Athlete Spotlight: James Wood Track & Field Athlete Matt Vitagliano

Posted: May 6, 2014

Sport: Track and Field

Events: Triple jump and long jump

Parents: Paul and Terri Vitagliano

Hometown: Clear Brook (moved from Camden, Maine to Virginia as a high school freshman)

Nickname: Some people call me “Maine.”

What do you love about track and field: Just how laid back it is compared to other sports. It’s still really competitive, but I find it pretty relaxing.

Biggest strength and weakness in track and field: [Strength] definitely my technique. I’ve developed a pretty good triple-jumping technique the last few years, and that’s what’s allowed me to win a couple big meets. It’s not my athleticism or speed, it’s all technique. [Weakness], probably speed. I’m not slow, but I definitely can’t compete in a 100 or 200 in most big meets.

Funniest person on the team: Zack Bowin. He always has hilarious stories he tells, and basically anything he says he’s just able to make it funny because of the way he says it.

Something people may not know about Coach Matt Stegmaier: He’s a Jets fan.

Most memorable moment in track and field: Probably the [Northwestern] district meet last year. We took second to Handley, but pretty much every junior [got a personal record] in their event. I PR’d, my teammate Sawyer [Michelitch], Logan [Shiffler], all the jumpers and throwers. Everyone just had an awesome meet.

Most embarrassing moment in track and field: Sophomore year I dropped the baton in a 4x[400] relay, and I still ran. After I finished I did the push-ups I had to do. I did 25 push-ups. If we drop the baton in general, it’s 25 push-ups.

Favorite athlete: [2012 Olympic decathlon gold medalist] Ashton Eaton. He’s just good at everything. He’s the world’s greatest athlete, and he just looks good with his technique in every event.

Favorite sports team: New England Patriots

Three people you can have dinner with, dead or alive: My grandfather on my dad’s side; triple jump world-record holder Jonathan Edwards; and my girlfriend Brittany Arnold. I never got to know my grandfather because he died right before I was born and I never got to know him, but he seemed like a pretty cool guy from what I’ve heard. [Edwards], I’d like to learn about how he became so successful and what it is about his training that allowed him to do so good. [Arnold], because I like eating dinner with her.

Favorite quote: “You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take.” — Wayne Gretzky

Favorite place to eat in town: Chick-fil-A. I usually get two chicken sandwiches and a large lemonade.

Premeet routine/ritual: I basically just warm up and do a bunch of run-throughs to make sure my steps are right.

Plans after high school: I will be attending Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York this fall, and I plan on doing track there. I want to study electrical engineering. I just like engineering in general. I’m strong in math and science, and I also find electricity pretty interesting, considering most people don’t know too much about it.

— Compiled by Robert Niedzwiecki


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