To this day, Angel Piccirillo doesn't know exactly what sidelined her, but something did, and she missed her freshman cross country season at Villanova University.
Over the summer, Piccirillo hurt her foot and couldn't run for more than a month, forcing her to redshirt her freshman season.
"Around the end of July, I hurt my foot when I was running at home," Piccirillo said. "I did something to my foot. I'm still not sure what happened, even now. I wasn't able to run all of August, and by the beginning of September, I started running again. But I only really started training and getting back from that a few weeks ago. I did end up redshirting in cross country. But I am training and healthy now."
Piccirillo had an MRI after the injury, and got several opinions on the nature of her injury.
The medical experts couldn't agree on what the injury was, but Piccirillo rested it and slowly got back into training.
"I heard that maybe it's a sprain, maybe it's a bone bruise, maybe it's plantar fasciitis," Piccirillo said. "Nobody completely agreed. But treatments were helping and I was seeing a masseuse here, and that helped a lot. I think it was a combination of resting it, treatments and the masseuse that helped me come back."
When she realized she would have to redshirt her freshman season, Piccirillo was expecting a miserable fall.
"At first, I thought it was going to stink," she said. "But it wasn't like that. I did the workouts with them, the weight room, everything. It wasn't as bad as I thought. I didn't travel with the team, but I did everything else. And there was another freshman who redshirted and a third girl who wasn't running by the end of the season so the three of us kind of had each other. It wasn't as bad as I expected it to be."
Piccirillo was a 10-time state champion in cross country and track and field while at Homer-Center High School.
She won two PIAA Class AA cross country state titles; three titles in the outdoor 1,600-meter run in track and field; three titles in the indoor 1,600; and one each in the indoor 3,000 and the outdoor 800 her senior season.
Piccirillo will officially begin her collegiate career this weekend, when the Villanova indoor track and field team travels to Haverford for the Jack Pyrah Invitational.
Piccirillo expects to run the 1,000 and possibly the 1,600 relay to test her foot.
"It's a really low-key indoor meet this weekend with only three or four other schools," she said.
"It's my first time racing since high school so it's a little nerve-wracking. But I'm excited to be healthy and competing. The hardest part of sitting out was missing the races."
ALISON SIMMONS (Bates College, crew): An Indiana graduate, Simmons is a freshman rower at this Division III school in Lewiston, Maine.
The Bates women's crew team is the No. 2-ranked team in NCAA Division III.
Simmons didn't take long to establish herself. Early in her freshman season, she earned the bow seat in Bates' first-varsity eight boat team, and competed in the prestigious Head of the Charles regatta, billed as the world's largest two-day rowing event, which features more than 9,000 rowers from around the world.
Simmons, who trained during the summer with the East End Rowing Club in New York and with former Dutch Olympic rower Co Rentmeester, helped Bates to some impressive finishes this fall.
The Bobcats first-varsity eight team took third place out of 46 boats from 16 schools at the Quinsigamond Snake Regatta on Oct. 13.
At the Head of the Charles in Boston on Oct. 21, Simmons and Bates' first-varsity eight team took sixth place of 26 boats from 24 schools.
Simmons also set the Bates freshman course record in the single scull, an event in which a single rower races alone and has two sculling oars instead of one like in the multiple-seat events.
Simmons covered the 5.5-kilometer course in 25 minutes, 2.4 seconds to set the record on Sept. 22.
BREANNA KOCHINSKY (St. Francis, volleyball): A junior outside hitter, Kochinsky was among the team's leading offensive players as the Red Flash (14-16) clinched their first Northeast Conference playoff berth since 2008.
A Northern Cambria graduate, Kochinsky played in all 30 matches for the Red Flash and ranked seventh on the team with 102 kills. She also ranked eighth in kills per set (0.91) among St. Francis players with 100 or more kill attempts.
Kochinsky was also one of the Red Flash's best defensive players. She led the team in digs (276) and digs per set (2.46).
