Student-Teacher Duo Secures Victory in Superhero Half Marathon Relay

In a stunning display of athleticism and school spirit, Oak Knoll Upper School Student Support Coordinator Claire Bukata ’04 and eighth-grader Nina Hinic ’28 clinched first place in the female relay team category at the Super Hero Half Marathon and Relay held on May 19, 2024, at Ginty Field in Morris Township. Their two-person relay performance, crossing the finish line at 1:35:24:29 with a blistering pace of 7:16, placed them an impressive 33rd out of 685 participating teams overall.

Bukata and Hinic, who is also a member of Oak Knoll’s grades 7/8 track team, were joined by students Abby Cirillo ’25 and Keira Ardise ’25, who each ran a half marathon; History Teacher John Petito and Chemistry Teacher Sean Melican who teamed up for the relay; Associate Director of College Counseling Meghan Hyland, who ran a relay; Associate Director of Upper School Admission Diana Maldonado, who ran a half marathon, and Athletic Trainer Allie Montefinese, who ran a half marathon.

Oak Knoll participants who completed the half marathon or relay leg earned one point toward their House as part of Oak Knoll’s House System. Many of the proceeds from this event also benefitted the Morristown Rotary.

Bukata, who is also the Grades 7/8 Track Coach, said she was impressed with Hinic’s dedication to her sport and her constant desire for more — both in and out of practice.

“Whether it was early morning runs before school, demonstrating immense endurance in our track workouts, or voluntarily running a half-marathon relay with Coach Bukata, (Hinic) set(s) the bar high for her teammates,” Bukata said in her remarks during the recent Middle School Sports Award Dinner on Monday, May 20, 2024, where Hinic also won the Outstanding Runner-Distance Award.

Bukata, an alum of Oak Knoll herself, said one of the things she loves most about Oak Knoll is that she can teach students in the classroom and then turn around and coach them on the track.