By Conor Walsh
---- — There was a time during Gus Margiotta’s time at Gloucester High School that he considered football to be his main athletic focus.
A two-time Super Bowl champion with the Fishermen that also competed on the school’s track and field teams, Margiotta was locked into his football career as an underclassman at Gloucester.
During his junior year, though, things changed for him. After placing third in the shotput at the state outdoor meet at the end of his junior season, Margiotta finally realized his throwing ability could be something that carried him beyond high school.
That shifted focus paid quick dividends, and after graduating from Gloucester in 2010, Margiotta found himself in Flagstaff, Ariz., as a member of Northern Arizona University’s track and field teams.
“Up until my junior year, I was football all the way. I didn’t want to do anything else,” Margiotta said. “I’ve always loved throwing, but when I really noticed that it’s something that I should pursue was at the end of my junior year. I’d gotten third at the all state championships and everyone else there was going to Rutgers, going to Louisville, so I thought, ‘I should try this out.’”
With that increased focus on his throwing, Margiotta quickly began to raise collegiate coaches’ eyebrows. What finally led him to Flagstaff was a trip to the Ironwood Throwers Camp in Spokane, Wash., during his senior year in high school.
A friend of his at the camp was being recruited by Northern Arizona, and mentioned to the coach that Margiotta was looking for a landing spot.
Shortly thereafter, Margiotta contacted the Lumberjacks via email, and within 20 minutes, he got a response and got the ball rolling toward his eventual college career.
It’s been an up-and-down experience thus far for Margiotta at Northern Arizona. The transition from high school to the collegiate ranks is a difficult one for shot-putters, who go from throwing a 12-pound shotput to a 16-pounder.
To help adjust, Margiotta redshirted during the 2010-2011 season. And it sure paid off, when he came out flying last year, establishing himself as the Lumberjacks’ top shot-putter and among the top competitors in the Big Sky Conference.
This season has been a different story, as Margiotta battled injury during the entire indoor season.
“I’m not really happy with my performance this year,” Margiotta said. “This is the first time that I’ve been sidelined with injury in forever. My senior year in football’s the only other time I can remember. I pulled everything in my left calf three separate times. I’d start to throw, have to stop. It kept happening. I was lucky enough to throw in an event and get into the conference championship.”
All things considered, Margiotta’s ninth-place finish at the Big Sky Indoor Championships was impressive considering his injury issues.
That was of little solace for him, though.
“I got ninth. It’s not acceptable for this kind of program,” Margiotta pined. “But there was a lot of positives. It was my first time throwing over 16 meters in a long time, and it reassured that I can still do it heading into the spring.”
Either way, Margiotta’s in the right spot for his sports. Arizona’s a track hotbed, especially for throwers, and Margiotta’s taking full advantage of that.
Beyond that, he’s getting himself an education -- majoring in Journalism and Electronic Media.
And he’s found that a collegiate athletic career coupled with academic responsibilities isn’t the easiest thing to balance.
“I see it more so now because my classes are getting a little bit more difficult,” Margiotta said. “I’ve spent time in the classroom and then I’ve got to study then other classes then practice. But it’s good stress. It keeps me on my toes.”