VERONA, NJ - The senior members of the Verona High School girls track & field team missed out on their last season, but that doesn't erase the good times and the memoires they made as a team.  We are happy to share their memories along with their head coach Gene Leporati.

Jenna DaRin 
Coach Leporati: Jenna is a lively and most entertaining teammate who had the ability to make a dim situation brighter while bringing a smile to practice.

Jenna was a four-year track & field athlete, competing in both shot-put & discus while playing an integral part in our team dynamics.  I will not forget her hilarious personality she would bring to the fitness room. DaRin will attend Johnson & Wales University.

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Kiera Egan
Coach Leporati:  Kiera is a caring and valuable teammate who would always extend her friendship and understanding to a teammate when some encouragement and a small embrace was needed. Kiera competed in discus and javelin throughout her four-year track career and made great strides resulting from her hard work & fortitude. She is a team member who possesses those attributes we associate with the best of our young people. I will remember the day she had her personal best performances at one of our home meets.  Egan will attend Bucknell University.

Egan:  My favorite spring track memory was when I threw for the first time. I had no idea what I was doing but it was fun to learn with other people and amazing to find something that I love.

I’m going to miss my teammates and my coaches the most. They’ve been such an important part of my spring track experience and I am so glad I got to spend the last 4 years with them.

Carolyn Feeley
Coach Leporati:  Carolyn is an incredible team mentor, that many younger athletes will long remember. Her patience and guidance in helping our younger hurdlers was so beneficial and rewarding for our program,an effort that will resonant years from now.  Carolyn anchored numerous medal winning hurdle relay teams in both the high hurdles and 400m hurdlers in her four year track career. She was a strong member of three conference championship teams.  I will remember her incredible high hurdle races at the 2018 SEC Championships, resulting in her being named Second Team All-SEC High Hurdles. Team Captain.  Feeley will attend Holy Cross University.

Feeley:  It’s hard to pick a single favorite memory, but one of my favorites is the first varsity race that I medaled in. This was motivation for me to continue working towards improving my individual times and the team’s standing at meets. 

I’ll mostly miss the camaraderie that comes along with being a member of such a friendly and spirited team. Whether it was at a meet or just at practice, my teammates and coach were always there to encourage me and provide support.

Chelsea Gruskin
Coach Leporati: Chelsea is a wonderful,talented and most versatile athlete that contributed greatly to our program during the past four years. Chelsea competed in the 100m,200m,400m, high hurdles, 400m hurdles & long-jump in her track career while becoming the second best long jumper in the history of Verona Girls Track & Field. She was selected First Team All-SEC Long-Jump and 4 x 400m while being an important part of our three conference championships. I will remember the incredible joy on her face when the long-jump official announced Chelsea’s amazing first place jump of 17’2.5” at the SEC Championships. Gruskin will attend Rutgers University.

Rebecca Katsios
Coach Leporati:  Rebecca is a most dedicated and resourceful young lady that truly became an advocate for our pole-vault event while radiating so much enthusiasm,encouragement and assistance to any new athletes willing to undertake this most technical event.  Rebecca’s hard work,determination and commitment resulted in her becoming one of the best pole-vaulters in Essex County.  I will remember when she soared over the bar for her personal best of 8’6” at the Comet Relays,some said it was her “10” day. Team Captain. Katsios will attend Montclair State University.

Katsios:  My favorite spring track memory was clearing 8 feet, my personal best, at the very last meet of my junior year season after working towards that height for awhile. It felt so good to finally make that bar, and Coach Lep’s excited reaction put a huge smile on my face. 

I’ll miss absolutely everything about spring track. What I’ll miss most though are the people I was lucky enough to call my teammates. Pole vault at VHS is comprised of a pretty small group of athletes, and we all grew to be great friends through practicing and competing alongside one another. I’ll miss our fun and supportive community greatly.

