Bolla family makes Firecracker 5K ‘yearly traditional run’
One of the leading competitors at the 2019 Brentwood Firecracker 5K Run was diminutive Gina Bolla, a Whitehall resident and a rising junior at Baldwin.
Bolla, 16, placed second in 15-18 female age division with a time of 20 minutes, 27 seconds, behind only Gionna Quarzo, 16, of Vanderbilt, who secured first place in 19:07.
“This is the third year in a row that I ran the Firecracker race with my family,” Bolla said. “It is my favorite race, and I think I had a very good run. The energy for this race is always exciting. I love that everyone dresses up, and everybody is so excited to run.”
Bolla is a cross country, indoor and outdoor track athlete at Baldwin. Her older brother, Joey, graduated from Baldwin last year and attends Pitt.
“My mother (Andrea) and father (Joe) both ran in the race. This was their second year running,” Bolla said. “My mom grew up running cross country and track. The four of us make it a yearly traditional run, and we all look forward to it every year. It is a wonderful family event and parade.”
Bolla is a distance runner for Baldwin, competing in the 800-meter, 1,600 and 3,200 runs. She placed 25th in the 3,200 at the WPIAL Class AAA qualifier. The top 24 advanced to the finals.
“Gina had a great track season,” said Rich Wright, Baldwin’s cross country coach, also an assistant in the track and field program. “She had PRs in the 3,200, 1,600 and 800. Last cross country season, she was always in the top five.
“Gina is going to make some noise this cross country season. She has worked very hard this summer.”
Joey Bolla, who was a multisport athlete at Baldwin, posted a 22:42 time in the male 15-19 division.
“I think all of the competitors did a great job,” he said. “It is a huge event, and I love running it every year.
“What I enjoy the most about the race is coming back every year to run it and seeing all of my old cross country friends and teammates still running the race with me.”
Joey Bolla, 18, competed in cross country and track at Baldwin.
“Joey was a strong runner,” Wright said, “and, like Gina, had a great work ethic.”
Parents Andrea and Joe, both 47, finished with times of 28:39 and 28:40, respectively, in the 45-49 age divisions.
Andrea graduated from Ringgold in 1989 and Saint Vincent in ’93. She works in finance at Mellon Corp., which is part of BNY Mellon.
Husband Joe graduated from Seton LaSalle and Pitt, also in 1989 and ’93. He is a mathematics teacher in the Highlands School District.
“They are great parents and awesome runners,” Wright said.
Ray Fisher is a freelance writer.