A Conversation with Cross Country Champion, Jack Napoli

Years of hard work pay off in an extraordinary victory at the GMCs


As fall sports come to an end and we reflect on the accomplishments of our high school teams, we would like to focus on one individual who reached some impressive milestones and put in hard work all season. This individual is Jack Napoli, a cross country runner at Piscataway High School. We have asked him a series of questions which recap how his season has gone, and he was kind enough to give us answers.

First, we asked, how would you say your season went this year?

“I had a very successful season this year, taking my training and racing to the next level. I became the first county champ in the last 10 years from Piscataway and am one of only 5 Piscataway boys to ever win Cross Country GMCs. I also placed top 30 at states and top 100 at nationals. Overall, I felt the season was a perfect test of how I’ve developed over the last few years and a chance to show coaches and other athletes how hard I’ve worked.”

What did you feel were the highs and lows of your season?

“The high was definitely county champs and defeating a state champ at Sectionals. Both were great experiences that gave me confidence that I could compete with the best.

The low was my only major setback to training. About 10 days before county champs I had 200 pounds dropped on my foot in the Anthony weight room. Kids weren’t paying attention and the weights came off the rack the wrong way. Luckily I was the only one who got hurt and my foot wasn’t severely broken. I dealt with a bone bruise and took a few days off, but after slowly getting back to running over the last 3 days before counties, I decided to just go for it and see what I could do. It was scary, as it could have cost me my season, and I wonder how different the season would have been without the injury, but it gave me a chance to learn from it and be thankful for where I was in my training.

Another low was my competition at the state meet. I felt I could’ve done a lot better than my top 30 finish, but it just wasn’t my day. It gave me a chance to go back to basics though, and I focused on nationals and managed to become one of the top 100 runners in the country.”

What was the main preparation that went into having a season like this?

“Miles on miles. Lots of kids say they’ve seen me out running, it’s because I do it all the time. I’m running about 70 miles a week, and lifting 3 days a week. I double (morning + afternoon runs) Monday – Friday and I’m up at about 4:45AM to run and get to the gym.

I had a really successful summer of training, and that surely set me up well for a good season, but the years I have spent training were what really helped the most. I’ve been running since 3rd grade. The hours of training can’t be replaced by talent or luck.”

What’s an inspiration you have or something that motivates you to run?

“I started running for a charity organization called Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy early on in life. My cousin Danny had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Unfortunately, he passed away before the start of my senior year. However, this motivated me to keep working through high school and trust my mental strength to keep improving.

I also love what I do, I love the training and I love the racing. It’s a part of my daily routine now. I almost feel worse if I don’t run.”

What are you looking forward to during the winter and spring track seasons?

“School records, county championships, state’s, nationals, and signing to college. I’m excited for the next 6 months and I know I’ve got a lot of work to do, but big things are coming!”

Editor’s note: Check out a recent video interview that Jack did with MileSplitNJ right after winning GMCs!