2 CPP athletes sprint to Italy to compete in U23/U20 Championships

CPP international student-athletes Matteo Madrassi and Alessio Sommacal qualified to compete with the top young track and field athletes in Italy from Sept. 18-20 at the U23/U20 Championships, an annual competition held in Southern Italy for young Italian athletes.

Madrassi qualified for the U23 Championships and Sommacal qualified for the U20 Championships which takes place at the same location but is for Italian citizens 20 years or younger.

In order to qualify, athletes must meet the standards of their specialty set by the Italian Track and Field Association. Sommacal, a freshman hurdler, needed to meet 15.50 in hurdling to qualify. Madrassi, a junior pole vaulter, needed to meet 4.30 in pole vaulting. Madrassi and Sommacal did not face any trouble qualifying for the championships within their age group.

Madrassi never doubted his abilities and knew he would qualify for the championships.

“This season I was ranked at fourth (best pole vaulter), but I was going there aiming for the gold medal,” Madrassi said. “I knew my other opponents were not as strong, so I went there thinking to win.”

Madrassi’s confidence in pole vaulting began seven years ago when his high school physical education teacher saw him performing back flips, front flips and other reckless stunts, so he convinced Madrassi to join the pole-vaulting team.

Chris Bradford, head coach for the cross country/track and field team, noted Madrassi’s high energy and described certain characteristics making him one of the best pole vaulters in Italy.

“He’s got great energy,” said Bradford. “He works very hard and he’s very passionate about his sport.”

Madrassi finished the championship race in fourth place, but still felt he could have done better. After analyzing how he did at the championships he felt that better preparation would have gone a long way.

“Honestly, I worked out hard only once a week, because when I got back here from California, nobody still knew if there was going to be competition or how the season was going to be, so I said, ‘For this season let’s not focus on competition.’ So, I started working more with my dad and I lost sight of track for a little bit,” Madrassi said.

Alessio Sommacal (left) and Matteo Madrassi (right) enjoyed the opportunity to compete at the U23 Championships this fall. (Courtesy of Alessio Sommacal)

Sommacal has not even set foot on campus due to the pandemic, but that did not stop Bradford from describing his potential.

“He definitely got a lot of raw skills that can really translate, and he can be one of the better guys we got on the team, conference, and within the country over the next couple of years,” Bradford said.

Sommacal was born into track and field. He started practicing at the age of 4 as his father and grandfather coached track and field. “The society that I’m in is owned by my grandfather, so it’s a family thing,” Sommacal said, “My father competed in high jump and he was my coach,” Sommacal said.

Sommacal explained he was entering his second year competing in the U20 championship, so his experience helped a lot. Competing in one sport his whole life could have gotten tiresome, but instead his love for hurdles continues to grow.

“I am a very competitive person, so when I am on the track, I feel myself the most,” Sommacal said. “I love my specialty because hurdles is a very strange specialty because it combines a lot of things: speed, strength, ability, and being multitasking is one of my main objective.”

Hurdling can come down to milliseconds, and for Sommacal it was the difference in receiving a medal at the U23 Championships. Sommacal ran 14.37 in the heats, 14.47 in the semifinals and 14.19 in the final. He felt good about the time he put up but wished a could have won a medal.

“I think I did well because I did my personal best of all time,” said Sommacal. “But I got fourth by two milliseconds which kind of upset me because I thought I could be third for the time and gain a medal.”

Sommacal is looking forward to finally practicing with his CPP teammates and explained how he ended up choosing to attend the university.

“One of the biggest reasons I choose Cal Poly was because I knew one person who could help through the process because I am an international student…” said Sommacal referring to Madrassi. “Knowing him … helped me a lot in deciding Cal Poly as the perfect place to continue my academic and athletic career.”

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