Eastwood native Mike Melfi likes to run…fast! And he does it all the time. Nearly every race he enters he
finishes at the top. Although winning is nice, it is not his ultimate goal. What he wants to do more than anything
is to run as fast as he can. So, just how do you go about getting an incredible athlete who has won innumerable races
and set countless records to run even faster? Well, according to Mike, you put him in a big race where he can get
his "butt beat!" It is in these situations that he tends to run faster than ever, often turning in his best times.
Mike's speed has been with him since his earliest efforts. He ran his first race during the summer of 5th
grade at the Sunnycrest track, placing first. The win qualified him for the Eastern Regionals of the Junior Olympics
where he also earned top honors, making him eligible for the Junior Olympics in California. Unfortunately, with the
Junior Olympics only one week away, he was unable to attend. Regardless, this early success encouraged Mike and he
continued with his running.
While attending 8th grade, Mike met Jerry Riordan, who was the track coach at Henniger High School. Under
his tutelage, Mike learned that he could be successful at anything if he was willing to work harder than everyone
else. With the support of his coach and his belief in himself, his high school achievements in running were
phenomenal. He was a member of the cross country, indoor and outdoor track teams. He ran events from the 800 meters
to 3200 meters, setting many records along the way, which earned him the distinction of Henniger Senior Male Athlete
of the Year in 1994. Mike is especially proud of this honor as he is only one of a few runners to ever win this
award. And although it was Mike's hard work and talent that earned him so many awards, he is quick to point out
that he owes it all to the man he holds the utmost respect for, and who forever changed his life. Calling him
the 'legendary' Coach Riordan, Mike states, "Any success I have with running and life is due to the dedication and
determination Mr. Riordan taught me. He's the best!"
Mike followed up his high school accomplishments by continuing to shatter records while attending Marist College in
Poughkeepsie. He had a wonderful couch, Pete Colaizzo, who balanced the motivational qualities he gleaned from Coach
Riordan, with technical qualities, teaching Mike how to race. The sum of these two coaching styles equaled success!
Mike set four indoor school records as well as recorded the fastest time in the college's history in cross country at
Van Cortland Park, a 25:11 8k. He was also the first ever participant from Marist at the Penn Relays. He was named
the Male Sports Person of the Year at Marist in 1999, an award also earned by Rik Smits, a former basketball player
with the Indiana Pacers. This distinction was not only meaningful to Mike, it was also significant to the track
program at Marist, as he was one of the few runners to receive this honor.
Since college, Mike has continued running competitively, participating in road races as well as on the Syracuse
Chargers Men's Open Cross Country team. At the 2001 RRCA Convention in Albuquerque he was honored as RRCA's Open
Male Runner of the Year. He has many notable PR's including Chris Thater 5K (14:30), NYC 8K (30:30) and Philadelphia
Half Marathon (67:47). Over the summer he increases his regular weekly mileage from 60 to 80 miles. With so many
running achievements already, it is hard to imagine what is left to conquer. For Mike, that would be the marathon.
He thinks over the next few years his favorite distance to run will shift from the 5K to the marathon, with hopes of
someday making the Olympic Trials in the marathon.
Mike earned his Bachelors Degree in Psychology/Special Education and is a certified teacher. He has spent the past
three years working as a Special Ed teacher at Lincoln Middle School. He recently was appointed to the Huntington School
on Sunnycrest Road in the Syracuse district as a Special Education teacher working with elementary children. This
appointment has special ties for Mike, as he spent nine years there as a student and even served as the Student Council
President. Many of his former teachers are still there and he welcomes the opportunity to work with them. Along
with his full time teaching position and working towards his Masters Degree in Reading/Liturature Education at
Syracuse University, Mike can also be found at Fleet Feet where his love of running and knowledge of the sport
serve his customers well. He enjoys meeting fellow runners and has learned so much about the local running
community by working there. Hard to believe there is any time left in his day to do anything else, but when there is
some down time, Mike spends it on things he finds relaxing such as reading, washing his card and listening to disco music. Hoe owns volumes of disco recordings with one of his favorites being Gloria Gaynor's 'I Will Survive.' Whenever something is bothering him, he will just turn up the volume and listen to that song and the tension fades away.