Hoping to get a head start on his first varsity track and field season, Michael Farronato spent the early part of the summer training with the heavier implements he’ll be tossing around when spring finally arrives.
Taking the advice of his father, Mike, he flung a discus (3 pounds, 9 ounces) and a javelin (just over 1.75 pounds) around the family farm near Winfield that were heavier than those he threw as a Lewisburg eighth grader.
Michael Farronato even competed several times in June, essentially to test himself against fellow 15-year-olds and mark his progress. What happened at the end of the month in Durham, N.C., indicated he was on the right track.
Consistent throughout the javelin competition held June 27 at the USATF Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships, Farronato claimed the gold medal in his age group (15-16) with a throw of 121 feet, 6 inches on his last attempt of the championship flight.
All of Farronato’s throws in the preliminaries — 119-2, 120-7 and 120-1 — would have earned him gold in the national event. Even his second effort in the finals (118-7) was better than what runner-up Tyler Wilson of the Cornhusker Flyers wound up throwing (117-3).
Three days later, Farronato finished sixth in the discus (95 feet).
“Just started off the summer trying to get work in for the varsity season so I could do good in districts, but I ended up winning a national championship along the way,” said Michael Farronato, whose personal bests sit at 127 feet (javelin) and 105 (discus).
“So that’s kind of a plus.”
As for the consistency he displayed during his championship effort in North Carolina?
“That’s definitely one of the goals you have to have when you’re throwing, just make sure you’re not having just one bomb go (far),” the 5-foot-10, 140-pounder added.
“You want to be consistent the whole way through.”
“My wife (Angela) was a 25-year track coach also, and we always preach that you can’t control the field but you want to see a baseline,” said Mike Farronato, the Lewisburg assistant track and field coach who spent 15 or 16 seasons fronting the Mount Carmel track program before relocating his family. “Always throw out your worst and your best and the other stats will kind of speak to where you’re at.
“It’s always taking an honest look at yourself,” Mike Farronato added. “When you’re a thrower, you’ve always got to know that you might travel 10 hours to a competition and have a bad one, but statistically you’re not bad. You’ve just got to figure yourself out. Five of his six throws down there were in line and pretty consistent.”
A family affair
Constantly bouncing about Mount Carmel training sessions at The Silver Bowl — even before he began attending school — Michael Farronato gravitated to the throws since his sister (Marisa) and older brothers (Dominic and Dylan) competed in those events.
Dominic Farronato finished third in the PIAA Class AA discus in 2016 as a Lewisburg senior — even though his right elbow was in tatters and needed repair work.
Dylan Farronato never medaled in a throwing event at states, but his 49-second split in the 4x400-meter relay enabled the Green Dragons to claim sixth place in 2018.
Even Angela (Vaughn) Farronato stood on the medal podium at states in 1984 with her Mount Carmel teammates after they finished fourth in the 4x800-meter relay.
“Track was basically my second life when I was in Mount Carmel,” Michael Farronato recalled. “With my mom and dad both being coaches, that was my life after school and (The Silver Bowl) was basically my second home. Same thing when I came to Lewisburg.
“You’re growing up with these older brothers that are really good at track and my mom was a track star when she was in high school,” Farronato added. “My sister, too, did really good in districts one year and just missed states. And then Dominic placing third in the state and Dylan getting a state medal ... it kind of just fell into place.”
Not without plenty of hard work, however.
In addition to his father’s throwing advice — and whatever he’s gleaned from his older brothers — others such as Milton throwing coach Herb Brown and Southern Columbia throwing coach Tom Donlan have played roles in Michael Farronato’s development.
This winter, Michael Farronato expects to make regular pilgrimages to a farm near Liverpool, where Troy Hess operates his remarkably successful Infinity Throwing Club, to get additional throwing repetitions, particularly in the discus.
“Michael’s still wiry yet,” Mike Farronato said of his youngest son, whom he considers at this stage a hybrid of his brothers. “He’s still transitioning his body and we, like my other sons, do a lot of athletic training here that’s non-specific. It’s all going to come together, but I actually think with the discus it’s almost more impressive than the javelin.
“Once he puts his weight and his strength on, I think his discus is actually going to fly. He’s got pretty good, long leverage; he’s got pretty good coordinated effort,” Farronato added. “He’s just got to get more reps under his belt.”
A new challenge
Throwing will be put on hold for the time being since Michael Farronato has just completed the mandatory, week-long heat acclimatization period that all high school football programs must complete before they can transition into the hitting phase of fall practice.
While Farronato expects to play quarterback with the Lewisburg junior varsity, he’s vying for varsity time with the Green Dragons receiving corps and defensive back group. If that sounds familiar, it should since both his brothers played DB in high school.
In fact, Dylan Farronato was quick to commend his younger brother for his national title, and shared his thoughts with his Twitter followers.
“Big shoutout to the little bro on winning nationals in the javelin! Congrats Michael!” tweeted the Penn State freshman defensive back, whose post included a clapping hands emoji and a can’t miss hashtag — #NATIONALCHAMP.
Classmate, training partner and close friend Cam Michaels also offered praise.
“Dylan called me to say, ‘Congratulations,’” Michael Farronato recalled. “He was also with some of the Penn State football players that I was talking to at the time. It was just cool being able to talk to him about it. He was just really happy for me.”
Obviously, Michael Farronato will never forget the first reaction he experienced upon learning he’d mined gold at the USATF Youth Outdoor Track & Field Championships.
“It was almost like I couldn’t stop smiling,” Michael Farronato said. “It was just like, ‘Wow! This actually just happened. I’m the best in the nation at something and no one can take that away from me.’”
Yet despite his sparkling achievement, Farronato is keeping things in perspective.
“Obviously, it’s a big accomplishment but it’s just the beginning,” he said. “I’ve got to keep training more and just get reps in (so I can) try to get a state championship by my senior year.”