Alessandra Newman
Coach Leporati: Alex is a charming and inspirational young lady who brings out the best in people she meets with her warm and genuine demeanor. Alex ran distance races,but became a much needed and diligent team manager at our meets.  I will remember a meet in the cold rain when many were under cover,but Alex never relented while collecting all the stats for each of her teammates in very inclement weather. Newman will attend the University of Michigan.

Gillian O’Donnell 
Coach Leporati: Gillian is an unpretentious and quiet young lady who is an extremely focused competitor,  whose heart and soul touched those around her. 

Gillian threw both the javelin and discus at a championship level for the past two years. She was named First Team All-SEC Javelin in 2019, while becoming a valuable member of our three conference championships. I will remember her jubilation and smile after her throw of 104’2” placing her fourth all-time in javelin for Verona Girls Track & Field Program. Team Captain. O’Donnell will attend Montclair State University.

Erin Petrino 
Coach Leporati:  Erin is a very determined,cerebral and resourceful young lady who began pole-vaulting much like most endeavors she undertakes,with great passion and purpose along with an added a touch of gutsiness.Her ability to develop strategies to achieve at a high level is amazing. Erin’s incredible training and desire to perform made her one of the best pole-vaulters in Essex County the past two years. Her performances were part of our three consecutive conference championships. First Team SEC Pole-Vault in 2018 and 2019 along with Second Team All-Essex County Pole-Vault in 2019.  I will remember her 9’9” vault that placed her fourth all-time among Verona Girls Track & Field Pole-Vaulters. Team Captain. Petrino will attend Princeton University.

Petrino:  Favorite spring sport memory: My favorite memory was setting a new PR in pole vault to win the 2019 state sectional meet. I also loved when the girls team came from behind to win the Conference Championships in 2019.

What I’ll miss the most: I’m really going to miss all of my incredibly supportive teammates, especially my fellow pole vaulters. I’ll miss laughing with them and cheering everyone on.

Gabriella Petti
Coach Leporati:  Gigi is a hard working and helpful teammate who always puts a positive spin when things may seem overwhelming. She was selected Second Team SEC Discus along with being a big contributor in our conference championship teams. I admire her teaching and working with our younger athletes to learn the difficult technique to spin in the discus circle. I will remember her fabulous performance in our last event of the 2019 SEC meet that helped to secure our championship. Team Captain. Petti will attend Scranton University.

Petti:  There are simply too many good memories to just name one.  Of course, every time I ended up with a new personal record or a medal was amazing, but really just spending time with my friends and having fun was the best of it all.

The Saturday morning practices, or those that went well into the evening, or long weekends and weeknights at meets, which we groaned about but ended up being the best times, since they were well-spent with some of the best teammates I have ever had, and people who I am glad and grateful to call my friends.

Francesca Valle 
Coach Leporati: Fran is an upbeat and inspirational young lady who brings so much energy and excitement each and everyday, thus making for the necessary ingredients for so many fun practices. She was a superb 100m, 200m sprinter and long jumper, who brought so much passion and tenacity to her training regimen. I will remember her incredible personal best in the 100m at  2018  State Sectionals in Clifton,along with the “shout out “from the announcing booth when she was at long-jump in the 2017 state sectional meet.  Valle will attend Charleston University.

Olivia Vogel
Coach Leporati:  Olivia is a leader that led by example with her fortitude and conviction each and everyday at practice while demonstrating the importance of “team.”  Olivia’s commitment to train relentlessly in her 400m & 800m workouts were truly infectious to those around her, thus elevating level of practice.  A valuable member of our three conference championship teams and a big factor in so many of our medal winning relays throughout the years.  I will remember her as a young athlete who thought her season would end before our state meets,however that proved to be false because Olivia became part of our state sectional 4x400m relay that qualified for the State Group Championships. Team Captain. Vogel will attend the University of Vermont.

Vogel:My favorite memory of spring track is most definitely being a part of relays. I loved working with my teammates to place in meets while also pushing myself to be better. 

I’m going to miss my teammates and coaches more than anything. I could not ask for a better group of people to have as a support system and spend long spring days with. From early bus rides to sweltering hot days, I will always remember the good laughs and memories we made.

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