2023 Gazette Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year: Logan Alfandari, Amherst

By HANNAH BEVIS

Staff Writer

Published: 07-19-2023 1:48 PM

In the summer of 2022, after his freshman season, Amherst’s Logan Alfandari carefully poured a throwing circle in his backyard with his dad’s help. He decided that he wanted to have a place to get some extra practice after making a splash in throws for the Hurricanes track and field team.

He poured some of the extra concrete left over into a few buckets, and set them at carefully measured distances from the circle. He put down five markers – three for discus, two for shot. Two of them were the school records for each event, one was a 200-foot mark for discus, and the final two were national marks.

“I had some pretty lofty goals, I won’t lie, and I did not hit them. I think I set the standard a little bit high,” Alfandari said. “I don’t even know if I expected to throw that far…. but I did accomplish a lot more in terms of placement than I thought I would.”

That’s a bit of an understatement. Alfandari won both the shot put (49 feet, 6½ inches) and discus (157-4) at the Western Mass. Division 1 Championship meet this spring as a sophomore, and earned another title in the discus (157-0) at the MIAA Division 4 Championship. He fell just short of repeating in the shot put at states (52-¾), earning runner-up status, but qualified for both events at the All-State meet.

That in and of itself was a huge accomplishment. Last year, Alfandari went into the state meet with the second-best discus mark in the field but fouled out on all three of his throws. Making it to All-States was a personal goal of his this year, and he accomplished it, placing sixth in the discus (151-1) and eighth in the shot (50-4). He also went on to compete at the New England Championships and New Balance Nationals.

For that reason, Alfandari was an easy choice to be the Daily Hampshire Gazette Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year.

Alfandari started track as an eighth grader just to have something to do, but when he first showed up to practice, he didn’t look like a thrower in the slightest.

Now, his throwing coach Sarah Hickman said he’s built more like a “Greek god in the making” but he first started running sprints before even thinking of picking up a discus or shot. Nobody thought the small, skinny junior high student might one day be one of the best throwers in Western Mass.

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Nobody, that is, except Adawehi Robinson, a prolific thrower and Amherst track alum who was at a practice one day helping out. Robinson saw something in Alfandari, and told him he should try the throws.

“(Alfandari) had shown enough dedication to the throwing events and had enough skillset that we would have him sit in on our varsity practices, because it is rare for an eighth-grader to have that drive and maturity and ability to be coachable,” Hickman said. “I know he looked up a lot to (Robinson), and I think he benefited from seeing talent, someone compete at a high level. I feel like that kind of helped set the hook for him.”

The rest is history.

“I don’t know what he saw in me. I was pretty skinny back then,” Alfandari said.

Despite his size, Alfandari took to the throws like a duck to water, particularly the discus, his favorite event. He won the Western Mass. Division 1 discus title during the 2022 outdoor season with a throw of 132-2. But in the offseason between his freshman and sophomore year, he committed in a major way to getting stronger.

“I gained about 90 pounds from the end of my freshman year to the start of my sophomore year, which helped me build a wider base because I was a toothpick during freshman year,” Alfandari said. “I spent half of my day in the kitchen eating like six meals a day… just be(ing) constantly full and make sure I’m eating the right foods. And it worked… and all the weightlifting helped me keep a constant schedule, so it helped my grades, too.”

The change was astonishing for Hickman to see, but at the same time she knew that Alfandari ate, slept and breathed throwing, so it wasn’t that surprising to see his commitment to getting better. Though the two butted heads a bit his freshman year, they worked together more as a team this year, and as a result, Alfandari kept improving.

Besides the physical and technical part of throwing, Hickman has been emphasizing the mental aspect of the events, staying composed when things don’t always go his way. That’s something Alfandari had to learn the hard way at the end of this season – he strained a pectoral muscle late, and it impacted his performances at New Englands and New Balance Nationals.

But beyond his impressive throwing ability, Hickman is most impressed with how he supports his teammates.

“It’s not just about him, but like the way he values his teammates, I think has been a really beautiful development that I care about. You can throw, you can be great, but if you’re a jerk, that only gets you so far,” Hickman said.

Alfandari still has those lofty goals for himself in the back of his mind, reminded every time he goes outside how much farther he has to go. They might be out of reach for now, but Alfandari knows he has a lot left in him. Hickman described Alfandari’s passion for the sport best.

“He’s a maniac, in a good way,” she said.

FIRST TEAM ALL-STARS

Logan Alfandari, sophomore, Amherst

Joe Boyer, senior, Easthampton

Nick Brisson, junior, Hampshire

Erich Brown, senior, Frontier

Ben Cachiguango, sophomore, Frontier

Aidan Clancy, senior, Belchertown

Aiden Dredge, junior Frontier

Matt Gillis, freshman, South Hadley

Evan Hedlund, eighth grade, Frontier

Jack Kamins, sophomore, Northampton

Theodore King-Pollet, junior, Northampton

Moniha Krouch, sophomore, Amherst

Jaiden Kudelka, junior, Hampshire

Nico Lisle, freshman, Amherst

Adrien Pazmandy, freshman, Frontier

David Pinero-Jacome, senior, Amherst

Fernando Saravia, senior, Frontier

BB Tauscher, senior, Easthampton

Jameson Webber, sophomore, South Hadley

Davis Wheat, junior, Northampton

SECOND TEAM

Brandon Adamson, senior, Belchertown

Trevor Adamson, senior, Belchertown

Inigo de los Reyes, junior, Amherst

Jaden Diaz, sophomore, Holyoke

Peter Elias, senior, Belchertown

Luke Howard, freshman, Frontier

Will Larson, junior, Amherst

Diego Lopez, senior, Amherst

Dylan Lubold, senior, Holyoke

Jack Loughrey, sophomore, South Hadley

Aidan Messier, senior, Belchertown

Jude Mourad, senior, Northampton

Owen Platt, freshman, Amherst

Elijah Quinn, junior, Holyoke

Spencer Reese, senior, Hampshire

Alex Schreiber, junior, Frontier

Aidan Valderrama, junior, Frontier

Sam Woodruff, frehsman, Amherst

Kyle Yanko, junior, Amherst

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Anthony Adams, freshman, South Hadley

Ari Alatalo, freshman, South Hadley

Ian Burt, junior, Frontier

Javion Cabrera, sophomore, Frontier

Vinnie Calvanese, senior, South Hadley

Raymond Colon, sophomore, Holyoke

Brady Currier, junior, South Hadley

Maxwell Dopp, junior, Easthampton

Brody Dugger, Belchertown

Landen Ellsworth, junior, Easthampton

Ben Gillis, freshman, South Hadley

Liam Howard, sophomore, Belchertown

Zach Jones, junior, Hampshire

Benjamin Les, sophomore, Belchertown

Carter Masse, senior, Belchertown

Edward Mieczkowski, junior, Frontier

Jhendry Payamps Cruz, junior, Holyoke

Miguel Pinero-Jacome, senior, Amherst

Oscar Schiff, freshman, Hampshire

Gianni Soucy, senior, Easthampton

Jack Storm, junior, Frontier

Hannah Bevis can be reached at hbevis@gazettenet.com. Fol low her on Twitter @Hannah_Bevis1.

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