Getting To Know USC Track And Field's Gigi Maccagnini
This week I had the pleasure of sitting down and chatting with USC freshman Cross Country runner Gigi Maccagini, joining the Trojan Family all the way from Melbourne, Australia. We talked about her adjusting to campus life, the jump from the 800m to the cross country 5K and 6K competition, her go-to order at CAVA, and so much more. Gigi has been USC's fastest runner at each of the first two meets, finishing in 12th at the Mark Covert Classic 5k (18:38.40) and placing 24th at the Riverside Invitational 6k (21:09.4). This amazing Australian is sure to tear things up here at USC so make sure to keep a close eye on her, or she'll run right past you!
Q: As a freshman at USC, how's the adjustment been to college life for you?
GM: It's been pretty smooth, actually. Not quite homesick yet, which is obviously good. I think the girls on the team have helped a lot, they just took me in and have just said you know you're here with us and we'll look over you, especially the older girls, so it's been really good.
Q: One of the big things you see typically within cross country teams is higher mileage in the summer to prepare for the fall season. I know that coming to USC you were an 800m runner so was that process at all difficult for you?
GM: It's actually kind of interesting, coach (Jebreh) Harris spoke to me and told me don't do high mileage, we're just going to take it easy because we don't want to burn ourselves out, given that we're always in season being both track and cross country athletes, so during the summer I was doing recovery runs as well as a lot of cross-training: but since we've got here, its stepped up, it's definitely stepped up.
Q: You've done well so far, both personally and as a team. Do you feel like you have any additional responsibility being one of the faster runners on the team, even as a freshman?
GM: Look, responsibility is a big word. I mean it's not pressure, but I want to do as well as possible for the team. During the last race it was all about sticking together, because I'm still relatively new to competing in cross country and so I stuck with the girls for the first two miles and then for the last 2K or 3K kind of took off and attempted to catch as many people in front of me as I could.
Q: Being that you're also an 800m runner it's got to give you that kick at the end of the race that a lot of other girls might not have?
GM: I mean maybe, but when it's 6 kilometers there's not a whole lot of speed involved, she says while laughing. It probably does, but it's honestly probably more of my competitiveness that kind of kicks in like Jesus here we go, we need to do something here...
Q: You said that your favorite food is Vegemite on toast, can you give an explanation for exactly why that's the case?
GM: If you haven't picked up by now, I'm Australian, so I've grown up with it my whole life. I know you probably don't like it and most Americans probably don't like it, but as kids everyone is just bred on Vegemite with toast, and so literally before every training session I've brought my two jars of Vegemite and so before every workout, I have my piece of bread, vegan butter (because I'm vegan) and my Vegemite so I'm ready to go.
Q: What are some goals you have, both individually and as a team?
MG: Personally, I have never set goals, but then I came to USC and spoke with coach Harris and the first thing he asked me was what are your goals (laughter). So we kind of spoke about that, and he's all about building this distance program and I'm really excited to be a part of that and build this together, where we just want to score a point at nationals for distance. I don't know if this is going to be this year or in the years to come, but I definitely want to make it to nationals, I want to score a point for us at nationals, and I want to try and get as far as I can (in terms of rounds) at the NCAA's and I want to run as fast as I can, although preferably in the 800m rather than the 1500m (for track).
Q: What's your favorite spot around campus to grab a bite to eat?
GM: Oh that's a good question. I'd have to say probably Cava. I have the app downloaded so I'm not lining up in that line, and as soon as I put it through my phone, I go walk from my dorm to the village and pick up my Falafel Bowl with Brown Rice and Supergreens mix.