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Dombrowski ready to make track transition at Duquesne

| Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

In early December, Matt Dombrowski was getting ready for finals at the end of his first semester at Robert Morris University.

The 2013 Plum graduate also was preparing for his first indoor track and field season with the Colonials men's squad and also had his sights set to spring and his initial outdoor campaign.

But things quickly took a turn when the RMU athletic department announced the elimination of seven varsity sports in efforts to streamline the department through financial efficiency.

Dombrowski was left with decisions to make about his athletic and academic future.

Fast forward six months, and Dombrowski is set to begin a new journey, as he decided transfer and will now continue his academic and athletic pursuits at Duquesne University.

“I am going into a very good situation at Duquesne,” Dombrowski said.

“I will have a chance to do well early and have a chance to earn scholarship money after my first year. I looked at academics first, and Duquesne is one of the best schools in the area. I didn't want an academic drop off.”

Dombrowski decided to take a redshirt for the recent indoor and outdoor seasons, and he still will have four years of collegiate eligibility. He will be a sophomore academically.

He said it's a bittersweet feeling leaving Robert Morris, as he will miss the friendships and overall comfort developed during his one year at the Moon Township school.

But, he said, the opportunity at Duquesne is took good to pass up.

Of the more than a dozen men's track and field team members with college eligibility left, half, Dombrowski said, will remain at Robert Morris while the rest will transfer.

“I wanted to still compete, and I had to do what's best for me,” Dombrowski said. “Duquesne is a solid Atlantic 10 program.”

While he wasn't able to compete, he got acclimated to the heavier collegiate shot put and discus. He also got up to speed on an event unfamiliar to him — the hammer throw contested in outdoor meets and the weight throw used in indoor meets.

The hammer consists of a ball attached to the end of a chain, and the athlete grips a handle on the opposite end. Body rotations in a circular motion build up velocity in a throwing circle until the implement is set to be released.

The weight throw is similar to the hammer but doesn't travel as far and is used for safety in indoor meets.

“It's a different animal than anything I've done before,” Dombrowski said.

“It was a little intimidating at first.”

The collegiate shot put is 16 pounds compared to 12 for high school, and Dombrowski went from a high school-best throw of 51 feet, 3.5 inches at last year's WPIAL championships to the low 30s with the heavier weight.

He now is averaging 37 to 38 feet in the shot with a goal of the low 40s by the end of the summer.

Dombrowski capped his high school career with a fourth-place finish in the shot at WPIALs and a trip to states.

Although he didn't compete this season, he did follow and support those he got to know well, including redshirt senior Steve Mitchell, a Pittsburgh Central Catholic graduate who earned Northeast Conference academic and athletic honors this season.

Mitchell finished second in the shot (53-11) and third in the hammer (166-2) at the NEC Outdoor Championships.

“Steve is a great guy and an amazing thrower,” Dombrowski said. “He had a big impact on me. He helped me change my high school mentality in terms of my approach to throwing into more of a collegiate mentality.”

Dombrowski hopes to make an impact with Duquesne. Only one other member of the Duquesne men's track and field team — Hempfield graduate Lucas Sphon — does the same throwing events.

“Hopefully, I will have success early,” Dombrowski said. “It's a new start for me. It's exciting.”

Michael Love is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5825, at mlove@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Mlove_Trib.

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