Thrower Tom Matta helped the Carnegie Mellon men’s track and field team place eighth overall at the Western Pennsylvania Championships on Saturday, April 1, by finishing third in the hammer throw with a throw of 48.58 meters and seventh in the shot put with a throw of 13.88 meters.

Matta also holds the indoor track and field school records in the shot put (15.14 meters) and in the 35 pound weight (17.08 meters) and the outdoor track and field school record in the hammer throw (51.06 meters).

The Tartan recently had the chance to speak with Tom about his success on the track and field team.

Tartan: Why do you compete in field events, and when did you start?
Matta: I started throwing back in high school, and this is my eighth year of throwing. I love the competition, the power-training, and the feeling of getting better inch by inch.

T: What is the hardest part about being a student athlete at Carnegie Mellon?
M: Most people assume it’s balancing the workload. But that’s not true. Carnegie Mellon student athletes have developed excellent time management skills over the years. The hardest part about being a student athlete at Carnegie Mellon is working hard for a whole year for individual or team success and then having the student body either not hear about it or not care. But that’s slowly changing due to student organizations like the Carnegie Clan and the SAAC [Student Athletic Advisory Council] — and it’s an exciting time to be a part of Carnegie Mellon athletics.

T: What is the best part of being a student athlete?
M: The best part is walking with the team through the airport to our gate, a mass of burgundy warm-ups. Everyone in the terminal watches us. It’s pretty cool.

Other good parts are beating kids from Washington University and Case Western University. I hate those schools. Oh yeah, Chicago University sucks too — beating kids from Chicago is pretty fun.

T: Where is your favorite place to compete and why?
M: There’s no place like home. Gesling is a beautiful stadium and a great place to throw. There’s nothing like a Saturday morning track meet, seeing the sun slowly rise over the University Center, and getting to throw stuff.

Most people don’t know about that big cage on the intramural field. That’s where we throw the hammer and discus. During my freshman year, one of the older guys bet our coach that he couldn’t throw a full-size car tire over the top of the cage. He grabbed it, one-turned, grunted, and threw it over the top. It must have been over 25 feet. Each dent in that cage is a different story.

T: What is your most meaningful accomplishment to date?
M: Last year I was the Indoor Conference Field Athlete of the Year, because I won both the shot put and the weight at the same meet. I had two huge personal bests and was on top of the podium twice at the New Balance Armory in New York City. I’ll never forget it, or that reuben I had at the deli down the street. It was incredible.

T: To what do you attribute your success in track and field?
M: Hard work in the off-season, focused in-season practice, and desire most of all. If you don’t want it, you’ll never get it.

T: What do you do in your spare time?
M: I like to help out with the Carnegie Clan. The Carnegie Clan is a student organization that puts on events before and during home athletic competitions.

The Carnegie Clan runs the Homecoming Chili Cook-Off every year and other tailgating events and giveaways. We’re bringing back the “Guns of Carnegie” arm-wrestling competition this year on April 29. So start cleaning your guns, it’s going to be a big show!

T: What is your favorite sport other than track and field?
M: Football, because there’s nothing better than black and gold in the fall, baby!