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Norwich - Martin Alfaro missed practice last week for an important reason. An exchange student from Chile, Alfaro received a visit from his parents and the family took some time to see the sights together, touring Boston and New York.
"I asked him, 'When will you be back?'" Fitch High School boys' track and field coach Rich Kosta said. "He said, 'Monday.' I said, 'Make sure you're back Monday.'"
It was Alfaro who won all three throwing events for Fitch on Tuesday against three-time defending league champion Norwich Free Academy. Fitch won 77-73, sweeping the final event, the high jump, to come from behind against the Wildcats and win the championship in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division.
Fitch, which swept three field events, last won the title in 2008.
Based solely on running events, NFA scored 58 points, getting wins from Andrew Weiler in the 400 meters, 800 and 4x400 and a sweep in the three relay events. But Fitch outscored the Wildcats 48-15 in the field events, led by Alfaro, a junior who is a student at Osorno College in Chile.
Fitch finished its dual meet season 7-0 overall, 5-0 in the Large Division. NFA is 6-1, 4-1.
"I was getting a little discouraged," said Kosta, who was timing the running events up on the track and not privy to the results of the field events except when occasionally updated by assistant coach Wayne Jacob.
"(NFA is) a great program. They have lots of numbers. Every once in a while we're able to reload and get them."
The meet started with a mishap in the 110 high hurdles, the third event, when the top two competitors in the event, NFA's Chase Guillemette and Fitch's John Coleman, collided and had to be helped from the track. Guillemette, who was ruled to have interfered with Coleman, leaning off-balance into Coleman's lane, did not return.
Because of the interference, Coleman was allowed the opportunity to run again in the next heat, which was delayed while it was determined whether Coleman was fit enough to continue. He fell on his back and hit his head, Coleman said, and had almost his entire left arm bandaged.
But Coleman ran, winning in 16.0 seconds and coming back to win the 300 hurdles in 41.7 seconds. Kosta called Coleman's effort "gutsy."
"They left it open for me," Coleman said. "I'm a little sore, my arm, my hands, my hips. ... I saw him jump over a hurdle high and to the side. I didn't think too much of it at first."
Fitch's Frank Norosky won the 200 and teammate Alex Olendorf picked up a valuable three points by coming from behind to finish second in the 3,200.
In the field events, Alfaro took the shot put (44 feet-9.5 inches), discus (101-2) and javelin (153-3). Lexus Gordon won the long jump (19-7.5) and the high jump (5-8) and freshman C.J. Alumbres won the triple jump (38-9). The Falcons swept the triple jump, javelin and the all-important high jump.
Entering the high jump, NFA led 73-68 and needed to secure a second-place finish to clinch the meet. Gordon, Marquis Guess and Mike Phillips stopped that from happening, finishing first, second and third for Fitch, with Gordon and Guess the only two to clear 5-8.
"What you saw was a complete team in Fitch," NFA coach Jemal Davis said. "Our kids competed, but you must respect the focus of their guys."
Fitch's victory spoiled stellar performances by Weiler and Dan Cardin, who also ran three events and won the 1,600 and 3,200. Xavier Dunn, Zack Wesolek, Joseph Trahan and Weiler won the 4x400 in 3:34 and Davis said the 4x100 team's time of 44.0 was far and away the Wildcats' best time of the year.
Cardin, a senior, said earlier in the meet that it NFA were to lose it would be a "confidence destroyer" and said that he hoped it would never happen on his watch.
"That's due to the hard work of these guys and the guys before them," said Davis of Cardin's will to win. "Based on that comment, that just shows you how successful we've been over the years."