Hills Cross Country Running to a Championship


With an ambition to rise above as County Champs, the Hills cross-country team is relentlessly bolting past their competition with a thirst to win like no other.

This year, the cross-country team broke a school record for having the most participants with sixty-two people on the team. Before each race, Coach Buccino has emphasized that the team’s goal is to win the county matches and keep improving. Each person has been tremendously improving their times with each race despite the team racing without one of the best in the county, Jekabs Hayes, due to an injury.

The captains of the team are Jekabs Hayes, William Colgan, Daniel Mahncke, Kyle Noonan, Natalia Torres, and Annie Colgan. Mr. Buccino and Mrs. Rossig coach the sixty-two-person squad this year. Pascack Hills graduate Taylor Trumbetti and Pascack Valley math teacher Ms. Biz Eganare are also volunteering their time to help the squad. Freshmen Justin Nunez and Dennis Priestner have been excelling in freshmen boy races, while Hannah Figueroa and Emily Prendergast are leading the freshmen girls team. Keith Petrellese, Anthony Michielini, and Nick Curcio are all sophomores running on the varsity due to their excellent skills. In addition, the majority of the girl’s JV and Varsity team consists of sophomore girls like Natalie Gadaleta and Nina Rubenstein. Coach Buccino is optimistic about the future years because the school has a strong young girls team.

Although each coach has made it clear that it would be ideal to become County Champs, there are other goals in mind for the season. For instance, Charlie wants the team to become closer and bond more because he knows a friendlier team performs better. On the other hand, Coach Buccino also wants every person to keep improving and achieving a personal best. Luckily, the team continues to improve individually, so the Coach is pleased. Jekabs, being known as an optimistic runner, has large goals in mind. He wants his fellow six varsity members to go together to the State Groups. Hayes also adds, “We have a good shot at the League Championship, and we have a more than good shot at being County Champs, but we have put in the work. I don’t see why we can’t do it.”

DiPiazza additionally believes that our team is the best in school history. He is confident that we can use this talent and strength to win the County Championship on October 25. At that point, Jekabs will be back from his injury and continue to inspire the team with fast goals and words of wisdom. “All we have to do is trust ourselves and race our hearts out,” he says.

While the path to victory may be formidable and challenging, the team looks forward to their County Championship Meet and will be running with Coach Buccino’s mantra: “Embrace the challenge, but enjoy the journey!”