An athlete competing in the pentathlon at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor, Zack Carifa had a busier day than most competitors at the prestigious meet.
Carifa, a Greenwich High School senior, competed in five events at the national meet Saturday in Philadelphia – the 110-meter hurdles, shot put, long jump, high jump and 1500-meter run, all of which the pentathlon features.
And when his non-stop day was finished, Carifa’s overall performances gave him a spectacular second-place finish in the country and All-American honors.
Impressive efforts in all five events enabled Carifa to total 3,221 points, good for the silver medal in the Pentathlon event at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor. The pentathlon featured the 10 premier high school athletes that compete in the five events comprised of the pentathlon in the country.
“It feels great, because it’s such a great way to cap off these past four years,” Carifa said. “It really feels good to finish on top and it’s the pinnacle of my career at high school.”
Ian Szemcsak from East Rochester, N.Y., was the pentathlon champion, finishing with 3,298 points. John Zelker from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., followed Carifa with a third-place finish.
In the 110-meter hurdles at the New Balance Nationals Outdoor, Carifa finished second with a time of 15.49 seconds.
“I hit a few hurdles, but I was really happy with the result there,” Carifa said. “The pentathlon I ran earlier, I ran a 15.91, so I improved my time and it put me in a great standing right out of the gate.”
The shot put saw Carifa had the fourth-best throw (36 feet, 3 inches).
“The shot put is one of my weaker events,” Carifa said. “The entire season I had been throwing my best throw in warm-ups, but not in competition. I had to get in the right head space and focus.”
Carifa was also fourth in the long jump (20-9).
“The long jump has been one of my stronger events, throughout the season,” he said. “My first jump was really good. I was really happy with the result there, it kept me in good standing.”
In the high jump, Carifa finished in a three-way tie for first place (6-0 3/4). Carifa ran a 5:01.01 in the 1500-meter race, good for seventh place.
“During high jump I felt my hamstring start to cramp up a little bit,” Carifa said. “My pace was good, then after first lap, my hamstring started to cramp up and I had to really slow down.”
Still, Carifa put forth a stellar effort in the 1500, contributing to his overall-second place finish, earning him the silver medal and All-American accolades.
“This season I was geared toward the state decathlon and I felt I could maybe do nationals for this,” he said. “I did this one instead and it was really fun.”
Carifa enjoys the dynamic of competing in the pentathlon, which has 10 of the same athletes competing against each other all day in the five events.
“It was a good group of guys and it’s not just one event and you’re done,” he said. “You’re with that group of guys one day or two days. It’s a marathon event, because you have to be good at every event. In the pentathlon, if you have one weakness and you don’t do well in one event, you’re done. Being together with everyone for the day, you become friendly with them.”
Carifa was named co-MVP of the Cardinals’ outdoor track and field team, along with fellow senior Zachary Jelinek. He will attend the University of Colorado in the fall, where he is thinking about competing for the school’s men’s track and field team.
“Competing on the team here at Greenwich, it was the best sports season I’ve been a part of,” Carifa said. “Winning FCIACs for the first time in 46 years was special and I’m glad we got it with coach (Jeff) Klein, because he was a great coach. It was an amazing way to cap off this four year journey.”