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Virginia track and field senior Vincenzo Chiariello (Staten Island, N.Y.) recently sat down with to talk about breaking his own school record in the weight throw at last weekend’s Penn State National Invitational (Jan. 27-28) and differences between the indoor and outdoor seasons.

Last weekend you broke your own school record in the weight throw, tell us about your performance and your goals for the season.
The performance was pretty good. I had three throws over my PR in the meet, so it was a good day overall. I was surprised though, because I didn’t really practice the week before because I had a back injury, but I think the time off helped with being fresher and not having as much pressure. It’s nice to get the attention, but it’s just another step. I just got lucky enough that it wasn’t that hard of a record to break, but it’s nice because it’s a concrete example that I accomplished something here, so that’s nice. I just want to keep moving my PR up and up and keep trying to improve my numbers.

What are the differences in the weight throw (indoor season) and the hammer throw (outdoor) and which do you prefer?
The hammer throw is the more pure form of the two. That’s what people really train for because it is competed at the Olympics and on the world scene. The weight throw probably started as a way to train for the hammer throw. It’s shorter and heavier, so it is more strength. Americans adopted it as a point-scoring event in college, so it became really popular here. Europeans don’t do it.

They’re different implements severely. The hammer is 16-pounds and three feet long and the weight is 35-pounds and a foot long. Technically they’re very similar, but if you’re more of a weight thrower, it’s hard to be a good hammer thrower because it’s shorter and heavier and you can rely more on strength and you can get away with less efficient technique.

I definitely prefer the hammer… I don’t really like the weight throw but it’s a necessary evil. For me, the hammer is much more about feel and rhythm where as the weight is a little bit about those things, but also dealing with a 35-pound thing in my hand. Also, it’s outside and it goes farther and that’s much more fun to do.

How did you become a thrower?
My brother did it in high school and it looked cool, plus I was never really good at other sports. I played basketball until about seventh grade, but I was never good at that. I decided to follow my brother and throw in high school. The coach of my high school is really good and he knew what he was doing, so it took off from there. I loved it.

Why did you come to UVa what is your favorite part of the university?
I like Thomas Jefferson and the history of the school and that it’s a great university. Also, the coach who recruited me here I really liked, so she was a big influence. Charlottesville is awesome… I like walking through Grounds everyday and it’s nice to know that I go to a school like here. I really like that I’ve met a great group of friends, especially the track team. We’ve had a lot of good times here and that’s hands down the best thing about UVa.

What is your favorite class?
I’ve had plenty of great classes. Political philosophy was good and I just like philosophy so all those classes were really good. I took a musicianship class once, where you didn’t have to sing but you learned pitch and stuff. I played piano for 10 years, so I had a decent idea of what music theory is about. Overall, I took a lot of good classes.

What’s the biggest change coming from Staten Island, N.Y., to Charlottesville?
Have you ever watched The Jersey Shore? A lot of them are from Staten Island, so imagine living with those types of people and then coming down here. There you go!

Also, I love that (Washington) D.C. is two hours away to the north. If you go half an hour south, you can go floating on the James [River] and another half an hour south, you can go cliff diving. There’s hiking galore and it’s awesome out here. There’s a lot of fun stuff to do and it pretty much has everything you can ask for.

Why would you recommend UVa to a prospective thrower?
We have good facilities, a new track and the new indoor throwing cage. Coach Ross (Richardson) is awesome and he’s a good coach. With UVa, the school speaks for itself. It has one of the best programs and academics in the nation. Plus, Charlottesville is really pretty. It would be an easy sell in my mind.

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