Costello running full speed ahead into PSAC Championships

Victor Costello (senior, criminology) will be competing in the PSAC Championships in the 1500- and 5000-meter runs. (Ahmad Abusaad/ The Penn)

One spring day, Victor Costello (senior, criminology) was running when he noticed some ducks waddling over to a pond as he sped by.

“I started laughing all by myself, which kind of made me laugh even harder,” Costello said. “I have a strong imagination, and it’s easy for me to laugh at things.

“I think those two prove to be a powerful combination that result in a lot of smiling and laughing.”

See, Costello loves to smile.

If you see him around campus or training for his next race, chances are he’ll have a grin on his face. Even when a training jog turns into an accidental 23-mile run.

Maybe it’s the runner’s high that he gets from competing for both the cross country team and track and field team at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Maybe it’s because he is coming off a personal-best time of 3:53.24 in the 1500-meter run at Bucknell University’s Bison Outdoor Classic in April.

Or maybe it’s something else entirely.

To be fair, Costello does have a lot to smile about.

As a sophomore in 2011 on the cross country team, Costello earned all-region honors after his 12th-place finish at the Atlantic Regional Cross Country Championships.

He has also qualified for the conference track meet in all of his seasons on the track team.

With his career as a runner for IUP quickly coming to a close, Costello recently read from his journal to realize how far he has come in his four years as a Crimson Hawk.

“Honestly, I thought about this after I came back from spring break because that’s when it hit me that my running career is almost over and so is my academia at IUP,” Costello said. “I think one day I’ll see this part of my life as the part where I took a big risk to try and become something greater than I ever was, and I tried to push myself past my limits, and I was so damn passionate about everything.”

Costello is set to compete in the 1,500- and the 5,000-meter runs at this weekend’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship meet on the campus of Shippensburg University.

Maybe Costello just smiles because he’s happy.

“That is what running at IUP brought me, what IUP in general brought to this part of my life: It brought me true happiness,” Costello said. “You know, I could die a happy guy right now, and I’m really not joking about that at all. I’m serious.”

One of the people that has been so instrumental in Costello’s time as a Crimson Hawk is Joey Zins.

Zins is the head cross country coach and serves as an assistant on the track team.

“It means so much to me that I could run here at IUP, and it’s all thanks to Coach Zins,” Costello said. “I would have never been at IUP if it wasn’t for him. I’m really going to miss that guy; he’s been there at my lowest points and my highest points.

“I’m glad he was the last coach I will be running for.”

Moving forward, Costello will be taking advantage of an offer of full graduate assistantship at Eastern Kentucky University where he will work toward a master’s degree in criminal justice. Ultimately, Costello has hopes of becoming a professor.

Running may still be in the future, according to Costello.

“Part of me wants to train really hard and run one marathon and totally destroy it because I think I have the potential with long distance races,” Costello said.

“The other part of me wants to just run to run – no competition anymore, just go out there and experience running.”

Costello is the fourth seed in the 1,500 and the 13th seed in the 5,000, both of which will be run Saturday afternoon.

Looking back on a career that has spanned some of the most important parts of his life, Costello said he is thankful for the opportunities that running for IUP has afforded him.

“It was something I could only experience for four years, and I really don’t think I took it for granted ever,” Costello said.

“The happiness, success and freedom: What more could I have asked for from anything?”

Whatever path Costello decides to run down, the future looks bright for the distance runner. Chances are he’ll be smiling, too.

“No matter what the future brings though, I’d like to thank IUP so much for what I have experienced – all the negatives and the positives,” Costello said. “It is all so beautiful and so important to my life. [It] brings tears to my eyes.”