Q&A with Vincenzo Chiariello
Vincenzo Chiariello is a thrower on Virginia’s track and field team. In just his second year, Chiariello broke Thom McKinney’s 1991 school record in the weight throw, with an effort of 61′ 2.25″ (18.65m) at the Hokie Invitational this past weekend. He also competes in the shot put and hammer throw for the Cavaliers, including the discus during the outdoor season. A native of Staten Island, N.Y., Chiariello will return home with the Cavaliers this weekend to compete at the Millrose Games in Madison Square Garden on Friday and at the NYC Mayor’s Cup in the Armory on Saturday.
Question: You had a huge personal-best throw this weekend that broke the school record in the weight throw. What was your reaction when you heard the announcer call your mark?
Chiariello: I was a little confused honestly, a bit befuddled, but somehow not all that confuddled. The last meet, I threw an astonishing 15.9-ish meters, and my throws in practice during the week were pretty good. But I didn’t think that they were in the range of what I threw at the meet. However, during warm-ups for this meet I had one around 18 meters, which was most surprising, but also a big confidence booster for the actual competition throws.
Question: When did you find out that it was a new school record?
Chiariello: The old record was around 60 feet, and he read the mark at 18.65 meters, which I was pretty sure was over 60, so I assumed I got the record. For some reason, the NCAA feels that the English system just isn’t cool enough for collegiate athletes. Don’t get me started on my metric vs. English rant….
Question: The previous record had been held since 1991. How much does it mean to you to sit atop the record books now? Was that a goal of yours heading into the season?
Chiariello: It’s a great feeling to have a record to my name! I plan on having several conversations with people who have no clue what track and field (especially the hammer throw and weight throw) really is and bask in their admiring ignorance. That, or people will misunderstand me when I say I have a school record in the weight at UVa, and they think that I was the heaviest person to walk on campus.
The record was a goal of mine ever since I saw the top-10 list though. So it’s a nice stepping stone to everything else that I’d like to accomplish.
Question: You’re heading back home this weekend for two big meets. What is it like to compete in NYC?
Chiariello: I have the good fortune of being a native to Staten Island, a borough long forgotten to New York City and home to 3/8ths of the cast of MTV’s smash new hit reality show “Jersey Shore.” I don’t know the Situation [a character on the show from Staten Island], so please don’t ask.
Having said that, it will be nice to be back home competing in NYC. Almost every indoor meet during my high school career was at the Armory, the indoor track facility that we’re going to, so I can go and sleep under the track again just like the good ol’ days.
Question: Will you have a lot of family and friends at either of the meets? If so, will your family be bringing the team any snacks?
Chiariello: Funny a question as such should be posed. I’m sure my family and some very good friends will be there, they talk about going and whatnot so I’m sure they’ll show up – but more importantly they best be bringing snacks! Most people from Virginia don’t know seven layer cookies, lemon cookies, and really good sausage and cheese. I find it to be my duty to enlighten those stuck in the dark recesses of the caves of not too terribly good semi-ethnic food.
Question: Being from the city, what made you decide to come to Virginia?
Chiariello: In a short list:
1 – Several questions ago, I mentioned that 3/8ths of the cast of Jersey Shore are native to my homeland of Staten Island
2 – Five Guys, which ended up having a restaurant in NYC anyway
3 – Carrie Lane Trivia
4 – Boat shoes and conspicuous rain boots
5 – Those cool snake wall things near the Lawn
Question: What is something that most people outside of the track and field team don’t know about you?
Chiariello: I have developed a set of strict guidelines pertaining to living a private and concealed life (I also love adorably small fluffy animals).
Question: Is there something you wish more people knew about you?
Chiariello: I’m not at liberty to divulge such information.
Question: What is a talent that you wish you had?
Chiariello: This guy, Ōyama Masutatsu. In short, he fought 52 bulls (for whatever reason), three of which were “exterminated” with one hit, and he knocked the horns off of 49.
Or I read about this guy who ate an entire plane in two years, I’ll probably get some jokes for that…
Question: If you weren’t a thrower for the UVa track and field team, what would you be doing right now?
Chiariello: Well I’d probably be out trying to fight bulls, and along with that probably end up in the hospital. Otherwise, I would stay here and study, maybe try out for rugby because that looks kind of fun. I honestly don’t know anything else. Track and field is a big part of my life and things would be incredibly different if I didn’t have to wake up for 7:15 a.m. lifts and Saturday workouts.
Question: If you could be anyone else on the track and field team, who would you be, and why?
Chiariello: Steve Delice. The only reason I have is two words: Steve and Delice. Anyone who can wear a singlet from the Empire State Games around town on a weekend is a special case. In case of injury though, my bench would be (in descending order of height) Jerome “DieuDonne” Meyinsse, Marcus Robinson, Rainer Fiala, and Kevin “Shark Attack” Anding. Who wouldn’t I be you ask? Steve Finley. Granted, half of the reason is the same as Steve Delice, but I just don’t think I could live with myself.