BY MICHAEL KELLY
CLIFTON PARK — Before one of his final shot put attempts during the Feb. 5 Suburban Council throws-only meet at Shenendehowa High School, Niskayuna senior Angelo Cavallaro crouched behind the throwers circle in concentration.
Then, he hopped up, and looked at his fellow throwers.
“Hey,” he boomed out, waving his arms. “Let’s get something going.”
And, his competitors did, clapping and making noise at Cavallaro’s request. After a few seconds, the crowd watching got in on the act, too, and the fun continued through Cavallaro’s throw.
After the shot landed, the crowd went quiet and it was the Niskayuna senior’s turn to whoop it up. Spurred on by the extra noise, an excited Cavallaro achieved a new personal-record toss of 44 feet, 4.0 inches — his first-ever throw farther than 43 feet, 8.0 inches.
The toss was good enough to net Cavallaro a third-place finish at the event, which Shenendehowa’s Michael Jeffers won with a throw of 50 feet, 10.0 inches.
Cavallaro, a gregarious personality, has come into his own with his sport this winter. His Feb. 5 throw pushed him up to a No. 8 ranking this season in Section II through Feb. 9, an unthinkable placement for Cavallaro not too long ago.
During the 2013-14 season, Cavallaro hit a then-PR of 42 feet, 8.0 inches at the second meet of the indoor season. The throw, though, ended up haunting Cavallaro more than helping him.
“That whole entire year after that, during indoor and outdoor, I didn’t PR again,” he said. “It was disappointing.”
After a junior year of lackluster performances by his standards, the senior entered this season wanting to “do something,” he said, and his head coach said Cavallaro has followed through with one of the best indoor throwing seasons in recent school history.
“He’s a year older, so he’s grown and he’s gotten stronger,” said Jason DeRocco, the Silver Warriors’ coach. “But, also, he’s a senior now, and he understands hard work and dedication pay off. He’s taking it more seriously.”
That’s only in his training, though, as Cavallaro likes to have a good time when he competes. Earlier this season, the senior noticed at an invitational that competitors were cheering on one another during a high jump event; he decided to seek help from his fellow throwers at a subsequent meet, and the excitement that day helped him to his then-PR of 43 feet, 8.0 inches.
“He got everyone around the cage yelling and screaming, and then he popped it,” DeRocco said.
“That was probably my favorite throw I’ll ever have,” Cavallaro said.
The senior said it was a natural move to bring the tactic to the throwing event. Most of the throwers, he said, have a strong bond with each other.
“We’re a close-knit family,” he said. “We’re not the gazelles on the track, the kids getting all the attention.”
Cavallaro’s next competition comes Feb. 15 at the Suburban Council Championships. After a strong winter season, the senior will enter the shot put event as one of the contenders to win the title.
“He’s right there with the big dogs,” DeRocco said.