Pitt thrower hits lofty heights

Olivia Moriconi wasn’t sure how she would do at the provincials. The Pitt Meadows thrower competed in her favourite event, the discus...

Olivia Moriconi

Olivia Moriconi

Olivia Moriconi wasn’t sure how she would do at the provincials.

The Pitt Meadows thrower competed in her favourite event, the discus, and also in shot put last Saturday at the B.C. High School Track and Field Championships in Langley. It was the ultimate meet in her high school athletic career – one that has seen her win an impressive scholarship.

But Friday night was the Pitt Meadows prom and dry grad, marking the culmination of 12 years of school, a right of passage, and one of the biggest nights of her life.

She didn’t want to miss out or get short changed on either score.

So she celebrated with her classmates until five in the morning, got three hours sleep, and had one eye closed as the car crossed the Golden Ears Bridge for the big meet.

“I was so out of it,” she laughs. “But I was able to focus and take first.”

The dominant Moriconi won the discus easily – her throw of 43.31m was more than three meters ahead of the silver medallist. She also took gold in the shot put, with a throw of 12.24m.

The discus throw wasn’t a personal best – last year Moriconi threw 44.24m at the Legion track meet, which is essentially the high school nationals. But it got the job done, and considering the circumstances, it was phenomenal.

Her athletic prowess, combined with a report card that should come out with lots of As and Bs, got Moriconi numerous offers from colleges and universities.

The decision came down to two U.S. schools, both with track teams in the prestigious NCAA. She visited New Mexico State, which was offering a full ride. But she chose Utah State University in Logan, where she will have to pay for her room and board, because it seemed a better fit.

New Mexico was brutally hot to her. Utah was a more intimate campus, surrounded by mountains, and with a climate that is more like home.

“It’s small, and very safe,” she said.

Moriconi has been looking at the throws by her future teammates with the Aggies, and those of other competitors in the NCAA. She sees freshmen throwing 42m, which she could beat already, and seniors going 56m, which is an incredible feat.

But Moriconi knows improvement can come quickly. She went from throwing 36m to the 40m-range in the space of about a month.

And she is getting stronger through training.

“Up until this year, I didn’t do any real weight training – I just did it,” she said. “The strength has definitely helped.”

Pitt track coach Lance Kraus said Moriconi is a natural, and he too can foresee her making huge strides as she trains and competes with the elite athletes of the NCAA. He thinks her choice of school was a good one, and now a long-term commitment to her art, and learning to train toward a performance peak are ways she will see the discus sailing further.

“She will compete for Canada at some point,” he predicts.

He said Moriconi has set school records that should stand for many years.

“She’s really well respected within our team, and she’s humble and doesn’t put herself above anyone.”

Kraus was the one who encouraged her to try track and field back when she was in Grade 8.

“I starting throwing, and I loved it,” she said. “I love the people I’m surrounded by there, whether it’s training or competing.”

She said throwing coach Bradley Graeme has been a great teacher for her, which is necessary in an event like discus – which she prefers to shotput.

“It’s very technical, and very much about the little things,” she said.

Moriconi will study kinesiology, and is interested in working in physical rehabilitation.