HADDONFIELD - Antonio Tarantino has a cool and rhyming name that draws notice. With a name like that he could be nicknamed “Hollywood.”
However, the senior at Paul VI High School, doesn’t elicit attention because of his cool name. Instead, he is a premier sprinter in the state. He lets his legs make a name for himself.
Last June, Tarantino placed third in the 200 meters at the Meet of Champions. Over the winter, he placed fifth in the 55 meters at the MofC.
“When someone comes up to me, they are ‘you are Antonio Tarantino, did you do that time?’ and I say just ‘yeah’,” he said modestly. “I don’t like to brag.”
Tarantino won the state Non-Public A 200 title last year with a personal best 21.1 He best time this year is 21.59, which he ran at the South Jersey Open at Delsea.
“I’m definitely trying to reach 20-point this year,” Tarantino said. “This is my final year of high school.”
Even though he says, “I’m a100 and 200 guy” Tarantino is also a team guy.
At the South Jersey Coaches Invitational, he was walking outside of the Rancocas Valley track when a teammate was busting around the curve and Tarantino stopped and shouted encouragement to him.
And, during the meet, Tarantino teamed with Alan Tucker, Chris Cavalieri and Nick Miscioscia to run the 400 relay even though he is a sprinter. Tarantino ran the leadoff leg as the Eagles placed third behind Holy Spirit and Camden.
“I love the relay,” Tarantino said, “It definitely does help show where I am in my progress, but I really like the bonding with my teammates.
“We all trust each other and all do what we can to help us do well.”
Tarantino and his teammates ran in the 4x100 and 4x400 in South Jersey small school events at the Penn Relays.
“I also try to show the team to believe in themselves and that they can do anything,” he added about the relays.
Tarantino, who is from Blackwood, started playing sports at Our Lady of Hope School.
“I think it mostly started when I was young, I always found myself doing track,” Tarantino said. “Although I played basketball and soccer, I liked track the most.
“I found my heart in track and I love running … I was quick.”
Tarantino credits his middle school coaches and high school coaches for really nurturing his interest in track.
“My middle school coach told me I was quick and said I was destined for greatness,” Tarantino, the son of Mario and Marianne, said. “And my parents saw it in me too and I just kept growing in the sport.”
Tarantino, who is slightly built and looks taller than 6-foot frame, committed to Rutgers University where he’ll major in kinesiology with the plan of pursuing a career in athletic training.
“I want to stay in the athletic world,” Tarantino said, “and try to help young athletes.”
He already is helping his Paul VI teammates.