By Mike Zummo
Reilly Mazzetti has always liked to run.
When he was a young child, he ran everywhere, and he said it was always a lot of fun. He built strong connections with people that ran, and he wanted running to be a part of his life as he grew up.
Now, the 2021 Wallkill Senior High School graduate will continue running as on July 30 it was announced that he will continue his track and field career at Division I High Point University in High Point, NC.
High Point, however, wasn’t always on his radar, but after talking to his father about where he should apply, then High Point was brought to his attention.
“I looked into the team and into the school as a whole and I decided that was going to be one of the top three choices of mine,” Mazzetti said.
He chose High Point before the track component came together as he had already committed to attend the school academically. Then when he went on a recent tour of the school, he had a chance to talk to the track team’s coaches and discussed his times and goals, and from there they determined that he was a good enough athlete to be part of their program.
It’s been a rough two years to be a spring sport athlete due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which hit in March 2020 and continues to somewhat linger as the 2021-22 school year approaches, but outside of school, he’s been running with some stiff competition as a member of the Newburgh Elite Track Club since his sophomore year.
He was part of an indoor 4x400 team that won a championship at the Adidas Indoor track championships in February with a time of 3:27.50, which he did with two Newburgh runners and a runner for Cornwall.
He also said High Point coach Mike Esposito runs the team in a similar fashion as Newburgh Elite coach Malcolm Burks.
“I believe (Wallkill and Newburgh Elite) prepared me tremendously,” Mazzetti said. “They taught me to have a very strong mindset on the track and in the classroom, and they taught me about teamwork.”
Mazzetti tends to run events from the 200-meter dash up to the 600-meter dash, classifying him as a sprinter and middle-distance runner. He’s also getting workouts from Shamoya Pruitt, High Point’s sprint coach. He expects to be running the 400 and 500 meters in college.
“She’s building me up in terms of my strength and endurance right now,” Mazzetti said.
It’s also about keeping the right mindset on the track. The mind doesn’t do any work when he runs the 200-meter dash. That race is a matter of running as fast as he can for the entire distance. He has said nervousness can creep in during the back half of the longer races, as they require more strategy and heart.
“There’s definitely that threshold that you’re going to need to get through at some point in the race, and that always definitely scared me,” Mazzetti said.
Many athletes of the last two seasons have seen the COVID-19 pandemic as a hindrance to their ability to be recruited, however, Mazzetti feels as though it may have helped.
He said he may not have been able to run at Adidas Nationals if the pandemic didn’t affect the normal flow of the seasons, he may not have gotten the training that brought him to High Point.
“If there wasn’t COVID, I wouldn’t have left New York at all for the indoor season,” Mazzetti said. “I traveled to many different states for this indoor season.”
When he arrives at High Point later this month, he was told to expect training to begin immediately as he prepares for his freshman season, scheduled to begin this winter.
While he’s looking to mix with High Point’s talent, he’ll miss the connections he made running locally.
“I’m definitely going to miss competing with my friends from Newburgh,” Mazzetti said. “My friends from Wallkill and I’ll definitely miss my coaches, and definitely miss home in general.”