Catelli leads WWU track and field into nationals
By ANDREW LANG, THE BELLINGHAM HERALD, May 21, 2014
Western Washington University thrower Frank Catelli admitted the arm mechanics he used throwing balls growing up are nothing like the ones he uses with the shot put and discus, but his freakish throwing ability led him to finding success in both track events he now excels in.
Catelli, a sophomore at WWU, was a quarterback at Sequim High and could throw a football 70 yards as a high school sophomore.
His throwing ability invited suggestions he should try throwing the javelin. Catelli tried it, but four weeks in he tore an elbow tendon, which ultimately led him to the shot put and disc.
"(The injury) kind of paved the way," Catelli said in a phone interview.
Fast forward four years and Catelli has already become the best Viking to put the shot or throw the discus, earning school records in both. He is now looking to make a name for himself on the national stage as WWU competes in the NCAA Division II National Championships Thursday-Saturday, May 22-24, at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich.
Catelli is one of eight athletes heading to nationals, but he is the only one who'll be competing in two events. Eight competitors matches the second most Western has qualified since the Vikings joined the NCAA in 1998.
Joining Catelli is javelin duo Bethany Drake and Katie Reichert, hammer thrower Lindsay Wells, sprinter Alex Donigan, steeplechase athlete Katelyn Steen and men's javelin throwers Slater Hirst and John Haskin.
"I think it is a very strong group," WWU track and field coach Pee Wee Halsell said in a phone interview. "If they come through and we have a few surprises, I think we could do well. I think we got a good shot at finishing higher than we are ranked."
Halsell said he believes the women's team is capable of a top-10 finish and the men's team could go top 20, and obviously Catelli's performance will be a major factor in the men's success.
Catelli enters nationals ranked No. 5 in the shot put with a Great Northwest Athletic Conference overall and meet record of 59 feet, 7 inches. He is ranked No. 10 in the discus with a toss of 173-11.
His performance in the shot has been expected, he said, but the discus marks have come as a surprise.
"I worked a lot over the summer, gained 25 pounds this year and that translated over well," Catelli said. "Discus has been the biggest surprise. Coming in I've worked with (coach) Steven Ayers, and he's a good discus coach. I went from not even placing at GNAC to No. 10 in the nation."
Although this week's nationals will be Catelli's first outdoor championships, he's already competed in the indoor championships, where he placed 17th in the shot.
It was a disappointing end to the season, Catelli said, and he's looking to use what he learned at his first nationals meet to propel him to a better mark this time.
"It's going to be a tremendous amount of help in a lot of different ways," Catelli said. "All I had there was the running coach, and there were all these big-time guys who've won nationals in past years and stuff. I did really bad, honestly. I did terrible, so I'm trying to use (that experience) to do well, because I don't want to be in the same situation. I want to leave everything on the table."
Catelli has been more consistent in the shot this spring, and he believes he could go 60 feet and crack the top five. He described his discus throws as more "bi-polar," saying he could throw 150 on a bad day or be in contention to win with an 180-foot toss.
Women's javelin throwers Drake and Reichert may have the best chance to win an individual title, though.
Drake's 169-foot, 6-inch throw ranks No. 1 nationally and Reichert ranks No. 3. She's also coming of a win at the GNAC Championships.
Wells, a senior, is making her first trip to nationals despite being a provisional qualifier each of her four years at WWU. She's ranked No. 11 in the hammer with a school record of 182-4. She also won her third straight GNAC title two weeks ago.
Donigan enters the national meet ranked tied for 15th in the 100 meter with a WWU-best time of 10.49 seconds.
Steen placed 34th at cross country nationals last season and is ranked No. 5 in the 3,000 steeplechase with a school record and GNAC-winning time of 10:34.40.
Men's javelin throwers Hirst and Haskin are ranked sixth and 17th, respectively.
Hirst's top throw is a 214-8, and Haskin's best is a 205-2.
Vikings Headed to Bryan Clay Invitational and Beach Invitational
WWU competes Wednesday through Saturday at APU (April 18-20) and LBSU (April 20-21)
WWU Earns Team Titles at SMU Jay Hammer Meet
Vikings claim six event wins, four marks added to program top-10 lists on Saturday
Women's Indoor Track & Field 2018 Season in Review
WWU placed 5th at the GNAC Championships, added 26 program top-10 marks (one GNAC/school record)
Men's Indoor Track & Field 2018 Season in Review
The Vikings placed 5th at the GNAC Championships, added 20 program top-10 marks
Vikings Travel to Saint Martin's for Jay Hammer Meet
WWU returns to the road after hosting the WWU Team Invitational last Friday
Vikings Sweep Team Titles at WWU Team Invitational
Three Vikings improve provisional-qualifying marks as WWU competes at home in Bellingham
Track & Field to Host WWU Team Invitational on Friday
WWU welcomes Seattle Pacific, Saint Martin's and British Columbia to Civic Stadium
Raquel Pellecer Named GNAC Female Field Athlete of the Week (Again)
WWU javelin thrower Pellecer earns third GNAC weekly award of the outdoor season
Standout Performances Highlight Saturday's Competition
WWU Track & Field was spread across four events on Saturday in Washington, California and British Columbia
WWU Opens Competition at Stanford, SF State and UBC on Friday
Two Vikings improve provisional qualifiers, Hannah Nienaber adds provisional-qualifying javelin throw
Vikings to Compete at Four Meets During Weekend
WWU travels to the Bay Area, Canada and Tacoma as outdoor season continues at four locations
WWU Posts Strong Performances at Doris Heritage Track Festival
Trio of Vikings improve upon provisional-qualifying marks, WWU adds three program top-10 efforts
Wickliff Honored as GNAC Newcomer of the Year
Junior high jumper and indoor conference champion Tupre Wickliff earns GNAC honor
WWU Returns to Action at Doris Heritage Track Festival
The meet will be held at West Seattle Stadium and is scheduled to begin at 10 am on Saturday
WWU Track & Field and Cross Country Launches Connection Campaign
Alumni are encouraged to fill out the WWU track & field and cross country alumni connection questionnaire