St. Joe Sea trio make their move
Alex Civitano’s first impulse is one of gratitude. Civitano, whom Staten Island St. Joseph by the Sea coach Chris Mancusi calls “one of the toughest runners I’ve ever coached” is talking graciously about running, but it sounds like he is talking about family.
“Honestly, it was like, life-changing,” said Civitano, a 2011 graduate, of his time at Sea. “Going away, going to the big meets, even past the times, just going through it with the same people, it’s something I’m sure I’ll never get again.”
Civitano will depart for Boston University soon. His twin brother, Adam, has already left for college, at Auburn (Ala.) University. Brown University will take Meena Farid, a top thrower, away from his Staten Island roots shortly.
The three athletes formed an unlikely bond as core members of Sea’s 2011 NYCHSAA indoor championship team. And it started on a basketball court.
On the 2009 Sea sophomore basketball team Adam and Alex were starters. Farid, now 6-2 and 245 pounds, was a part-time center.
“During sophomore year we would do cross country workouts and then go to basketball practice,” said Adam Civitano. “We’d be complaining all week of our legs being tired.”
Ironically, Farid owed his start in track and field to hoops.
“When I was a freshman on the basketball team it was mandatory to do cross country,” said Farid. “I was a big guy; I wasn’t very good. But my cross country coach at the time, Dan Kelley, said that I’d be good at the throws.”
He was good, winning the discus throw at the Staten Island Freshman championships.
As junior year began, a decision loomed. The three athletes loved basketball and track, but could not do both.
“We weren’t getting enough out of either sport,” said Adam Civitano. “Junior year we kind of sat down, thought about it and realized we could only do one (sport). Track was kind of taking over.”
“We definitely talked it out together,” said Farid. “It was kind of a group decision.”
The 2009-2010 indoor season that followed was a watershed for Sea. The Civitanos combined with Daniel Zaccariello and Nick Italiano to run 7:52.65 in the 4x800 at the Nike Indoor Nationals in Boston for fourth place and All-America honors.
Farid’s growth was steady. He studied film with Mancusi to find inconsistencies in his technique.
“My junior year goal (in the shot put) was 50 feet, because that was the place where college coaches told me they started recruiting and offering scholarships,” said Farid. “I hit 50 feet for the first time at the Loucks Games (in May).”
Farid won the NYCHSAA shot and discus titles outdoors. Adam Civitano emerged as one of the state’s top 400-meter hurdlers, placing fifth at the State Federation meet in 55.67. The 4x800-meter relay, featuring both Civitanos, qualified for the States, as well.
“That was a tremendous year,” said Mancusi. “The positive thing after that was that they were all battle-tested. I think their experience was a big part of why we did so well at Sectionals.”
The following winter Sea ended Monsignor Farrell’s 10-year run of NYCHSAA, or sectional, indoor titles, backed by the trio and the rise of hurdler Bobby Mirfield. The 4x800 qualified for the Millrose Games for the fourth straight year. Farid won the indoor CHSAA Intersectional shot put title, followed by an outdoor discus title.
A once-wrenching decision was looking up.
“It was very hard to give basketball up,” said Adam Civitano, whose 54.15 in the 400 hurdles is No. 5 all-time in the CHSAA. “It worked out. Going to junior year All-Americans, it was a phenomenal move.”
“The decision to make a total commitment to track was difficult, but I definitely think it paid off,” said Farid, who’ll do the shot, discus, and hammer at Brown. “I think it was definitely a good move.”