Brian DiCola

School: Hatboro-Horsham

Cross Country, Track & Field



Favorite athlete:   Bob Beamon

Favorite team:   Philadelphia Eagles

Favorite memory competing in sports: Finishing at the Paul Short Meet and watching all my teammates get new personal records as they came in.

Most embarrassing/funniest thing that has happened while competing in sports: Started with a piece of corn, handed it to another runner during the race and then won.

Music on playlist:   Alternative rock (Radiohead, Arcade Fire, Stereolab) Trip Hop (Massive Attack, Portishead)

Future plans:  Go to Penn State and break 4 minutes in the mile.

Words to live by:   “Strength is speed” “Consistency is key”

One goal before turning 30:   Become a very competitive marathon runner.

One thing people don’t know about me: I’m interested in civil engineering.



Like an expert navigator, Hatboro-Horsham senior Brian DiCola plotted a course to his recent state cross-country championship.

The Penn State-bound DiCola was both familiar with the course at Hershey and his prime competition, Butler High’s Drew Griffith, the reigning state silver medalist.

Anyone who thinks cross-country is not a sport of strategy and merely just one of out-running the rest of the field is greatly mistaken.

It is as plotted and planned out as a two-minute drill in football, a pick-and-roll in basketball, a power play in hockey or a hit-and-run in baseball.

“There was a meet at the same exact course (in Hershey) earlier in the season, so I knew the course,” he said. “I knew who I had to beat, Drew Griffith, from Butler. He was my prime competition.”

For those who follow the sport in the state, this was the showdown that was expected.

“What is funny is that - because he is from Western Pennsylvania, we hadn’t raced each other all year,” said DiCola. “So, it was kind of like the Clash of the Titans when we got together in the state meet.”

The race followed the script without much of a need to call an audible, as Griffith took his expected lead while DiCola stayed close enough to make his move.

“I figured he’d take it out, which he did,” said DiCola. “My plan was to close that gap as much as I could in the second mile, and I did. There was only a one-second difference. With about 400 to go, there is a 180 turn, and I knew I had to get on the inside of the turn. I passed him with that move, and he had trouble responding, so my plan worked out perfectly.”

Crossing the finish line first, achieving his goal, was the culmination of a lot of diligence.

“It felt great,” he said. “There is no better feeling. The best part was winning, but the added bonus was that I set a new course record in the process (15:24.20).

“I was 9th last year and 16th the year before, so I really had winning the state meet in my mind.”

That much was obvious to his coach, D.J. Fromal.

“He was disappointed last year, he really was,” said the coach. “He doesn’t forget races. He knew what he wanted to improve upon. He went back and raced on the Hershey course in September. Part of the reason we did that was to give Brian another opportunity to run on that course and to make sure that he knew what his game plan was going to be.

“We talked about it the whole week leading up to states in terms of who we thought was going to be in the lead and where he wanted to be. He executed his race plan perfectly, all the way up to the stretch run and passes Drew Griffith and sprints to the finish.”

For Fromal, it was also an amazing experience to watch this unblemished season.

“He ran in nine races this year, and he won all nine of them,” he said. “I’ve been coaching for six years now, and I’ve never had an athlete go undefeated. And, obviously, he is my first state champion. He has pretty much done it all.

“While it was super-exciting for me, it was one of those things where he deserves all the credit. He put in all the work.”

The First Leg

It could be said that DiCola’s journey to a record-setting state title goes back to his first competitive running at the CYO level for St. Catherine of Siena in Horsham.

“I think that having that CYO program and competing with other kids your own age was really good,” said DiCola. “It gets the good runners running.”

It was actually during this time that Fromal first came in contact with the kid who would one day be a record-setting state champion.

“I’ve known Brian since he was in fifth grade,” he said. “He was running CYO cross-country when my son was running, so I’ve really seen him come into his own, especially the last two years.”

Did he see a future state champion back then? No. Did he rule it out? No.

“I saw someone who had the desire to do this,” he said. “He was two years younger than my son, but he would run in my son’s races because he wanted to push himself.

“I’ve seen him pushing himself for a long time.”

Weighing Pros and Cons

The next possible challenge for DiCola would be the regional meet of the best runners in the Northeastern states at Courtlandt Park in the Bronx on Nov. 26. If he places in the Top 10 there, the possibility looms of the national meet in San Diego on Dec. 10.

“I’m not sure, exactly, what I’m doing about that quite yet,” he said.

DiCola came into the state meet nursing an ongoing ankle injury and then sustained what has become a nagging Achilles tweak in the race.

That was compounded by a tough bout with a strange strain of the flu.

In addition, with pending indoor track (he is the reigning state champion in the 3K) and outdoor track seasons, where he says he runs in any event longer the 200 meters, he wants to be able to ride the high of the state title.

“Right now, I’m coming back from the sickness and the minor injury,” he said. “The pros would be, you know, there are like 40 boys in the whole country who make it to this meet. The national meet is highly prestigious. But, if I get a low placement, it’ll bring me down. It would be disappointing and maybe just not be worth it. I think I’m going to do it, but I’m not quite sure.”

Happy in Happy Valley

Beyond the National Honor Society, running year-round precludes Dicola - who maintains a GPA just above 3.9 with a few AP and all honors classes - from getting too deeply involved in extracurricular activities around school.

While his exploits drew plenty of interest from other schools, Penn State was always at the top of his list.

“I guess I considered some other schools, and talked to many other coaches, but that’s the one that ended up winning,” he said. “They have a great team, and they also have a young team. They are doing really well.”

DiCola, who plans to be a civil engineer, also likes the idea of redshirting as a freshman.

He would then compete year-round – cross-country, indoor and outdoor track – for the Nittany Lions.

“That would give me an extra year of eligibility,” he explained. “It gives me a fifth year, basically.”

Legacy Continues

DiCola wanted to thank Fromal and assistant coach Justin Ehring for the guidance and teammates Tanner Coleman and Joseph Acton for pushing him.

He comes from a running family, headed by his parents, Colleen and Art.

“I didn’t really do any other sports, except for biking with my dad,” he said. “My dad was a runner – and my mom was a runner, too – so, I didn’t really start until around fifth grade, and then I kept on getting better at running. It kind of took over, and it took over my siblings, too. We all do it now.”

He is the oldest of four siblings, and his younger sister, Lily, is a star in the making, having placed 16th in the state meet, just as her brother did.

“Yep, she did,” he said. “Except she was sick.

“She impresses me all the time.”