Star thrower embraces unheralded past at Manhattan

Transfer Alex Kristeller hopes to get Olympic-sized chance


It is not everyday a little known Division III thrower can take their game to a different orbit when stepping foot in a Division I cage. The sudden stardom of Alex Kristeller has sent a wave of excitement through the Manhattan College Track & Field program as he eyes rare glory in the NCAA Championship next month.

Kristeller wanted to carve out a new legacy for himself when he chose to transfer to Manhattan from Widener University in Pennsylvania. With a robotics engineering degree in hand from Widener, Kristeller viewed Manhattan as the best and final destination for his collegiate throwing career, which incorporates the weight, the hammer, and the shot put.

A Division I program offered Kristeller the challenge of a lifetime to try and repeat as a national champion, a title he gained twice in the Division III ranks by going the distance in the hammer throw in 2023 and the indoor weight throw in 2022.

When Kristeller was introduced to Manhattan volunteer assistant coach Patrick McGrath, both gravitated to each other and he found immediate value by working with McGrath, a 1995 graduate of Manhattan who went on to compete in the hammer throw event in 2000 Olympics in Sydney.

Long before meeting Kristeller, McGrath had already gained a reputation for working with world-class throwers, including Rudy Winkler, an active two-time Olympian and the American record holder in the hammer throw at 82.71 meters.

First, Kristeller jumped at the opportunity to get personal coaching from McGrath. From there, that opened the door for him to solidify his spot in the Jaspers’ program while being able to pursue a masters in business administration.

“He is one of the best coaches in the country,” Kristeller said of McGrath. “I knew he would be able to help me get better.”

Kristeller has done nothing but capitalize on his opportunity at Manhattan so far. He is fresh off a win in the weight throw at the Millrose Games, launching his best throw 70.1 feet to ensure victory over nine other competitors.

Kristeller is the first Manhattan thrower to reach the 70-foot mark in the weight throw since Jacob Freeman did it. Freeman graduated from the school in 2004, and still is the record holder in school history for both the weight and hammer throw with high marks of 76.9 feet and 210.36 feet, respectively. Kristeller’s best score for the weight is 72.96 feet.

“I just want the throws to feel good,” Kristeller said. “A good feeling throw combined with some big adrenaline is pretty cool.”

There is a certain chip on Kristeller’s shoulder coming from a Division III school, but it does not carry much extra weight for Kristeller. There are plenty of instances of talent getting overlooked, and Kristeller fits that bill.

It’s pretty rare,” McGrath said.“As a Division III kid, he may feel like that Rocky underdog that he can hang with the Division guys.”

Kristeller wouldn’t trade his current situation, but did admit to at one point feeling content to finish out his final two years at Widener. Instead, Kristeller will graduate from Manhattan in 2025, with his final competitive stretch slated for the outdoor track and field season next year.

“Manhattan also has all the tools at my disposal to get as good as I want to,” Kristeller mentioned.

Kristeller is not consumed by tracking down any record as much as he is focused on improving each day. But for someone in the position of McGrath, who has a clear sense of Kristeller’s skills and work ethic, it’s tough not to think about the heights at which Kristeller can still reach.

“Potential-wise he can,” McGrath said about Kristeller’s Olympic prospects. “He’s the type of kid you have to hold back because he will over train.”

“I wasn’t aware of how close everyone was and how much alumni really cared about us,” Kristeller said. “It’s apparent that being here you have a strong sense of community and that you are competing for much more than yourself.

Alex Kristeller, Manhattan College, track & field, shot put, hammer throw, Patrick McGrath,