Senior Sam Mancini had played volleyball, basketball, and softball at Loomis Chaffee, and then she tried track and field. She now has multiple school records in the sport: in the javelin, in the 100 meters, and as part of the 4 x 200-meter relay team.
Sam joined the track team in the spring of her sophomore year, sticking to mostly sprints, and set the school record in the 100 meters at the 2022 New England Prep School Track Association Division I Championship meet.
Last season, as a junior, she tried javelin for the first time, breaking the Loomis school record early in the season with a throw of 119 feet, 9 inches.
She bettered that mark to 123-1 in May at the Founders League Championships, where she won the 100-meter hurdles as well as the javelin and was second in the 200-meter dash as the Pelicans captured the team title.
Then on June 18 at the New Balance Outdoor Nationals, she obliterated that javelin mark, throwing a personal-best 141 feet, 5.75 inches. Sam set personal records in five events that day, competing for the Lebron Athletic Club in the pentathlon (which features the 100-meter hurdles, 800-meter run, long jump, high jump, and shot put) as well as the javelin.
She credits much of her success in the javelin to her shoulder strength gained from being a catcher in softball since she was a little kid, working with Loomis throwing coach Rick Tyo, and the support of her father. She tosses around compliments and thank-yous as easily as she heaves that javelin.
“Coach Tyo has helped me a lot, staying extra hours, because the technique is kind of complicated to get down,” Sam said. “And my dad has been really helpful. He made these weighted javelins out of PVC pipes that I would throw in the backyard to strengthen my shoulder. So I when I picked up an actual javelin, it was so much easier to throw.”
Javelin is Sam’s favorite event.
“I have done so well in it, but I know I have a lot of room to grow because I am so new at it,” she said.
Coach Tyo calls Sam “one of those athletes you dream about as a coach.” He said she combines natural ability with confidence and a willingness to work hard, listen, and learn.
“Sam is willing to do what it takes to improve and perfect her delivery,” Rick said. “The time she spends in the fitness center, on the track, and in the field is evident in the way she is able to compete at the highest level.”
Sam has her sights set on competing in a heptathlon, which has seven events (100-meter hurdles, 200-meter dash, 800-meter run, long jump, high jump, javelin, and shot put). She has competed in all of those events plus the 300 hurdles, 400 meters, 4x400 meters, 100 meters, and 4x100 meters at various meets for Loomis. Rules limit Sam to only three individual events per high school meet; there is no heptathlon in the New England prep school league in which Loomis competes.
At the end of last season, girls track head coach Lilian Hutchinson said, “All season Sam has been relentless; during any given meet she could contribute significantly in multiple events.”
Sam finished first at least once in eight individual events.
“Track and field is a unique sport because it is dependent upon yourself, but there is so much support from everyone around you,” Sam said.
Competing in multiple events on the same day also has taught Sam a lesson: Don’t dwell on what just happened. There is another event coming up. “You just have to move forward, keep pushing through it,” she said. “I think that has helped me with my mindset in general. You don’t want to get too high or too low.”
In May, Sam and classmate Jackie Ryckman shared the Loomis Chaffee Outstanding Junior Female Athlete Award, which honors the young woman or women in the junior class “whose achievement is sports best embodies the ideals of the Athletics Department.” The coaches of girls varsity sports vote on the award.
The citation for Sam read in part: “She is the consummate team player who is always there to help her teammates, whether to lend an ear, lighten the mood, or get the job done on the court or track.”
This winter Sam, who already has five varsity letters, will play basketball for Loomis Chaffee and compete in Lebron Athletic Club indoor track meets on weekends. Sam helped the basketball team win back-to-back NEPSAC Class A championships in 2022 and 2023.
After the winter it’s one last outdoor track season for her in a Loomis uniform, and she once again will look to pile up points in multiple events. For the record-keepers, have an eraser handy.
“I came to Loomis for basketball; coach [Adrian] Stewart is great, and I knew the school would push me athletically and academically,” Sam said, “but now with track as my main sport it is awesome that I was able to make the switch. I have grown so much as a person from both basketball and track.”