Friends battle at Big East track meet

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. — Paul Mongone and Ed Hausdorf had baseball dreams as kids. Mongone, a Fresh Meadows native, tried out for the St. Francis Prep baseball team only to be turned away while Hausdorf from Bellerose turned out to be a pretty good high school catcher for Archbishop Molloy.

But their diamond dreams soon turned into a javelin reality. On a whim both decided to give it a shot and both soon learned they were quite good at it.

A couple of years later, the Big East Championships at Bauer Track and Field Complex on the Rutgers University campus served as a venue for a reunion of sorts for Mongone and Hausdorf Sunday. While they competed for themselves and their schools, each said they were also rooting for their old friend.

“We competed against each other in high school and we see each other every six months or so,” Mongone said. “When we do, we coach each other. It’s fun.”

As was the case throughout high school, Mongone got the better of the friendly rivalry as the Rutgers junior took second place in the javelin with a toss of 64.80 meters while Hausdorf, a St. John’s sophomore, was fifth with a throw of 62 meters. Barry Flicker from Villanova repeated as Big East champion with mark of 65.40 meters.

“When you’re shooting for the top spot and you don’t win, it’s a disappoint­ment,” said Mongone, who earned All-Big East honors. “Afterward you realize you did do well and you gave your best. Some days, it doesn’t happen. Some days, you’re totally on and miss one little thing, like today.”

Added Hausdorf: “I would’ve liked him to win, I was hoping for it. He looked really good, but the wind wasn’t working well.”

Hausdorf was also pleased with his personal best mark of 62 meters.

“I moved up a spot from last year, but the field has gotten a lot tougher this year,” he said. “I just went out there and tried to keep up with them.”

Immediately after competing in the javelin, Hausdorf went after the Big East hammer crown. Amazingly, he again recorded a personal best mark, as his throw of 55.04 meters was good enough for fourth place. Sean Flynn from Georgetown won the crown with a toss of 64.16 meters.

“To be able to [throw a personal record] in two events, I don’t know how I did it,” he said. “I had no energy left but the whole atmosphere got me revved up.”

Javelin was the last thing on Mongone’s mind when he entered St. Francis Prep in 1994. He wanted to play baseball, he wanted to play basketball and he wanted to play volleyball. But he was cut from tryouts because of his small frame. When he heard about track and field tryouts, Mongone figured he’d give it a shot as well.

And what a decision it turned out to be. Mongone quickly excelled at javelin and he capped his high school career with the CHSAA title his senior year, defeating Hausdorf, who placed second in the javelin in all four years of high school.

“I became really good in high school — it became my passion in a way,” Mongone said. “I really enjoy the individuality of the sport. You don’t have to worry about someone making an error behind you.”

Mongone, who grew out of his slight frame and today looks more like a football tight end, walked on to the Rutgers track and field team, but he quickly earned a scholarship. Under the watchful eye of Tony Naclerio, a U.S. Olympic track coach in 1996, Mongone has become one of the top javelin throwers in the country.

After stellar freshman and sophomore years, Mongone began his junior year in style by winning the University of Miami Invitational with an NCAA provisional mark of 69 meters.

“It’s the most exciting feeling to know you’re among the elite in the country,” said Mongone, who is ranked 13th in the nation. “I got of a lot of personal gratification knowing how hard I’ve worked. It’s also a way to give back to my coaches.”

Javelin was also the furthest thing on Hausdorf’s mind as a freshman at Molloy in 1998. He was just worried about gunning the ball from behind the plate to second base. But he thought he’d give javelin and hammer a try and before long it became a full-time sport rather than a part-time hobby.

“I liked it and I kept with it,” he said. “Then when I found out you could get college scholarships for this, I figured, ‘Hey, I’ll go for it.’”

Hausdorf broke the St. John’s record in the javelin with a mark of 59.95 in his freshman year. He also placed sixth in the hammer and seventh in the javelin at the USA Juniors and had a strong outing at the Empire State Games in Binghamton last summer.

“I have a lot to look forward to, I’d like to throw 70 meters next year,” Hausdorf said. “I know it’s a rough goal to reach, but I hope to do it. I’m going to train a lot during the summer and during the indoor season.”

Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.

Posted 7:06 pm, October 10, 2011
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