Amherst’s David Pinero-Jacome named Daily Hampshire Gazette’s Boys Cross Country Athlete of the Year

By HANNAH BEVIS

Staff Writer

Published: 01-02-2023 11:29 AM

Before he ever laced up a pair of cross country spikes, David Pinero-Jacome was a soccer player.

It seemed like an inevitability that he’d keep playing the game – soccer was the ‘sport of the house,’ with David playing striker and his twin brother Miguel backing him up as a defender.

“I never would have thought that I would hang up the cleats to run,” Pinero-Jacome said.

But while running wasn’t on his mind just yet, his parents knew that they had a prodigy on their hands, and encouraged him to run instead. It was hard not to see that Pinero-Jacome had innate talent – as a third grader, he dropped a 7:15 mile, and in the fifth grade ran a 68 second 400 meter.

When he hit middle school, he fully devoted himself to running, giving up soccer for good. His races in seventh and eighth grade, in particular, caught the eye of Amherst High School boys head coach Chris Gould.

“Both he and his brother Miguel and Kyle Yanko were pretty impressive middle school runners in seventh and eighth grade,” Gould said. “We were kind of watching them and seeing what would happened when they came up to us.”

Bad luck struck Pinero-Jacome before his freshman year. Firstly the pandemic put in a number of new safety regulations and shortened the racing schedule. On top of that, an injury put him on the sidelines in the months leading up to his first high school season.

“Going in to my freshman year, I would say that summer – it was one of the worst moments of my life. At the beginning of the summer, I suffered a stress fracture, and I didn’t run at all that summer,” Pinero-Jacome said. “I got way over in my head and heading to that first practice, I was immediately humbled. But that was exactly what I needed to get back on my feet and turn my life around.”

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If you know Pinero-Jacome, you know he’s a fiercely competitive individual. He and his brother have been competing for as long as they can remember, and that fiery determination shows when Pinero-Jacome hits the cross country course.

This year, that competitiveness took him too his breaking point. Before his freshman season, he couldn’t lace up his shoes at all to train. In the summer leading up to this season, Pinero-Jacome wanted to run faster than he ever had, and threw himself into his summer training. It worked, for a while, but the junior went too hard, too fast, and like Icarus flying too close to the sun, it burned him at the end of the season.

“I had high expectations for my junior year, but I kinda allowed my (ambition) to get the best of me. That summer I worked really, really hard, but evidently I didn’t leave anything left in the tank for the long length of the season,” Pinero-Jacome said. “So burnout, I found out, is a real thing.”

Even dealing with burnout, Pinero-Jacome was still the fastest runner in the area for much of this season, dueling with Northampton’s Theodore King-Pollet all year long. Pinero-Jacome broke the 17 minute mark multiple times this season and won several races as well as earning the runner-up spot at the Division 1 PVIAC meet.

Patience is going to be the key for Pinero-Jacome as he continues his running career, as well as accepting the unknown that always comes with racing.

“I think he’s a very studious and introspective runner. So he’s always looking for the edge, for exactly how his training affects his racing,” Gould said. “He’s also learned that you can’t always easily explain what happens when you run well or when you don’t. Sometimes you just don’t know why it is. So I think (he’s) learning to handle a little more uncertainty as a runner, which I think is a good thing.”

Pinero-Jacome is already gearing up for track season, and still has one more year of high school running left with the Hurricanes. Despite his struggles at the tail end of this year, he hasn’t lost any of his determination or competitiveness, and will work both smarter and harder to better his running.

“Running really allows me to harness my competitive nature, and taught me that to work hard, it requires one step at a time in the process, and the accumulation of working hard leads to success,” Pinero-Jacome said.

FIRST TEAM ALL-STARS

Brandon Adamson, senior, Belchertown

Trevor Adamson, senior, Belchertown

Luke Howard, freshman, Frontier

Theodore King-Pollet, junior, Northampton

Diego Lopez, senior, Amherst

Dillon Neveu, senior, Hampshire

David Pinero-Jacome, junior, Amherst,

Elijah Quinn, junior, Holyoke

Davis Wheat, junior Northampton

Sam Woodruff, freshman, Amherst

SECOND TEAM ALL-STARS

Aidan Bergeron, senior, Amherst

Gavin DaFonte, junior, Hampshire

Kyan Frantz, senior, PVCICS

Derek Gould, junior, Belchertown

Evan Hedlund, eighth grade, Frontier

Luke Howard, freshman, Frontier

Nathan Hutchinson, sophomore, Granby

Carter Masse, senior, Belchertown

Jude Mourad, senior, Northampton

Spencer Reese, senior, Hampshire

Kyle Yanko, junior, Amherst

HONORABLE MENTION

Nathan Benson, sophomore, Granby

Tim Cahill, junior, Hampshire

Nicholas Elias-Gillette, junior, Hampshire

Jack Kamins, sophomore, Northampton

Jacob Maynard, eighth grade, Gateway

Ty O’Donnell, sophomore, Belchertown

Isaac Roth, senior, Northampton

Grafton Tolopko, eighth grade, PVCICS

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