The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

The Valley Echo

Male Athlete of the Year: Patrick Kurtz

contributed by Patrick Kurtz
Patrick Kurtz holds a firm lead over two other runners. Kurtz is the 2024 Male Athlete of the year.

Pascack Valley senior Patrick Kurtz, a varsity cross country, winter track, and spring track athlete, has achieved many accomplishments in his career. Although the sports are all running, each sport provides Kurtz with a different perspective and meaning. 

During the autumn seasons, Kurtz began his high school career playing soccer his freshman year. However, he has run cross country ever since. 

“I played soccer freshman year,” Kurtz said. “I didn’t even know cross country was a thing.” 

Coach John Murtaugh had a valued impact as Kurtz’s cross-country coach. 

“Murt always gives me tips to help me focus in a race and tells me what to do,” Kurtz said. 

Murtaugh noted that Kurtz has great ability and his success has led to a growth in confidence.

“It has been a distinct pleasure to watch Patrick’s abilities and talent grow and flourish over the past four years,” Murtaugh said. “If you were to have asked Patrick and myself freshman year if we thought he would be one of the top runners in the state at cross country and on the track, we would have said ‘no way.’ His running success has come as a surprise to us both. This is the beauty in it.” 

Throughout his cross country years, Patrick accomplished: First Team All County, First Team All-League, First Team All North Jersey, and North 1 Group 2 Sectional Champion.

The way Kurtz discovered his love for running was unconventional.  

“I used to always run to school because I was always late,” Kurtz said. “I also always played tag during recess, and that was really fun.”

Following the fall, Kurtz runs winter and spring track. Similarly to cross country, Patrick didn’t intend to do track at first.

“I came out for baseball freshman year and wasn’t good because I didn’t play for two years,” Kurtz said. “It didn’t really work out, so I went and did track. I wasn’t that good at first and I actually did sprints initially.”

Coach Anthony Judilla praised Kurtz for his growth and confidence from when he was a freshman. 

“He is unlike any esteemed athlete I’ve coached before,” Judilla said. “He’s stubborn in a confident and competitive way.  He’s grown so much from when he was a freshman. While he used to be quiet and soft-spoken, he’s become more expressive about race strategy, event breakdowns, and what other premier athletes will be in his race.”

In winter track, Kurtz accomplished First Team All County (1000m), First Team All North Jersey (1600m), and North 1 Group 2 Section Championship (800m and 1600m). While in Spring Track, he achieved First Team All County in the 800m race. 

After the decision to run track, Kurtz went on to have many great moments, but a couple stuck out to him. 

“One of them [stand-out moments] was probably this year when I won the 800m at the Bergen Meet of Champs (Spring),” Kurtz said. “I was really happy with that. In [Winter Track] I split a 1:54 in the SMR Relay which was the state leader. Lastly, as a junior, we won the cross-country sectional championship against Lakeland and Indian Hills, and we won as a team.”

Preparing for these races comes differently for every runner. However, Kurtz takes a more traditional way. 

“I try not to eat too crazy the night before,” Kurtz said. “I definitely eat more healthily and make sure to hydrate a lot. I stretch and roll out, nothing too hard a few days before the race. Don’t overthink it. You certainly need to get a good start to not get boxed in.”

Next year, Patrick plans on attending community college and beginning his college running career. 

“I’m still deciding somewhat,” Kurtz said. “I think I’m going to a community college for a year and then I’ll transfer somewhere. I am definitely interested in running in college. I’m doing a track club during my time in the community college.”

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About the Contributor
Robert Colletti
Robert Colletti, Sports Editor
Robert Colletti, a Pascack Valley senior is the sports editor of the Valley Echo. He has been writing for the publication for a total of three years. He loves covering sports games and writing feature stories. When he's not writing for the Echo, Robert is mostly playing baseball or playing golf with his friends.

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