Pat Dougherty started a track to his goal of being an All-State athlete two years ago with a javelin throw that was less than 100 feet, but he kept working hard and ultimately tossed his way into Haddam-Killingworth history.
After concluding his baseball career following freshman year, the recent graduate began his foray into outdoor track and struck gold in the spring season. Following a heave of 160 feet-10 inches to capture his Shoreline Conference title, Pat followed up that with a 162-10 showing to claim the Class M crown.
"It's crazy for me because I see all the names on the banners in the gym and I always wanted to have mine on there," says Pat, who placed 14th in the state meet his sophomore year and 11th last year. "It's a select few that get to do it and it's one of those things that you really have to work towards. After my junior year, I honestly could see myself doing it. It didn't set in for a long time after I won, but it's great to see my goal fulfilled."
While it was a dramatic ending to his tenure at HK, Pat didn't initially think he had the distance to win at the state meet. Pat did stick the landing, though, to take home the Cougars' first throwing state title since his assistant coach Sean Gallagher did so in the shot put in 2004.
"It was a long bus ride that day and I remember just telling myself to get to the 163-foot mark in my throw," recalls Pat, who took home both First Team All-State and First Team All-Shoreline honors for his feats. "I was nervous and didn't have the greatest day, but it's just something that you have to see yourself doing. It's a big thing to say that I am one of the few here to do this and you gain even more appreciation for what the others before you did. Javelin wasn't Sean's forte, but he did everything he could have done for me."
Pat proclaims it was an uphill journey to his double-gold sendoff in which he consistently picked up small pieces along the way to construct the puzzle to statewide notoriety. He additionally felt the pride of being a leader.
"With track, you will prove yourself at some point with the work you put into it and it's something that you can truly see results because it's just you out there," says Pat, who also played football and basketball. "I started throwing at under 100 feet and then sophomore year I really pushed it and reached 140 after getting my technical form down. I really do care about my school so when I see the younger kids, I tell them to put the work into it because I wasn't the greatest when I started, either."
"He is a real hard worker who gained a passion for javelin. He held a mindset towards being a Shoreline Conference and state champion," adds HK boys' outdoor track coach Matt Diglio. "He spent so much time in the weight room and was a leader who set examples for the younger throwers. We will miss him a lot; he was a really good kid."
Pat reports he came to a track environment suited perfectly for his diligent nature at HK. As he enjoyed the sport for both its team and individual aspects, Pat states he was lucky to be part of such a prestigious program.
"As a team, one of the things about HK is that we do so well because we all work so hard at our events," says Pat. "I was really impressed by how hard the kids worked when I got here. No matter the event, we always have kids doing well. One of the things I love about track is cheering on the rest of the team and knowing they deserve the support and respect. This was the best-case scenario for me. I was fortunate to have great coaches around me to help me. The coaching staff here knows what it takes to do well and is always pushing the kids."
The state champion now tackles a larger landscape as Pat hopes to make it onto the track squad at the University of Rhode Island next year. Using the same no-quit attitude he took to Cougars' athletics, Pat hopes to conquer competition again one objective at a time.
"I am going to use a similar mindset as to when I started here with football, which is to go 100 percent into it by training hard," says Pat, who thanks his entire family, along with all of his coaches and teammates. "I will have goals still, but right now, they are simply to make the team and compete in meets. I am nervous, but determined to do my best."