Coach Justina Cassavell brings a wealth of experience coaching men and women distance runners. She is currently the Coordinator of the Men and Women’s Cross Country Teams as well as Indoor and Outdoor Track & Field Team at Ramapo College of New Jersey. The Ramapo College men and women have broken numerous school records in her tenure. Jeremy Hernandez (’18) has run 3:43.56 for 1500 meters (equal to 4:01.38 for One Mile) and has also been named named an All American in both the 800 meters and 1600 meters. Additionally, in February 2018, Hernandez became the first athlete in Division III history to break 4 minutes in mile indoors (3:59.01) under Coach Cassavell’s training.
Before moving to the collegiate level, Justina Cassavell was Head Coach of Girls Cross Country/Track & Field Team at Voorhees High School (1997 until 2013). In recognition of her achievements at the high school level, Cassavell was inducted into the New Jersey State Hall of Fame for High School Coaches. She led her XC teams to three New Jersey State Meet of Champions Titles in 2007, 2008, and 2012. She captured nine New Jersey State Group Championship Titles, and 13 New Jersey Sectional Championship Titles during her tenure with the program. In her 16 years with the Vikings, Cassavell won nine Skyland Conference Championship Titles, while the team qualified for the Meet of Champions every season, producing 14 top ten finishers, nine top five finishers, and six top three finishers. She led the Viking team to a NXN Northeast Championship in 2010, while earning second place at the same championship in both 2007 and 2012. The Vikings also qualified three times for the Nike Team Nationals in 2007, 2010, and 2012, placing 13th overall in ’07. Her Vikings still hold the top two fastest team averages (19:01 in 2007, 19:02 in 2012) ever run in New Jersey history of state championships run on the tough Holmdel course. In addition to her remarkable career as a high school cross-country coach, she has also distinguished herself as a coach of track and field. Her team earned a national championship in the 3200 meter relay in 2002, and she has coached numerous All Americans in track & field.
Cassavell was honored by the Newark Star Ledger as Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2001 and 2012. She also is an eight-time recipient (2001, 2003, 2004, 2006 – 2008, 2010, 2012) of the Easton Express Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year Award, while earning NFHS Coaches Association Sectionals Girls Cross Country Coach of the Year in 2007.
In addition to coaching, Cassavell started a non-profit track and field club in 2007 called The Hunterdon Hawks Youth Track & Field Club.
Rich Refi has been the Girls Cross Country coach at Hillsborough HS since 2001. In that span the girls have won the Delaware Division of the Skyland Conference 5 times, won the Skyland Conference Championship 2 times, won the Somerset County Championship 7 times. At the state level the girls have won the State Sectional Championship 4 times, the Group 4 State Championship 4 times and won the overall State Championship (M.O.C.) 2 times. They were named Star-Ledger Team of the Year both those years. They also had a team 3rd place finish and 4 team runner-up finishes. Six Hillsborough girls have broken 19 minutes at Holmdel Park and one has broken 18 minutes. His teams placed in the top 5 at the Northeast Regional meet 4 consecutive years. Hillsborough has had 4 different individual qualifiers for the Nike National Championships. Coach Refi has been named NJ State Coach of the Year 6 times (3 for Girls XC) and the Northeast Regional Coach of the Year twice. He was elected into the NJ State Hall of Fame in 2009.
Senior Counselor – Katie Spratford
Katie Spratford, a native of Califon, NJ, trained under Coach Justina Cassavell at Voorhees High School from 2004-2008. Justina’s passion for the sport, positive attitude, and hard working mentality had a huge influence on Katie. She began to grow with the sport each year and by 2007, she was a member of the outstanding cross country team that won the MOC State Championships, set the state course record, placed 2nd at the Nike Northeast Regional Championships, and placed 13th at Nike Team Nationals.
Upon graduating from Voorhees, Katie took her running dreams to Shippensburg University where she studied exercise science and competed on the cross country and track teams. Under Coach Steve Spence’s guidance, Katie was an 8 time All-American, 2 time Atlantic Region Track Athlete of the Year, 2 time Indoor Track & Field PSAC Athlete of the Year, and 8 time PSAC Champion. After graduating, Katie continued to chase her dreams and joined New England Distance, a post-collegiate running team based in Rhode Island. Katie currently represents the Saucony Hurricanes and is coached by Kurt Benninger.
This will be Katie’s second year at the Push Your Pace Camp.
Senior Counselor – Tierra Gourdine
Tierra has coached at Hillsborough HS for 13 years and will be the Assistant Coach with the Girls Cross Country program this Fall. She is a 3 time medalist at the Outdoor T&F Meet of Champions as a long sprinter, and went on to earn 6 All America honors at Montclair from 2001 to 2003, incuding a DIII National Championship in the 400 meter Hurdles in 2003.
In addition to her coaching resposibilities, Tierra is also a Physical Education teacher at Hillsborough HS.
Senior Counselor – Henry Sterling
Returning for his second year at Push Your Pace is Henry Sterling. A graduate of North Yarmouth Academy (Yarmouth Me) and Dartmouth College (’14), Henry currently represents Saucony and the New England Distance Project. While at Dartmouth, Sterling, who hails from South Freeport Maine, was team captain and earned 2nd team All Ivy honors in Cross Country. On the track he has PR’s of 4:03 for The Mile, 14:15 for 5000 Meters and 8:46 for the 3000 Meter Steeplechase, for which he has qualified for the USATF National Championships.