Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Reporting with Hills Pride

The Trailblazer

Winter Track Wrap-Up & The Start Of The Spring Season

With spring and warm weather just around the corner, it’s time to look back on this seemingly everlasting winter and recognize the accomplishments of The Pascack Hills Winter Track Team.

This intense and challenging season came to an end with a grand total of 13 school records shattered by this dedicated team, with help from Head Coach Ross Koehler, and assistant coaches, Brian Desmond and Danielle Wankmuller.

Individual records include the following: Junior Ayo O’Uhuru in the 55m (twice broken) and 300m, Senior Jekabs Hayes in the 1000m, and Senior Daniel Mahncke in the 300m.

Relay teams rewrote Hills history, as well. Boy relay teams crushed the distance medley relay, the 4x1600m (twice broken), and the 4x800m records. Meanwhile, the girls distance team shattered two 14-year-old records in the 4x800m (twice broken) and 4x1600m.

In field events, John Patalano bounded his way to a new long jump record of 20’1”. Hayes and Mahncke both received Third Team All County recognition, and O’Uhuru was awarded First Team All County recognition.

When asked about his opinion on the sizzling season, Coach Koehler said, “This year, we had quite the exciting season. It was the first time in my coaching career that I have ever brought a boy and a girl [Hayes and O’Uhuru] to the State Meet of Champs (SMOC), as well as to have a State Medalist [O’Uhuru].”

Sending two athletes to SMOC (February 18), down in “The Bubble” at Toms River, is a huge accomplishment for not only for Coach Koehler and the athletes themselves, but for the entire team, as well. It is extremely difficult to be recognized in the state for any event, let alone the 1600m and 55m, both of which are very popular events for both boys and girls. O’Uhuru especially loved her experiences in SMOC, saying, “When we walked into the Bubble, the mood was set. Running [the 55m] was an incredible experience.” O’Uhuru medaled with a 7th-place finish. Captain, Senior, and 15th best mile runner in the state, Jekabs Hayes, described the indoor season as “sad, but enjoyable.” He “loved how the team was filled with very dedicated athletes.” Additionally, Hayes adored his experiences at SMOC, saying it was “hectic and awesome. It was one of the coolest track meets of my life… I was very happy to be there. I normally tell people to imagine a normal meet at the bubble and multiply the amount of spectators times eight, and then fill the infield and track with the best state runners. You just couldn’t avoid the exciting atmosphere wherever you went.”

The spring track season is looking exciting and fresh for PHHS, as well. This year, Mr. O’Neill will be joining the Hills track coaching staff. Mr. O’Neill has been working in our district for four years as a Chinese teacher for all different levels offered at Hills, and he also ran distance events in high school and in college. In his high school years, Mr. O’Neill was an eight-time State Champion in Wisconsin! He “ran the 800m, 1600m, and 3200m in track, as well as Cross Country in the fall.” Mr. O’Neill’s goals for this season are, “to learn more about all of the events, because I focused mainly on distance back then. I also want to have a lot of fun and meet all the athletes!” Mr. O’Neill’s positive mindset and experience as a completive athlete will definitely add a new element to the team’s energy.

All athletes and coaches are extremely excited for the beginning of spring track, and are content with the positive results from this winter’s season. Koehler looks forward to “enjoying all-day Saturday meets with the team,” and O’Uhuru aims “to go to the Spring State Meet of Champs in June and become the County Champ in the 100m.” Hayes summed up the season’s goals wonderfully by adding, “I hope to have a unified team, have kids to come out and commit to the team, get relay teams to State Groups, and to personally have a strong last season at PHHS.”

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