The sound of John Cioffredi’s liftoffs could be heard across Pelham’s Harris Family Track and Field Complex last weekend during the NHIAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships.
Lebanon teammates and fans clapped in unison, their collective cadence increasing in a countdown awaiting Cioffredi’s ascension. The muscular senior soared, taking first in the high jump and long jump before concluding his day’s work with second-place finishes in the shot put and triple jump. He tallied 36 of his team’s 88 points as the Lebanon boys secured the state title.
“I really draw energy from the crowd, especially when competing under pressure,” said Cioffredi, who qualified in all four events for Saturday’s NHIAA Meet of Champions at Londonderry High School.
This is the senior’s fourth straight trip to the state meet, where, barring a catastrophe, he’ll earn at least one berth in the New England Interscholastic Championships for the fourth straight year. He plans to feed off spectators’ support again.
“I can feel them getting just as excited as I do,” he said. “Their involvement really plays a factor in achieving height and distance.”
Committed to the University of Vermont, John will be the fourth and last of the Cioffredi siblings to compete at the college level.
For more than a decade now, Ruth and William Cioffredi have made a June habit of watching their children succeed at the Meet of Champions and the New England meet. Anna was the New Hampshire Gatorade Track and Field Athlete of the Year and a New England champion for two years before competing for Boston College. Next was Tess, a middle-distance runner and hurdler. She went on to captain the Vermont track and field team. Then came Michaela, who ran the half-mile in the Meet of Champions for four seasons before heading to Ithaca College.
“I took up track following my sisters,” said John. “Once I started competing, I developed a real passion for the sport, seeing improvement in myself and my body. And I really get caught up in the team aspect. I love the camaraderie.”
One of the youngest Cioffredi’s biggest challenges has been selecting events. Rules limit athletes to four, otherwise he would have considered throwing the javelin and discus before competing in the hurdles or the 200-meter relay at the Division II meet.
“I’ll do any event that puts the team in a position to succeed,” he said.
During the past three winters, Cioffredi competed in both indoor track and field and varsity basketball.
In the spring, he trains about 15 hours a week, running a couple of hours a day, lifting weights and then performing interval drills and practicing each event.
His high school personal bests: 6 feet, 6 inches in the high jump; 42 feet, 11 inches in the triple jump; 21-1 in the long jump 21-1; and 48-7.5 in the shot put. All came last Saturday during Lebanon’s march to the DII state title, so he appears to be peaking at the right time.
As for the details of those leaps, jumps and throw, Cioffredi’s at a loss.
“It’s over so fast,” he said. “When I look back, I can remember adrenaline pumping through my body as I make my approach. I can hear the clapping. It’s all very intense. Then the screen goes black and comes back when I’m lying on the mat or in the sand pit. I instantly know whether I’ve succeeded or failed.”
His father records each attempt on video, enabling his son to analyze his performances and determine where he might improve.
“I love it,” Cioffredi said. “It’s all about, how high can you go?”