QP’s Negroni heads to state sectionals on high note



By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

Natalie Negroni has established herself as one of the most diversified track and field athletes in the area.

The Queen of Peace junior competes in four events – the high jump, the 200-meter dash, the 100-meter hurdles and the 400-meter hurdles.

Two weeks ago, at the Bergen County Division D championships, Negroni won the 400-meter hurdles, finished second in the 100-meter hurdles, placed third in the high jump and seventh in the 200-meter dash.

A week later, Negroni was sixth at the Bergen County Meet of Champions in the 400-meter hurdles and 12th in the 100-meter hurdles.

“I’ve been trying to focus more on the high jump,” said Negroni, a resident of Kearny. “I think I’m getting there with the 200. I love track more than anything. I’ve played soccer since I was a little girl, but once I did track, I fell in love with it.”

Queen of Peace head track and field coach Ron Mazzolla has been around the block a few times, having spent nearly 20 years as the coach at North Arlington.

Mazzolla cannot stop singing the praises of Negroni.

“She really is a pleasure to work with,” Mazzolla said. “I made her a captain this year and she’s really embraced this leadership role. I might be late getting to the school, but all I have to do is call her to get things set up. She’s out there setting up the hurdles. She gets everyone together so when I get there, everyone’s ready to go. She’s just a pleasure to coach and be with.”

Mazzolla believes that Negroni is just scratching the surface of her ability.

“The key to her success, other than staying healthy, is to work a little more with her upper body,” Mazzolla said. “She needs to get just a little physically stronger. We’re working on her technique and her times, but I really think next year, she’s going to be at the top of her game. I think she has the potential to be either No.1 or No. 2 in Bergen County in both (hurdles) events.”

Negroni said that she matured greatly between her sophomore and junior years.

“I take it real seri ously,” Negroni said. “I wanted to be a captain this year. I love the sport and I like having an organized team.”

So there’s no problem rounding up the rest of her teammates for practice?

“I’m just an organized person,” Negroni said. “Ever since I was younger, I was organized. I color organized everything. It’s just the way I am.”

Negroni knows that the hurdles races are her bread and butter.

“If I focus on the hurdles, I can still do other things,” Negroni said. “I enjoy doing all of them. It definitely helps me get ready for college.”

It’s not too soon for Negroni to prepare a little for college. After all, she is a junior. College will be here soon enough.

“I have been getting a lot of letters from colleges,” Negroni said.

More will certainly come if Negroni fares well at the NJSIAA Non-Public B North state sectionals in Toms River over the weekend.

“I’m trying not to think about it too much,” Negroni said of the state sectionals. “I just hope I can continue to do well. I think it’s all just working toward the goal, which is to be on top for my senior year.”

“When she’s running with the best, you can definitely see the improvement,” Mazzolla said. “I still think she needs to improve her body. That’s one of the major objectives we plan on working on. We’ll see next year how much we’ve been able to help her.”

Negroni’s teammate and fellow Kearny resident Kas Rozalski won the Bergen County Meet of Champions in the pole vault, having cleared 12-1 1/2., so she is an athlete to watch over the next two weeks.

But Negroni leads the way for the Golden Griffins, no question. With her versatility, she’s an inspiration for everyone involved in the Queen of Peace track and field program.

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