Last season, Quakertown’s Josiah Hickey was like any typical freshman runner. He had little expectations and soaked in new experiences. He also had the benefit of having an older sister, senior Rebekah, assisting him in the process.
Hickey had a solid overall season, as he finished 21st at the Suburban One meet.
This season, Hickey has been thrust into a lead role with the team, and he has relished the moment.
“I think I am progressing a lot this season,” he said. “Last season, I didn’t know what to expect, but I really started to work hard for my goals.
“However, the summer was a challenge because I worked 40 hours a week, and I ran 30 to 40 minutes a day.
“I think this season can only get better from here.”
That’s what head cross country coach Mike Mooney is seeking. The veteran coach doesn’t have any seniors on his roster. Instead, he has a mix of sophomores, juniors and freshmen.
Along with Hickey, Mooney will look to juniors Ethan DeAndrea and Dominic Pesce to help set the pace. The Panthers have three junior boys and four junior girls on their roster.
Hickey has been working to break the 18-minute mark. He ran 18.35.80 at the recent Centaur Invitational at DeSales and finished 29th.
“I feel like I am running pretty good right now,” said Hickey. “I know I can break 18, and now I’m striving to break 17.”
Mooney also will look for freshmen Alex Dakuglnow and Zach Peck, both of whom have been impressive in the early going.
On the girls side, junior Sophie Abato, who didn’t run her freshman year, should lead the pack. Fellow juniors Mona Nouri and Autumn McNutt will both be among the first to cross the line for the Panthers. Abato ran 22.21.80 at the Centaur Invitational.
Mooney is optimistic that his club can develop.
“If our boys can get it together, they can be good,” said Mooney. “I have seen progress in them as they have been lowering their times. Our freshmen have been running together, and they have been progressing.”
The Panthers had a fast start to their season, as they have had four meets over the opening weeks, three of them invitationals. Their schedule will begin to thin itself after this week, but Mooney is confident his club will be tested.
“We’ve had a busy month,” he stated. “But our kids have been running hard and staying with the pace. We should be on pace to peak at the right time down the stretch.”