NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Andrew Cannistraci turned a negative into a gigantic positive when he was cut from the freshman basketball team at Iona Preparatory School. He discovered track and field, and thereafter, a list of collegiate programs a mile long discovered him.
Awed by his performance as a thrower, nearly 30 collegiate suitors lined up, beginning with UCLA during Cannistraci’s sophomore year. Cannistraci, a New Rochelle resident who won the New York State and Federation Indoor Championships in the shot put during the 2015-16 winter track and field season, settled on an athletic scholarship from Northeastern, for whom he’ll throw in the fall.
“I really like Boston, and when I saw the campus and met the athletes on the track and field team, I felt like Northeastern was a perfect fit for me,” said Cannistraci, adding that Bucknell was his runner-up.
After getting cut from the Gaels’ freshman basketball team, Cannistraci was persuaded to join the track and field team by friend and classmate Sam Tobia, who was already throwing the shot put. Cannistraci has excelled ever since, particularly during his senior year.
At the State and Federation Indoor Championships in March, he set – then twice re-set – the Iona Prep shot put mark, with his final throw surpassing 62 feet. His exceptional performance has continued during the outdoor season. Later in March, at the prestigious Mount Carmel Invitational in San Diego, he won the shot put with another school-record throw of 62 feet, 4¼ inches – the second-longest throw ever recorded by a Westchester high school athlete – and finished second in the discus. He currently ranks among the top 20 high school athletes in the shot put nationwide.
Cannistraci, who has a 90 average and excellent SAT scores, is attempting to turn another negative into a positive – as a volunteer for the Food Allergy Research and Education organization. His younger brother Nick has a severe nut allergy, and Andrew is grateful for the opportunity to raise money and awareness.
“I know how hard it is to deal with a nut allergy from watching my brother,” Cannistraci said. “I’m glad to do anything I can to help find a cure.”
He’s also glad he overcame his disappointment and rededicated himself athletically. Three years after getting cut from the freshman basketball team, Cannistraci is now a cut above in the world of track and field.