Inside HOKIE SPORTS | Vol. 10 No. 6 | June 2018

42 Inside Hokie Sports Before the game or after , Preston’s Restaurant is a delicious place for a new game-day tradition. Start with our fresh breakfast buffet. Order lunch or dinner from our mouth-watering a la carte menu of seasonal cuisine. And don’t forget the Valley’s best brunch, every Sunday at Preston’s. Make Preston’s Restaurant your game-day tradition. @PrestonsRestaurant @PrestonsIVTSCC 540.231.0120 | 901 Prices Fork Rd, Blacksburg, VA 24061 (inside The Inn at Virginia Tech) Reservations recommended. A delicious game-day tradition. “It was definitely exciting to be a part of that, with all the time that we’ve spent together training,” Ciattei said. “And to get that first national title for Coach Thomas was pretty exciting, too.” “What really has made Vince special is his ability to work through failure,” Thomas said. “He has been patient, but persistent in his approach to the sport. Working so hard at something that has no guarantees of success is so counter-culture these days, but Vince stayed the course in his belief that he could compete, even when the results weren’t good.” Ciattei graduated in May with a degree in engineering science and mechanics—a difficult major that focuses not just on the “what” of engineering, but also the “how” and the “why.” Earning such a degree requires someone to have mathematical skills, with an ability to look introspectively as well. He also received a minor in biomechanics—something that grabbed his interest, as he rehabbed from all his injuries. “My individual problems with stuff like that was a driving force of why I’d like to understand, and I liked learning about and continue to like learning about the mechanics of that sort of stuff,” he said. Now, he gets ready for the next leg in the race, whichever one that may be. He earned a postgraduate scholarship from the ACC for his excellence in the classroom, and he received acceptance into the master’s program at Virginia Tech. But he also wants to continue running and hopes for a professional future in the sport. Since he missed more than a year with injuries, he feels that he hasn’t quite realized his full potential. “It’s sort of crazy to look back to where I was two or three years ago, and see where I am now,” Ciattei said. “I’m where I had hoped I would be, but it took a lot longer than I thought to have a realistic shot of being there.” Looking ahead, his future appears filled with possibilities—running, research, degrees, job options. Ciattei, most certainly, likes the sound of that. Actually, that, for sure, is music to his ears—even if it means keeping his beloved saxophone stored away for a just a bit longer. Ciattei returned to form and gradually returned to his best two events—the mile and the 1,500-meter run. Over the past two seasons, he’s has been nothing short of spectacular. His recent run to success started in cold, snowy South Bend, Indiana last year. In a bit of a stunning upset, he edged Virginia’s Henry Wynne at the finish line to win the gold medal in the mile at the ACC Indoor Track and Field Championships—and Wynne had won the national title in the event the previous year. “I tried to view the race as I wanted to beat everyone,” Ciattei said. “I wasn’t focusing on just me versus Wynne or me versus someone else. Coach and I both knew how he raced. He’s pretty consistent with taking it out and daring anyone to hang with him. In that race, I knew I wanted to be as close to him as possible, so that when he really decided to make his move, I could match it. I think I did a good job of tactically being right on his shoulder the whole time and matching the move on that last lap.” He earned a spot on Tech’s DMR team that ultimately won the silver medal at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field championships, and he carried that run of success into the outdoor season, earning a silver medal behind teammate Neil Gourley in the 1,500 at the ACC outdoor meet and later earning second-team All-America honors in the event at the NCAA Championships. This winter and spring, he has brought home gold medals in both the mile and the 1,500 at the ACC meets, and he ran the leadoff leg of the Tech DMR team that included Greg Chiles, Patrick Joseph and Gourley. Those four won the national championship during the indoor season—the program’s first ever national crown in distance running. Ciattei keeps his DMR national championship trophy on his desk in his room—a constant reminder of what his patience and perseverance has wrought. Dogged D ETERMINATION Continued from page 41