Even before he started running cross country, Acasio Pinheiro ’19 enjoyed running with his friends.
“When I was younger, I liked to run with my friends in small road races, but I later wanted harder competition,” Pinheiro said.
In the fifth grade, he started to take running more seriously and worked hard to improve his skills. Pinheiro loved his team from fifth to ninth grade, but after his first year at Wilberforce School, he felt that the cross country team at the school was lacking something.
“I came to PHS when I realized that my old school was lacking a strong athletic experience and I also wanted more of a strong team environment,” Pinheiro said.Pinheiro worked hard with his new teammates and coaches to become stronger and to get faster every practice. Head Coach James Smirk has personally seen Pinheiro grow and accomplish his goals each day.
“Acasio’s growth this season was focused around being a good teammate. He tries to race everyone and push his teammates to another level,” Smirk said.
Acasio and the rest of the cross country team worked hard and eventually won the Meet of Champions, competing against 21 of New Jersey’s best teams. During the race, Acasio had a rough start, but he pushed himself and managed to finish the race 24th overall.
“Most kids, when they have a rough start, would just give up and stop trying, but Acasio pushed forward and made his own luck,” Smirk said.
Something that set Pinheiro back during the season was a hamstring injury which made him take some time off.
“I had to overcome it, and it was upsetting that I had to take time off and work at my injury,” Pinheiro said.
This injury was a minor setback because when he returned to the team, he and his teammates won the State Championship for the first time since 1986, with Pinheiro coming in 10th place overall.