It wasn’t a complete surprise that Amherst track star Gianni Catalano made Kennesaw State University his No. 1 pick. The Owls saw the most potential in the Comet star and made Catalano the best offer.
Kennesaw State offered the middle-distance standout a full athletic scholarship to attend the Georgia school, which is located 20 miles north of Atlanta.
Still, it wasn’t an easy process.
With track season coming on the heels of basketball and with cross country season coming before that, finding the time to head south for a campus visit was tough.
Catalano visited Kennesaw State on the weekend of June
9-10, after an earlier postponement. The chemistry at KSU was perfect. As a result, he signed his letter-of-intent Wednesday night in front of high school coaches, parents and friends at Amherst’s school library.
After taking only third place at the Amherst regional, Catalano was a surprise second-place finisher in the Division I 800 meters at June’s state meet with a time of 1:53.86. Catalano’s performance was the highest finish by an Amherst boy for that distance since 1963, when Ken Greer won the Class AA title.
Catalano was also a three-time winner in his specialty, the first to do that in the Southwestern Conference since 1939. He earned MVP honors in the SWC as he led the Comets to their third straight conference title and 10th league crown since 1987.
Catalano won a total of eight SWC titles in his career, including two wins in the 400.
“Kennesaw made me the best offer and their head coach (Don McGarey) expressed the most sincere interest,” said Catalano, who stands
6-foot-1 and weighs 162 pounds. “I liked some of the other programs I visited, but I couldn’t go where I couldn’t afford. Kennesaw’s accommodations were impressive.”
Catalano also visited Ashland, Kent State and Akron. Texas Christian also expressed an interest.
“It’s been a great four years at Amherst,” Catalano said. “I’m going to miss racing against Dan White (of Brunswick). My teammates were awesome. This past season was especially memorable, especially winning the conference title in the last event. Everybody (in the 1,600 relay) stepped up and had a PR (personal record).”
Catalano was a two-time state qualifier in the 800, finishing 13th as a junior. He was also a 2005 state qualifier as a member of the 3,200 relay.
“I’m definitely going to miss Scott (Snyder), Ms. (Darline) Elsasser, Dorian (Green), Michelle (Kamczyc), Rob (Glatz) and all my other coaches,” Catalano said.
Catalano also lettered in cross country and basketball for the Comets. He was team MVP in basketball and played in the Lorain County Senior All-Star basketball game.
Catalano, who graduated with a 3.2 grade-point average, plans to major in exercise science.
Kennesaw is currently in the middle of a four-year probationary period. The Owls will move from Division II to Division I beginning with the 2009-10 school year. KSU’s men track team finished fifth at the A-Sun Outdoor Conference championships in May.
Contact Paul Heyse at 329-7135 or email@example.com.