The sports teams of Verona High School have been having some amazing wins. The football team became conference champs. The girls soccer team caused an upset in their division and made it all the way to the finals, and the volleyball team is still undefeated as it goes into the state title game.
Another group that has been doing exceptionally well are the Verona girls and boys cross country teams.
The girls cross country team will be finishing off its season on Saturday at the state Groups championship meet in Holmdel Park. Last Saturday, the girls competed at the state Sectionals at Greystone Park in Morris Plains. Together, the runners came in second with two Verona girls coming in the top 10. Sophomore Jenika Ying placed third and senior Adrianna Fierro placed ninth. Besides the county Conference meet the girls competed in, this was one of the most important meets of the season because it determined if they qualified for Groups. And because of their amazing performance, the girls did. Leading these girls to victory is Coach Gene Leporati, who always has something great to say about his girls. “Coaching this cross country year has not only been a pleasure,” he says, “but I wish I could wrap up in a box all the energy, enthusiasm and fun they bring to practice each and everyday.”
The boys team also pulled through with an amazing win at Sectionals, placing third and qualifying for Groups. The boys team is a lot larger than the girls, meaning fewer varsity spots are available, forcing the boys to run their best at every meet. Coach Laura Palmerezzi is very pleased with how the team turned out this year. “I am so proud of the boys cross country team,” she says. “Since the summer they have put in the time, hard work, and miles, and it has really shown in all their accomplishments this season. Each race I love watching them improve their times, it shows that their hard work and dedication to our sport has paid off.” Seniors Mark Walsh and Jason Siegelin will be leading their team at Holmdel tomorrow, and compete in their last cross country meet.
Holmdel is notorious for its difficult course. The first 100 meters is flat surface before it turns into an uphill battle. The rest of the first two miles is almost a constant uphill with a little downhill to help the runner out. Whenever a runner hears the word “Holmdel,” the first thing to come to mind is, The Bowl. The Bowl is a section of the course that earned its title because of its shape. It starts with a nice downhill, then turns into flat surface for a short amount of time before shifting into a very difficult uphill. The entire course is filled with multiple hills that push runners to their limits. This meet is not for the light-hearted.
Qualifying for Groups is no easy feat. It took the entire season for the athletes to get to this point in their training. The boys and girls endured the good weather and the bad. Not one practice was canceled because of the heavy rain that fell on Verona, forcing the Hillbillies to run through quite a few downpours. The numerous body aches, stomach cramps, and blisters could not stop these athletes from giving their all. And give their all they did.
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Sectionals photos courtesy of Tina Ying. Used by permission. The girls Groups competition starts at 2 p.m. and the boys race at 3 p.m.