NEWBURGH - There were two things Gianna Frontera couldn’t stop doing Thursday morning: smiling and proudly displaying the trademark two finger gesture, symbolizing her college’s wolfpack figure, a wolf.
Frontera is likely to be mimicking that wolfpack sign for the next several years, as the Newburgh Free Academy star harrier is headed to N.C. State on a full athletic scholarship for cross country and track and field. One of the top female scholastic runners in New York State the last few years, Frontera made her acceptance to her collegiate choice official Thursday morning at NFA, where she signed papers, surrounded by her family and school administrators. Courted by an array of colleges throughout the country, Frontera felt something magical when she visited the N.C. Campus. Suddenly, the daunting task of choosing a college became an easy task.
"I felt comfortable right away; there was instant chemistry and trust when I met the coach and other runners," recalled Frontera, donning a black North Carolina State long-sleeved jersey. "There was just so much support, athletically and academically."
It’s that kind of supportive network that Frontera is hoping will take her to the next level. Recently elevating her mental running game, the determined Frontera is looking to finetune that aspect as well as improve upon her form and strength at N.C. State. Each is a component her coach, Laurie Henes (a former Wolfpack runner), has every confidence will bloom. Like Gianna, Henes immediately felt N.C. was the ideal place for Frontera to flourish. Scouting the NFA star for some time, Henes was well versed in Frontera’s talent and initiative (having had saught out and attended a high level summer running camp on her own this past summer), focus and determination, but when she visited the campus, other, equally special variables surfaced.
"We knew Gianna was willing to take the extra steps and do the little things to be successful, and that she had a lot of drive," said Henes, the Head Women’s Cross Country Coach and Assistant Track Coach. "Then, when she came here, it all just clicked; right away; I saw the support she had from her family and how well she got along with the other team members." Henes added, "I believe she can make a difference right away as a freshman; she just needs to be patient, and it will happen."
For Frontera, who is leaning toward a major/career in the medical field, Thursday’s signing was also a time to reflect...not only upon her OCIAA, Section IX, New York State and National running feats spanning the last four years, but something even more.
"I feel a great relief that I was able to stick it out with running, through even the challenging times, and worked very hard," said a reflective Frontera. "Now, I’m ready to do bigger and better things and open myself up to a whole new world; I can’t wait."