carson was training for cross country.

Carson’s dad, Bob, convinced her to enter the 4th of July 5K Mountain Fun Run, and he vowed to protect the small girl from the masses of other runners. There was one problem, though. He couldn’t stay in front of her.

"That was kind of the beginning of her running career," said mother Tina Quayle. "She tried to do that and soccer for a while, but finally coach (Jeff) Wyant just said ‘You need to choose.’ Luckily, she chose running."

Between academic awards and the athletic scholarship offer she signed last Thursday, Gorelik will get almost a full ride at Division I San Diego – where she’ll join a pair of Miners-turned-Toreros on her new team.

Park City High School graduates Luke Daenitz and Andrew Wood already compete in distance events at San Diego, and Andrew’s father Peter is a USD alumni and close friends with head coach Will Guarino.

It was on a visit to see Peter that Guarino ran with the Miners’ team last summer, and he expressed immediate interest in Gorelik.

But she had other options to entertain first. Gorelik, whose father Bob said he has never had to wake her up in the morning to go to school, is not the type to make a haphazard decision out of laziness.

She flew around the country to weed through interest and offers from Air Force, Northern Arizona, UCLA, Lehigh, Northwestern and Colorado, among others.

"She seemed to be looking for something specific," Wyant said. "She visited several schools and she just didn’t seem to find what she was looking for."

Lehigh was her pick up until early May, when San Diego finally reeled her in with a more lucrative scholarship package.

"We were really methodical," Quayle said. "But the cards just started falling and San Diego ended up being the best choice."

Gorelik said she’s looking forward to the transition to sea level, where her conditioning at 7,000 feet should pay immediate dividends to her times. She expects to lose about eight seconds from her mile time and 20 seconds over two miles.

Wyant said her abilities and her drive could make his star pupil "one of the best runners San Diego has ever had." She’s certainly attained that honor in Park City.


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