Winter Track Preview: A Season To Remember


Winter track coaches and captains

It takes a certain type of dedication to be willing to go outside in below-freezing temperatures and run laps around a frozen, occasionally snow-coated track. The average person would rather curl up in a flannel blanket and watch Netflix all day instead of bearing the snow, ice, wind, and rain outside of his or her cozy bedroom. However, the select group of athletes willing to stand the cold and run their heart outs are members of Pascack Hill’s Winter Track Team.

With a whopping 58 athletes, this team is not only bigger than it has been in the past, but better too. According to Head Coach Ross Koehler, “We had a 200% increase from last year. It’s just a strong team overall, so I’d like to get more kids to state groups, more kids to regionals, and definitely get some national qualifiers.” With that being said, Koehler also mentions that his main goals for the team are to lead the athlete to breaking more school records. He says, “We broke nineteen records last year, and most of those record breakers are returning this year.” Some outstanding runners looking to break school records are Ayo O’huru in sprints, Jackie Oteri and Sere Tonuzi in hurdles, Captain Jekabs Hayes, senior William Colgan, and sophomores Anthony Michileini and Keith Petrellese in distance, alongside teammates Daniel Mahncke and Charlie DiPiazza, who are hoping to break mid-distance relay records.

Not only is the larger team something new for Winter Track, but the assistant coach is new as well. Brian Desmond is a fresh face to the distance squad at Hills, and is ready to lead his team to victory. Not only does Desmond have his doctorate in physical therapy from Richard Stockton, he and Koehler have known each other for years. According to Desmond, “Coach Koehler and I met back in kindergarten. We’ve known each other throughout school and sports.” Both friends are thrilled to unite as coaches and teach the track team all of their knowledge of running, strength training, and improving flexibility.

“It’s really just about being healthy and prepped, and ready for the outdoor season, which is really where track and field shines,” says Coach Koehler about the ultimate goal for the season. With captains Jekabs Hayes, Jackie Oteri, John Patalano, Sere Tonuzi, and Natalia Torres, alongside coaches Ross Koehler, Brian Desmond, and Danielle Wankmuller, this team will certainly shine and ultimately be ready to face competition in the spring.