Join/Renew Now

Gina Procaccio

Change is always a gamble, and occasionally it has a big payoff. Just ask Gina Procaccio. A fixture of the U.S. mile scene since her days as a Villanova student, she always seemed to be in the thick of things at the national championships but never made it to the top of the awards podium.

A change seemed to be in order. After the 1994 season, Procaccio accepted an assistant coaching job at Villanova and left the D.C. area. "I changed everything," she says. She got in touch with her high school coach, Bill Stull, and embarked on a new training routine. In her brief 1995 indoor season, she ran a 5000 in an impressive 15:40.37, a harbinger of things to come. Outdoors, she trained with Irish star Sonia O'Sullivan during the spring. When she hurt her hamstring in April and had trouble doing the speedwork necessary to race the 1500, she and Stull re-directed their efforts to the longer distance.

"I finally made up my mind last year that if I was ever going to do anything in a World Championship final, I would probably have to move up," Procaccio explains. "I didn't feel like I really had the ability to run 4-flat [for 1500]. I decided to move up just to see what would happen."

It happened just the way Procaccio wanted it in Sacramento last year, where the 5000 at the USA Championships represented the first time the event would be a qualifier for a major international meet. A star-studded field pushed the pace on a windy night, with Procaccio lurking like a shark in a wading pool. In the last turn of the race she struck, taking the win in a PR 15:26.34.

"It was my best year ever," Procaccio says of the European campaign that followed. In July, she hammered two sparkling 3000s against the world's best, losing only to Fernanda Ribeiro of Portugal and O'Sullivan, both of whom would win gold at the Worlds.

In Gothenburg, Procaccio succeeded in her first order of business, making the final. But the hot streak ended there. "I couldn't sleep in the village and I was pretty tired," she says. "I spent the whole day after the trials just laying on the couch. I wasn't 100%. By the time I got to the final, I was like, 'OK, let's just get this thing over with.' " Troubled by nausea, Procaccio stepped off the track with two laps remaining, rather than get lapped.

"Obviously I'm a little unhappy with my performance there," she says.

However, one bad race didn't wash away the lessons learned in a successful experiment. Procaccio confirms that she's sticking with the 5000 for the Olympic year. She returned to the Philadelphia area to prepare for 1996, upping her mileage and completing some intense workouts. A stress reaction near her knee cost her a few months of fall training.

A healthy Procaccio will be feared in the Olympic Trials 5000. Her change in distance is the best career move she has made since she chose her sport in the ninth grade: "I went out for field hockey and I got cut. I went out for basketball and I got cut. And then I heard that the track team didn't cut people."

Career Stats

Born July 19, 1964 in Drexel Hill, Pa

5-3/1.60m	110/50kg

Sun Valley HS (Aston, Pa) '82

Florida '85, Villanova '87


PRs (outdoor):

800--2:03.7 '90

1500--4:06.8 '90

Mile--4:24.85 '90

2000--5:43.58 '90

3000--8:45.17 '95

5000--15:26.34 '95

PRs (indoor):

1000--2:42.68 '87

1500--4:12.17 '91

Mile--4:31.73 '90

3000--8:57.31 '92

5000--15:40.37 '95

PRs (road):

5K--15:52 '94

10K--32:50 '94

Major Meets:

1983	25)USA XC

1984	6)NCAA Indoor 1000

1984	10h)NCAA 1500

1984	47)USA XC

1985	8h)NCAA Indoor 1000

1986	9)USA Indoor Mile

1986	45)NCAA XC

1987	5)NCAA Indoor 1000

1987	12)NCAA 1500

1987	10h)NCAA 1500

1988	dnf-h)USA 1500

1988	10h)Olympic Trials 1500

1989	4)USA 1500

1990	4)USA Indoor Mile 

1990	4)USA 1500

1990	4)USA XC

1991	6)USA Indoor Mile

1991	8)World Indoor 1500

1991	11)USA 1500

1991	8)USA XC

1992	2)USA Indoor 3000

1992	5)Olympic Trials 1500

1992	9)Olympic Trials 3000

1992	3)USA XC

1993	3)USA 1500

1993	4)USA 3000

1993	10h)World Championships 1500

1994	2)USA Indoor Mile

1994	11)USA 1500

1994	25)USA XC

1995	7)USA Indoor 3000

1995	1)USA 5000

1995	dnf-f)World Championships

Major Relays:

1987	1)NCAA Indoor 4 x 800 [1]

Nike Toyota Hershey Garden of Life NCSA Gatorade KT Nationwide Normatec St. Vincent UCS