Nick Pisciotta knows a thing or two about centripetal force. Lately, his daily workload finds the Commack senior surrounded by the concept.
He isn’t working on an Albert Einstein-esque experiment or chained to a desk in the science wing of the high school. No, he’s in the weight throw circle, searching for ways to throw his way to a state championship.
While that goal is about two months away, smaller goals have begun to bear fruit. He’s already thrown his way into the prestigious Millrose Games, the weight throw portion of which is scheduled for Feb. 13. He earned that invitation by throwing a personal-best 70 feet, 4 3/4 inches to win at the Millrose Trials, held Jan. 8 at the Armory in Manhattan.
It was the farthest throw in the state and the sixth-farthest throw in the country this season as of Friday, according to milesplit.com.
“At school we’ve been really focusing on my technique and trying to throw as far as I could for that meet, because qualifying for the Millrose Games was a really big goal of mine,” Pisciotta said. “We made it a point to try and do really well at the meet.”
And that’s where the idea of centripetal force comes in. The physics term, which describes a force that "acts on a body moving in a circular path and is directed toward the center around which the body is moving" is exactly the type of thing that Pisciotta is trying to achieve in the circle. He tries to extend his arms more as he turns, thus giving the ball more leverage and distance.
“In practice, we were working on pushing the weight out and making sure that I get the full rotation on the finish, which really contributed to the additional three or four feet,” Pisciotta said. “…When I push the weight out, it’s really letting my arms go looser and looser each time, so they extend more out. That gives the ball more leverage, so it goes further.”
This is Pisciotta’s second year tossing the weight, and first throwing it with a three-turn technique – that is, rotating three times in the circle before letting it fly.
“The third turn gives you more power,” Pisciotta said. “So, that equal more distance.”
With more precise turning and a better understanding of how to move the weight before release, longer distances are in the offing.
"My technique is much better,” Pisciotta said. “When you do turns, they’re supposed to be tighter and closer together. Now, my turns are tighter. With the weight, you’re supposed to have a high orbit. The orbit’s supposed to go up every turn. So, now I’m starting to get that.”
Pisciotta said he still has work to do as he prepares for the next month of competition, the most consequential on the indoor track and field schedule. With league championships, county championships and state qualifiers all scheduled before the Millrose Games weight throw, he is primed for the postseason crunch.
“Right now, I’m going to start to work on staying straight in my throw,” Pisciotta said. “I’m dipping my left shoulder, which is not allowing me to get my full power out of my throw. That’s going to be something that we’re going to work on.”
On the girls side, Hewlett’s Kayley Ragazzini placed second at the trials with a 49-foot, 6 1/4-Inch throw to qualify for the Millrose Games.