Serratore seals marvelous Methacton career with PIAA medal, earns Mercury All-Area Athlete of the Year honors

FAIRVIEW VILLAGE — As her final high school track and field season was winding down, Nicolette Serratore couldn’t keep her mind off the one thing still missing from her resume.

The Methacton multi-event standout had never medaled at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

In her last chance, Serratore was determined to fill that void.

She got the job done.

Serratore placed fifth in the javelin with a 130-11 at the PIAA Class AAA Championships to add a state medal to her already hefty high school hardware collection, becoming the Mercury-area’s lone girls’ PIAA medal winner this spring.

“It felt so good to get on that podium. It was amazing,’ Serratore said. “I wanted to be there my whole life and finally got there. I was just so happy.

“It was on my mind the whole season and drove me even more because I did want to get a state medal. I trained so hard for four years and I really wanted to be on that podium at the end of this year. It didn’t matter which event, javelin, triple jump, hurdles, I just wanted a state medal.’

She is a standout in all three of those events. She placed 10th in the triple jump with a 36-11½ at states.

“I was really disappointed last year because I thought I could at least medal in jav, but I guess all the stress got in my head, ” she said. “This year I decided to just have fun, just do what I know I’m capable of doing. And it worked. And, of course, coach (Rob) Ronzano, he had a lot to do with it.’

Ronzano, the Methacton girls head coach, has been churning out Warrior girls’ standout for a dozen years, and to 10 straight undefeated dual meet seasons and 10 consecutive league titles.

One week prior to states, Serratore also had a superb two days at the District 1 Class AAA Championships, capturing the gold in the javelin with a school-record 139-0, and also medaling in the triple jump by placing sixth with a 36-8¾, and just missed the semifinals in the 100 hurdles by one spot.

Her district distance smashed the record of 132-11, set by former Warriors standout Mel Leszcynski in 2011, when Serratore was in eighth grade.

“I finished exactly how I wanted to,’ she said with a smile. “It was really cool to get that record. I wasn’t expecting to do that. I knew I was close. I had been around there all season but was so surprised when it happened. I’m part of the school shuttle hurdle relay record, but I didn’t have an individual one. So that’s cool that I got it.’

At the PAC-10 Championships, Serratore captured two gold medals and a bronze, winning javelin with a 124-1, the triple jump with a 37-4, and placing third in the 100 hurdles with a 16.36. Added all up, Serratore is the 2015 Mercury All-Area Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Slender and petite, one has to wonder where Serratore gets the strength and energy to heave the javelin with such force.

“We do lift throughout our season,’ she said. “And I was working out in the summers at OverAchieve Sports and Speed at the Competitive Edge Sports in King of Prussia. It’s a bunch of high school and college athlete working with Brian Henesey, and he is amazing. He played in the NFL and at Bucknell. I’ve been going there since right after my freshman year.

“But I think it’s not so much strength, more the speed. Going fast on the runway and give it all you got. I played softball when I was younger, so I think that motion just comes naturally to me. And I always played football with my dad and younger brother in the backyard when I was younger and I think that helped, too.

“For the triple jump I went to Ronnie Livers and he helped me with that throughout most of the summer.’

Livers, now the assistant Perkiomen Valley track coach, was a superb triple- and high-jumper at Norristown High School and then San Jose State University back in the 1970’s, posting national numbers on both levels. Now he thrives on helping young athletes excel.

And despite all her success in the javelin, the triple jump is still Serratore’s favorite.

“I really like the triple,’ she said, her face lighting up. “The hurdles come natural, I’m just not as fast as I’d like to be. Javelin I just do it for fun on the side. And you don’t really get to practice it that much because we do so many other events that jav is like the last thing we do.’

One event wouldn’t be enough for her.

“I wouldn’t be able to do the same event over and over. I love doing five different things,’ she said.

But not at the expense of getting top notch grades. Serratore was also named to the PAC-10 All-Academic Team. For her, one helps the other.

“You go through the school day, then you go to exercise, do track and field, and then you go home and do your homework,’ she said. “It breaks it up and makes studying easier. Whenever practice was cancelled or postponed, I’d just have to go home and do nothing for a while, and I didn’t like it.’

She additionally has been working as a lifeguard at Shannondell Pool in Audubon over the summer.

“My parents just always instilled in me to just try your best at everything, keep working hard and then you reach your goal,’ she said.

“And I finally got it in track this year, did everything I wanted to accomplish, and made it to the college I wanted.’

That will be James Madison University where she will major in kinesiology and, of course, continue her track and field career, concentrating on the heptahlon.

“I was actually going to take a break this summer from the workouts, but I guess I’m not because I’m to get a workout packet from JMU,’ she said. “I’m kind of sad that the triple jump is not part of the heptathlon. Only the long jump is.

“When I was taking my last triple at states, honestly, I was almost going to cry because I knew that was my last one, that I was never going to do it again.’

She suddenly discovered her love for track in middle school, when she and her best friend Jenny Martin, also a Methacton multi-event standout, decided to become managers for the track team in sixth grade. A few practices with the middle school track team was all it took Serratore to be hooked.

Ronzano and his assistant coaches then molded her into the standout she has become.

“Coach Ronzano and coach (Rich) Freeman, they’re the best,’ she said.

Ronzano taught her how to became a standout in the triple jump, long jump, hurdles and sprints. Freeman, the Warriors throwing coach, taught her how to do the same in the javelin.

“Since I met her in seventh grade, Nikki has been one of the hardest-working athletes that I have ever coached,’ Ronzano said. “Her dedication to the sport and commitment to being the best that she can be is second to none. Although I’m incredibly proud of the accomplishments that Nikki has attained on the track, I’m even more proud of the person that she has become. She was an unbelievable role model for all of the girls on the team.’

And in a quiet, hard-working and unassuming way.

“This was definitely the best season I had through my four years here,’ Serratore said. “It’s going to be the most memorable one. For us seniors, it was also a little bit sad sometimes. Every time we’d go to a meet, we’d be ‘ This is our last meet here!’

“I’ll never forget all the memories on the track with the team. I’ve talked to many people and their teams just aren’t close. Ours is extremely close. We’re like a family. We all get along, are supportive of each other, and we have fun.

“Coach Ronzano tries to make us be serious in practice, but we always goof off a little bit. But him pushing us hard in practice, has everything to do with how well we do. He wants the best out of us. He is such a phenomenal coach and the reason we have been undefeated for 10 years. He has put his whole life into this team. What drove us mostly this season was, we wanted to keep that undefeated streak going for him.’

They did just that thanks to no small contribution from Serratore and her multi-event magnificence.

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