As a sophomore in 2011, her first season at St. Francis after transferring from Clarion, Kochinsky recorded career highs of 307 digs and 215 kills.
CRYSTAL MILLER (Clarion, women's soccer): An Indiana High graduate, Miller completed her senior season this fall.
A midfielder, Miller started in all 17 games for the Golden Eagles (2-10-5) and recorded an assist for her only point of the season.
Miller ended her career having appeared in 67 games, including 60 starts, and she started all 34 games her last two seasons.
She finished her career with one goal, three assists for five points.
Miller, also a PSAC Scholar Athlete, holds the distinction of being one of only four players in Clarion program history to score on a penalty kick.
MEGAN LEWANDOWSKI (Washington & Jefferson, volleyball): A junior middle hitter from Indiana, Lewandowski appeared in 12 matches this season for the Presidents (10-16). A backup, Lewandowski totaled 18 kills, averaging 0.95 kills per set.
Despite her limited playing time, the 5-foot-10 Lewandowski ranked third on the team in blocks per set (0.47).
IUP VOLLEYBALL: A trio of Indiana High graduates were on the Crimson Hawks roster this season.
-- Sarah Alman is a senior setter who appeared in all 35 matches and missed only two of a possible 123 sets for IUP (20-15).
The team's top setter, Alman finished with 1,035 assists and averaged 8.55 per set, far and away leading the team in both. She was second on the team with 30 service aces and connected on 90.2 percent of her service attempts. Alman was also second on the team in digs (352) and digs per set (2.91).
-- Aubree Frye is a junior right hitter. She transferred to IUP after spending her first two seasons at Clarion.
Frye appeared in all 35 matches, playing in 115 of a possible 123 sets. She finished third on the team with 318 digs and sixth with 76 kills. She also totaled 28 service aces to finish third on the team, and her serve percentage of 91.0 ranked fourth on the team among players with 100 or more service attempts.
-- Amanda Palmer, a senior backup libero, appeared in 17 matches.
ST. VINCENT VOLLEYBALL: Ariel Rocco, a Northern Cambria graduate, is a junior outside hitter for the Bearcats. One of the team's top hitters, Rocco appeared in 24 of 27 matches for Saint Vincent (11-16), playing in 77 of a possible 91 sets.
She finished fourth on the team in kills (114), fifth in kills per set (1.48) and eighth in attack percentage (.173). Defensively, Rocco ranked third on the team in blocks (33) and blocks per set (0.43) and eighth in digs (56).
-- Indiana graduate Allie Liboski is a freshman middle hitter, having appeared in 11 of 27 matches. She totaled 35 kills and logged 1.17 kills per set, finishing the season with a .259 attack percentage, the highest on the team among players with at least 100 kill attempts.
SAINT FRANCIS FOOTBALL: Erik Welteroth, a Harmony High graduate who played high school football at Cambria Heights, is a sophomore tight end for the Red Flash (5-6). He appeared in seven games but didn't have any stats.
-- Joey Vodopivec, a key member of Penns Manor's run to the PIAA semifinals in 2011, is a freshman defensive back for the Red Flash. He didn't see any action this season.
-- Jake Nulph, an Apollo-Ridge graduate, concluded his third season as a member of the Red Flash coaching staff. He serves as the co-defensive coordinator, linebackers coach and recruiting coordinator.
Nulph is a 2005 graduate of Robert Morris University and played three seasons for the Colonials.
WESTMINSTER FOOTBALL: John Jones, a Ligonier Valley graduate, is a sophomore tight end. He saw action in three games but didn't record any stats.
-- Ian Weaver, a Punxsutawney graduate, is a freshman linebacker. He appeared in two games and recorded one solo tackle.
-- Nolan Stokes, an Indiana graduate, is a freshman offensive lineman. He didn't see any action this season.
-- Sean Gibbon, an Indiana graduate, is a freshman linebacker. He didn't see any action this season.