Salute to Seniors: TJ Hillyer of Howell HS

Salute To Seniors is a medium for "senior farewells". We wanted to give everyone a chance to salute them one more time as well as invite those seniors to tell their stories from the past four years. Thank you to everyone who submitted and are waiting patiently in the queue, entries are now closed. 

TJ Hillyer

Howell HS

                                              What was your most memorable race or moment?

                                                My most memorable race has to be the 2017 Group 4 Cross country State Championships. It was my first time qualifying for Groups in Cross Country. There was a lot of big names in that race and all I wanted to do was secure a wildcard spot. I trusted my training, coaches, and ability. I was able to run 16:06 and finish 3rd overall.

                                                  Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?

                                                  My biggest competition over my four years would have to be Nick Lundberg of Freehold Twp, Colin Flood of Manasquan, Tyler Schwinn of Red Bank Regional, and Cameron Janovic of Shore Regional. These boys helped me get better every time we competed on the trails or track. I raced against them almost every time I competed, especially since we're all apart of Shore Conference. Best of luck to them at the collegiate level.

                                                  What was your greatest accomplishment?

                                                  My greatest accomplishment was running 16:06 at Holmdel Park at the 2017 Group 4 Cross country State Championships. I came from being a no-name to beating Matt Fory's Holmdel Park school record of 16:24, placing 3rd at Groups and moving onto MoC. 

                                                  If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running or field career in high school?

                                                  If I could change something about my running career, I would have wished I had taken running more seriously freshman and sophomore year. I always took running seriously, but it wasn't until the end of my sophomore year that my teammates and I started to really invest all of our time. 

                                                  What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?

                                                  The most difficult obstacle I had to overcome was a knee/shin injury my junior year during indoor track. I was coming into indoor track after my best and longest Cross Country season. After a few races indoors, I developed a slight pain in my left knee. I drastically lowered my mileage and started going to physical therapy but it wasn't getting any better. I took time off and started up summer training and I was healthy again, but that wasn't the hard part. The mental battle of getting back to where you once were is the most difficult part. I was able to overcome this setback through the help of my coaches.

                                                  What will you miss the most?

                                                  I'm going to miss my teammates and coaches the most. I'm definitely going to miss competing and training with my teammates. I wouldn't have gotten this far if it wasn't for them. I'll miss having one of the most woke coaches and all the advice that came with him.

                                                  What advice would you give to younger athletes?

                                                  The advice I would give younger athletes is something Ryan Humelsine of Red Bank Regional gave me at the end of my sophomore year. Have fun with it. Don't exclude yourself. I used to not talk to anyone before my race and stress all day leading up to the race. My best races were when I was laughing on the line and not stressing over the race. You don't need this insane strategy to win races, you just have to go out there and race.

                                                  What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?

                                                  My coaches are some of my biggest motivators. They believed in me my freshman year and pushed me to be up with the top guys on the team. They gave me a chance and I wouldn't be where I am today if they hadn't. On top of giving me a chance, they give me constant advice. I couldn't say thank you enough.

                                                  What are your post-high school or college plans?

                                                  I will be attending Rutgers University to further my academic and athletic career.

                                                  Who would you like to say 'thank you' to?

                                                  I would like to thank the Bajohr family. Bill Bajohr motivated me and got me invested in this sport. Alex Bajohr has been such an amazing friend and pleasure to compete alongside. I love that kid so much and I don't know what I'd do without him. Mr. Bajohr always believed in me and supported me. The Bajohrs helped out my family during rough times and I am forever grateful. I've never met a more caring and supportive family.  Without them, I couldn't have reached my levels of success. Thank you.

                                                  Is there anything else you'd like to add?

                                                  RU Rah Rah!