The men’s and women’s track and field teams may have finished 4th and 5th in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championships respectively, but that did not stop twins John and Christine Griffith from putting on a show on shot put, javelin and other events.
Starting with the youngest of the two, John Griffith just completed his freshman year at Montclair State University. Even with the pandemic restricting a lot of the things to do on campus, he mostly enjoyed his time on campus, or really “off” campus, and the connections he has made so far with other people.
“It was a little bit challenging mentally due to not being in person and not being with the full team, but I really tried making the most of it,” John Griffith said. “I texted the guys as much as I could, practiced a lot and I put in as much work as I could to make it worth it.”
For John Griffith, track and field was not love at first sight. All the way back in middle school, it took him a while to find that sport he could truly call his favorite. With his older sister eventually getting into the same sport, it was like destiny was fulfilled.
“I was playing a lot of sports back in middle school, but I didn’t have my heart set on a specific one,” John Griffith said. “But then my mom told me to try out for track since Christine [Griffith] was doing it when she was in high school. I wasn’t super passionate about it back then since I was more into baseball than track, but then in my freshman year of high school, it finally clicked. I joined the winter track team and started throwing and it was then when I fell in love with the sport. I put all of the other sports aside and put everything I had into throwing.”
In the shot put, you are fully focused on throwing a big, metal ball as far as you can over your opponents’, so it makes sense to see where John is coming from.
In his freshman year at Montclair State, John Griffith has done well. He placed first in shot put in the NJAC Championships and in multiple other events throughout the season, even finishing first in discus in the same Ramapo mini-meet. It is clear he is destined for great things in his next three years as a Red Hawk.
“John [Griffith] has done so much as a freshman and… I’m at a loss for words,” Christine Griffith said. “It was great to see us take the shot put events for both men’s and women’s, and I can’t wait to see where he ends up in his last meet in four years.”
Christine Griffith was also a successful athlete for the women’s track team, placing first in the shot put and javelin events at the NJAC Championships and other events beforehand. The way she got to this point is unlike other Red Hawk athletes though, since she needed an extra year to get here.
“So, the way the NCAA works, is that it grants every college athlete four seasons of one sport, but ten full semesters of competing in any sport,” Christine Griffth said. “So since I competed in softball and volleyball for four seasons at William Patterson, I could not be in those sports for Montclair State. But since I was finishing up my first year of graduate school, I still had my ninth and tenth semester of eligibility.”
Due to the NCAA rules, Christine Griffith decided to step outside of the box and join the track and field team. She described how throwing a javelin combined aspects of the different sports she played; a softball throw combined with the motion of a spike in volleyball helps her to thrive in these kinds of events. Both Christine and John Griffith were not born with these athletic abilities, so it took a lot of work to become better at their craft.
“John and I both share the common motivation for putting in hard work,” Christine Griffth said. “Every single day, we are putting in something towards track, whether it is eating properly, getting enough sleep, doing mental training and going through our physical practices. We are who we are because of both genetics and our work ethics.”
Stephanie Eastman, a senior who also threw for the women’s track and field team, also understands the dedication and passion the Griffiths put into the sport to succeed.
“The Griffiths’ work ethic is unmatched,” Eastman said. “I have been teammates with Christine for two years now, and she is one of the most dedicated athletes I know. And although I have only been teammates with John for a short amount of time, he has already made such an impact on the throws program here at Montclair [State].”
Unfortunately, the NCAA can only grant so much time to student-athletes to play sports, so after this semester, Christine Griffith is at the end of her track and field journey; but the future is still bright for her brother who looks to build upon a successful freshman season.
John Griffith is excited for a new normal and a new season next semester.
“I’m excited for the new recruits that are coming in and all of the new people coming in because I want this team to be built well and for us to win the NJAC in the future,” John Griffth said.