VERONA - She has set records and earned titles for herself and her team all season in track and field and is described as a caring and inspiring teammate. Now, junior Maggie Ashley is this week’s TAP into Verona/Cedar Grove’s Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.
“Being named Athlete of the Week feels great because I put a lot of time and effort into the sports I play and it has paid off,” Ashley said.
Ashley’s Winter Track and Field Coach Gene Leporati described her as an excellent person on and off the track and an integral part of the team.
“Maggie is a superb and dedicated athlete who is an absolute pleasure to coach,” Leporati noted. “But more important she is a wonderful, caring and inspiring teammate who brings an infectious determination to achieve each and every day.”
Ashley’s record has proven her importance to the team. The high school student was a key part of Verona’s third place overall team finish in a field of 16 teams at the SEC Track and Field Championships, while also being the top group 1 school in the competition. Ashley also placed in a 400m run Leporati described as very competitive and was the lead leg in the team’s 4 x 400m team relay.
A week after the SEC Championships, Ashley competed in the Essex County Relay Championships and ran a “fabulous 400m in the first leg of our medal gathering sprint medley,” Leporati added.
So far, Ashley said the season has been going great and credits the team’s success to the girls’ teamwork.
“We push each other at practices and I have seen a great improvement from the beginning of the season,” Ashley said.
With success comes challenges, and Ashley noted that this team’s challenge is the young age of the group of athletes. On a personal level, Ashley added that she struggles with a hip flexor injury.
“I have a reoccurring his flexor injury, which is definitely a huge challenge,” Ashley said. “I have been working on gaining strength and getting better at my starts, which has always been a goal of mine.”
Even with an injury, the highlight of Ashley’s season has been the 4 x 4 relay in which every athlete did a great job. That race was also the best for Ashley as an individual this season.
As for the rest of the season, the team hopes to continue their success.
“Our goals for the team are to have as many girls as possible make it to groups and Meet of Champions. Also, to go as far as we can in our 4 x 4 relay and sprint medley relay,” Ashley said. “My goals are to place high in groups and make it to Meet of Champions for the 400.”
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.