VERONA, NJ - One Verona athlete has already proven his talent on the football field and baseball diamond. Now, he’s proving he has even more in him and is taking the track by storm. CJ Lavery is this week’s TAP into Verona/Cedar Grove’s Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.

“It is an honor to be the Athlete of the Week,” Lavery said. “This is something that I have always worked towards.”

Although this is Lavery’s first season running winter track for the Hillbillies, he is already proving his importance to the team. The Verona High School junior came in fifth place at the SEC Championship meet in the 55-meter run and seventh place in his first time running the 55-meter hurdles at the meet. Lavery also led his 4 x 200 team to a top 10 performance at the competitive Essex County Relay Championships.

Sign Up for E-News

“The season is going great,” Lavery said, also noting that making it to the finals for the 55-meter race has been the highlight of his season. “Every week I see improvements in myself and in my teammates.”

Of course Lavery’s first season has not been without challenge. The track star said one of his personal challenges has been his flexibility, but that his increased amount of stretching has been helping him get faster.

“Some of the challenges that we had as a team is handing off the baton,” Lavery added. “But every time we practice it we get better at it.”

Coach Laura Palmerezzi is excited to see Lavery excel in his first season and hopes that other athletes will follow in his footsteps and join winter and spring track, she said.

“I am beyond excited to coach CJ in winter track and watch him excel in his first season of running,” Palmerezzi said. “I am looking forward to his leadership in spring track too. He will be leading the boys track and field program for the next two years.”

Lavery will be running the 55-meter and 200-meter races in the upcoming championship meets and hopes to not only win, but make school history.

“My goal for the season is to be able to beat one of the records for the school,” Lavery said. “One of our team goals is to get better at our relays so when it is time for spring track we are all on the same page.”

Editor's Note: The "Athlete of the Week" is a weekly reoccurring feature story that highlights an individual student-athlete's success. The Verona High School Athlete of the Week is selected with the assistance of the school's athletic director and coaching staff.