In a showdown between Lackawanna Track Conference Division I unbeatens, Abington Heights senior Antonio Maletta won four individual events to lead the Comets past Scranton Prep, 89-56. He won the 100-meter hurdles in 14.8 seconds, tying the school record set by Billy James in 1989. He also won the 300-meter hurdles in 40.5 seconds; the long jump in 20 feet, 2¼ inches; and the triple jump in 41 feet, 2½ inches.
Here is more from Maletta’s Athlete of the Week interview:
Other sports I play: Soccer. Varsity for four years.
Favorite teams: Football, I like to support the Atlanta Falcons. For soccer, I like Juventus out of Italy. In hockey, the Detroit Red Wings. I like the way their jerseys look.
Athletes I admire: Ayden Owens, who’s at USC right now. He just set the national record for the 20-year-old division in the decathlon. When I was coming up, Alex Long from Western Wayne was someone I kind of looked up to. He was a 300 hurdler that I surpassed his district record in junior high. Also Allyson Felix. She’s an outstanding female athlete who’s set tons of records.
Sydney McLaughlin from Kentucky as well.
Favorite food: Pasta. I am Italian. Any type.
Superstitions and rituals: Before meets, I have to be wearing white socks. Then I have to lace my shoes left first, the right and double-knot both. I always tuck my chain and my jersey in before I get down into the (starting) blocks.
Three people I’d like to have dinner with: Michael Norman, a 400 runner from USC; Michael Johnson from the U.S. track team; and my late grandfather Antonio Maletta. He passed away in 2013 and I would really like to have one more dinner with him.
Describe your win in the 110 hurdles and tying the school record. It definitely meant a lot to me. The 110 is a race I wasn’t always so great at. I wasn’t quick enough out of the blocks or tall enough to get over those higher barriers. But getting a win there and doing it in such a big way with me and also my running mate (Shervin Mokhtari) was important to me.
Had you been getting close to the record? The 110 definitely wasn’t in my sights until recently. I was focused more on the 300 and conditioning for that. Getting more endurance work than speed work. So coming out and tying that record was surprising for me. I had a really good race. I was pushed more than I have been all season. It definitely was great.
How did setting the record so early in the meet pump you up for the rest of your events? I got my jumps in before the 300. Getting hyped up for a jumping event and excited to explode off the board is one of the crucial parts of it. Then coming to the 300 hurdles, running a good time there and getting first and second with my teammate (Mokhtari) was a really good way to cement our spot in the meet.
This was the first time since sophomore year you competed in the long and triple jumps. Do you think you will be doing more jumping events this season? There’s definitely a lot of good jumpers coming out of Scranton and Delaware Valley. I think I will at districts, just to get as many points as we can for the team. We’re always trying to compete for district titles.
How does your performance in the meet against Scranton Prep set you up for the postseason? Getting that win against Prep, against a rival, and running good times will get everyone energized and ready to give it their all.
What are your thoughts and goals for the rest of the season? My coach asked me the same exact question. He said, We’re doing pretty well now. What do you think we can do to give you even more of an advantage coming into districts? I obviously want to make it to states and place well at states. But coming into districts, I want to push my teammates so they can be the best they can be. I’m really looking at the team right now. I was captain last year and I really pushed that team mentality and that’s what I’m still trying to push here (this year).
You are continuing your athletic and academic career at the University of Rhode Island. What made you decide to go there? I made official overnight visits to Duquesne, Monmouth and day visits to Shippensburg and Binghamton. My last visit was to Rhode Island and I was just taken away by the attitude of the team and coach John Copeland. He’s had upward of 20 conference championships in the Atlantic 10. The way he conducts himself made me sure I wanted to go there. It’s also a beautiful campus. What do you plan to major? I would look to study business. I think I’m going to go in undeclared to see what I’d like to do. I do have an interest in management or administration.