On Thursday, June 13, 14-year-old Moorestown native Ryan Casinelli took home a silver medal after completing a 6.16 meter long jump at the 2019 New Balance Nationals Outdoor meet in Greensboro, N.C.
Though Casinelli is a seasoned track and field athlete, competing in the 100- and 200-meter dashes and the 400-meter run, this particular victory is especially impressive considering he just branched out into long jumping this past winter.
He credits his success largely to the efforts of his coaches, Horace Taylor, Stephanie Johnson and Terrance Howard, his long jump coach.
If you ask Howard, however, he’ll tell you Casinelli can add his own hard work and dedication to that equation.
“He’s one of, if not the, hardest-working kids out there as far as being dedicated and committed to his craft,” said Howard.
According to Casinelli, training really ramps up in the months leading up to a national competition. The season starts with general cardio workouts to get each athlete back in shape and becomes more focused as competition day approaches.
“Once we get closer to nationals, we start fixing our speed work and our form. At nationals it’s basically either perfect or you don’t make it,” said Casinelli.
“When I coached him in long jump, I focused a lot on technique, his run and his steps, because for me the long jump is more technical than anything,” said Howard.
In Casinelli’s experience, the initial push getting to the level of physical fitness required to compete in track and field events is the most challenging aspect of training. Athletes have to push themselves past their limits to reach the next level.
Casinelli recalls more than one instance when he and his fellow athletes trained to the point of throwing up.
“You’ve got to train your body to get ready for these races, you’ve got to go through what you’ve got to go through,” said Casinelli.
Training doesn’t stop when you leave the field either, according to Casinelli.
“You’ve got to fix your diet and go home and work on your form, it’s not always at practice. If you really want to fight for that podium, you kind of have to be thinking about it 100 percent of the time,” said Casinelli.
The New Balance Nationals Outdoor competition was a unique experience for Casinelli and one of the largest events he has ever competed in.
“It was pretty amazing, I’ve never experienced anything like that before,” said Casinelli.
Aside from his big win, Casinelli says he really enjoyed meeting like-minded athletes from all over the country and getting to appear on the jumbotron of the BB&T Stadium where the competition took place.
“Standing on the podium with your medal is a great feeling too,” added Casinelli.
Ann Marie Liotta, Casinelli’s mother, was there in the stands to share in and celebrate her son’s victory.
“I can’t even express how proud I am of him because of how much he works at this. I don’t have to ask him if he ate right, if he practiced, I don’t have to remind him of anything. He puts this on himself, this incredible drive I’ve never seen before in other children,” said Reyher. “I wish I had an eighth of that when I was his age.”
Casinelli will be attending Moorestown High School in the fall and plans to continue his athletic career with the school’s track and field team.
“I’m going to try and get that long jump record as soon as I can,” said Casinelli.