UAlbany track star overcomes friend’s death, gains strength

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Updated: 6/02 11:31 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – A member of the University at Albany track team overcame his friend’s death to continue being a star on the team.

Alfonso Scannapieco has reached new heights during his pole vaulting career at UAlbany. He transformed from a young man with potential into an all-American and a champion.

“Since he’s been on the team, we’ve won the conference championship indoor and outdoor, and we have never lost one,” track coach Roberto Vives said. “He’s played a big part in that.”

Four years ago, Scannapieco was in the Arizona desert with his best friend Steve LePorize.

“I didn’t even see what happened,” Scannapieco said. “We were just taking pictures and next thing I turned and he was gone.”

LePorize had fallen off a cliff.

“Unfortunately, we were stranded in the desert,” he said. “Just me and him, and he ended up bleeding to death in my arms.”

Scannapieco tried to bury the memory for three years as he returned to the track, but it all came to a head in his senior season.

“I couldn’t even pole vault. I couldn’t hold a pole in my hand,” he said. “I felt like the past finally caught up to me cause I was trying to bury it for so long.”

Scannapieco decided to reach out to a school counselor who helped him move forward.

“I give him a lot of credit for his courage,” Vives said. “And here he is now ready to graduate.”

Scannapieco may be ready to graduate, but he said he will never forget the loss of his best friend, or what it taught him.

“No matter what happens, whether it’s good times or bad times, I can make it through it, and that’s why some challenges are in front of you, so that way you can step over them,” he said.

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