Widener athlete becomes national champion at NCAA Track and Field Championships

Mary Allen, Director of Communications
Widener athlete Alex Kristeller on the podium holding his NCAA trophy
Pride athlete Alex Kristeller won the 2022 NCAA weight throw championship. Photo credit: D3photography.com

Widener athlete Alex Kristeller, a sophomore robotics engineering major, was named the national champion in weight throw at the 2022 NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships March 11 at the JDL Fast Track in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. 

Kristeller won the weight throw competition with a school-record throw of 20.39 meters – or nearly 67 feet. He is the first Widener field athlete to win a national title in indoor track and field, and only the second Widener track and field athlete ever to win an indoor national title after runner Macharia Yuot won the 5,000-meter competition in 2005-2006.

He won the event on his sixth and final throw, surpassing his own school record, which he had set on Feb. 11. In the process, he became the Pride’s 27th athlete to earn All-American honors. We caught up with him the day after he became national champion.

Congratulations on this remarkable accomplishment! What were you thinking going into the competition?
Thank you. Going into the competition I was excited and joking around with the other competitors. I try to keep it light and not think about too much technical stuff beforehand because the main goal is to have a good time. 

Athlete Alex Kristeller throwing weight at NCAA competition
Alex Kristeller throwing at the NCAA championships. Photo credit D3photography.com

Tell us about the weight that you throw. How heavy is it and what is the shape?
For indoor track and field, we throw a 35-pound ball in a small harness with a handle on it. 

Tell us about your training regimen? Is it year round? How many hours a day/week do you train?
My coach Tyler Williams says, to get good at throwing the weight “you just have to train hammer.” Hammer is a 16-pound metal ball that is almost four feet in length that is only thrown competitively in the outdoor season. Form is key in any throwing event and while practicing hammer, the form is developed much better than while practicing weight. The tricky part is getting used to the heaviness of the weight for indoors. I do train hammer year round, five days a week, with typically at least two to three hours a day dedicated to training.

Coach Alex Palescandolo and athlete Alex Kristeller on the podium after NCAA win
Coach Alex Palescandolo and athlete Alex Kristeller celebrate Kristeller's NCAA win. Photo credit: D3photography.com

What role did your coaches have in this accomplishment?
I would be nowhere without my coaches. My main hammer coach Tyler Williams is easily one of the best hammer coaches in the country. Along with him, the other throwing coach, Alex Palescandolo, is always helpful with his insight on my other events and in the weight room. Vince Touey, the head men’s Track & Field/XC coach – though not being a specific throws coach – has also been tremendously helpful in giving me all the tools I need for success, whether it be equipment, weight room time, or motivation. Everyone that is a part of the Widener track and field community has been extremely helpful in providing insight and making the overall experience much more enjoyable.

How did you get into the sport?
As a freshman in high school, I tried it for a season and enjoyed it but then transferred to a school that didn't have it. When I came to Widener, I had never planned on doing track but as winter came and football was over, Coach Touey convinced me to come out and try throwing. 

Did you play any other sports in high school, or earlier? 
Growing up and through high school my main sport was lacrosse followed by football. I was also on the wrestling team and tennis team for one season in high school.

What brought you to Widener?
The robotics engineering program was the main reason I came but I knew I had the opportunity to play sports as well, so that was also appealing.

Do you have a favorite athlete, or someone you greatly admire? 
I wouldn't say I have a favorite athlete, but I do watch the current world record holder, the late Yuriy Sedykh, almost every day just analyzing his form and looking for new things. 

How did you celebrate the win?
Lots of chocolate milk and hanging around with the team down in North Carolina.

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