Pope John cross country teams in review

| 12 Dec 2017 | 12:07

By Josh Lashley
— The dedication, talent and depth of the Pope John XXIII High School cross country program (girl’s and boy’s teams) was once again on display this fall.
The boy’s squad won the Northwest Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) American Division championship with a 4-0 meet record, placed second at the Hunterdon/Warren/Sussex (H/W/S) Meet, second at the New Jersey Catholic Track Conference Championships (NJCTC), third in the NJSIAA Non-Public A State Meet and 14th in the Meet of Champions.
The girl’s team was very successful as they finished in second place in the NJAC American Division (3-1 record), fourth in the H/W/S Meet, third in the NJCTC and fifth at the Non-Public A State Meet.
Both teams captured other significant triumphs as well.
“For both teams, it was a group of seniors who led,’’ Pope John head coach Brian Corcoran said. “As a team-oriented sport, Pope John cross country has always taken a team approach to leadership. Multiple season athletes are expected to lead by example and voice. For the girls, Olivia Acquadro (four seasons), Grace Campbell (three seasons) and Hope Pinsonault (four seasons) all lead in their own unique way. For the boys, John McGuire (four seasons), Trevor Potts (two seasons), Robert Russo (two seasons) and Jimmy Zignorski (three seasons) all brought different elements to the table.
“Pope John cross country has always been a development program. The goal is for student-athletes to improve over the course of a season and career. This season was not any different-every athlete showed great improvement from preseason to championship season. In particular, Campbell (senior) and Anna Hayden (junior) showed vast improvement from the last season and preseason as both improved by over one minute in their race times. For the boys, Zignorski went from injury at the end of junior year to one of the state's best this season as a senior. Also, Potts improved by close to two minutes in his times.’’
Through all of the qualities mentioned above, look for the Lions to continue to make great strides into the future.
“For girls, we return our top two runners, three of our top four and five of our top eight [next year]-have an opportunity to be our best team in school history,’’ Corcoran said. “Boys return six of our top ten runners with a good group of freshmen and sophomores-have great potential in the younger grades.
“Our season was aided as always by the presence of our assistant coach, Dave Wilson. Dave has been an assistant coach in area cross country for over 40 years. His experience is invaluable to the student-athletes. He is a positive influence in their lives.’’