VERONA, NJ - Not only is Kate Ashley a dedicated runner always willing to help out a teammate, but she is also a record-setting track star who is no stranger to taking home medals. That is why she is this week's TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove Hillbilly Athlete of the Week.

"It feels great to be athlete of the week because there are several good athletes in our school," Ashley said. "It's nice to be recognized."

Ashley has been having quite the season so far. She won the State Sectional 800m and placed second in the 400m while anchoring the 4 x 100m and 4 x 400m relays, both of which placed qualifying for the State Group Championships. Most notably of all, Ashley became the State Group 1 800m champion.

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Her team as a whole has also been proving it is a force to be reckoned with, even with some injuries and bad weather throughout the season.

"The season has been going very well," Ashley said. "In the beginning everyone had many goals to achieve with their times. Almost all of the girls have reached them easily and it's good to be a part of that."

The highlight this season has been the Hillbillies' victory at the SEC meet, the Verona High School sophomore added.

"We were all really surprised," Ashley said of the win. "And it gave us a better attitude to go into championship season with."

For her team, Ashley hoped that her teammates were physically able to do their best and execute that in meets, a goal she said the girls have accomplished. As for her personally, Ashley hoped to get her time down lower for the 800m, which she managed to do this past weekend.

Ashley's many wins come as no surprise to Coach Gene Leporati, who described Ashley as a great runner and reliable teammate.

"This unpretentious sophomore is a wonderful and inspiring teammate who always radiates so much positive energy along with a smile," Leporati said.

Radiating positive energy is not hard for the track star to do considering she loves the sport and the opportunities it gives her.

"What i love about track is the camaraderie with everyone on the team and off of it," Ashley said. "A meet is always an opportunity to meet excellent athletes from other towns. Also, doing well in a race is always rewarding afterwards."