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New London - Tyler Latham was in an inside lane for the 300-meter sprint Saturday afternoon.
Orrin Parke, his counterpart from New London High School, was on the outside, which meant that because of the staggered start, it looked like Parke was ahead for much of the race.
"I knew it was going to come down to me and him," said Latham, a junior at Fitch. "I kicked the last 50 meters and passed him. But it came down to the very end."
Latham won in 36.96 seconds, edging Parke, who tried to lean his body over the finish line ahead of Latham. Parke's time was 37.12.
As he was most of the day at the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division championship meet at the Coast Guard Academy, Latham was in the right place at the right time, adding a second individual win in the 55 hurdles (8.07).
Fitch won the meet with 153 points, followed by East Lyme with 116 and Norwich Free Academy with 105.
Latham capped the meet by running the anchor leg on Fitch's 4x360 relay team which set the meet record in 3 minutes, 9.89 seconds. He joined Chris Bond, Luis Crisostomo and Lake Wyld, eclipsing the record of 3:10.44 set by Ledyard in 2008.
The entire Fitch team sprinted across the infield to mob Latham at the finish line.
"It's priceless," Bond said of the relay victory to cap the meet. "It came to a point where we knew we were going to win the meet, but our relay team wanted this gold medal."
Other highlights included a meet record in the 600 for East Lyme senior Ben Ostrowski (1:23.97), a double win for NFA's Kyle Liang in the 1,000 (2:49.03) and 1,600 (4:40.33) and a breakthrough for East Lyme's Tim Myers in the 3,200 (10:20.11), with Myers also swarmed by teammates at the finish line.
Parke, meanwhile, won the 55 dash for New London (6.67) and ran a leg of the Whalers' winning 4x180 relay team along with Nico Ramos, Jose Garcia and Gabriel Diaz. Ramos won an entertaining high jump competition with a leap of 6-0, jumping by himself at 6-0 and 6-1 after everyone else missed at 5-10.
"It gives us a little more boost," Ramos said of competing at the ECC meet in New London. "It feels like this is our home."
As for Ostrowski, well, The Day's All-Area Indoor Track Athlete of the Year last season after finishing fifth in New England in the 600, he had never won an individual event at this meet before. He was ill last year and finished second in the 1,000, a medal he hung in his room at home to motivate him.
He then finished second to Liang in the 1,000 early Saturday. That meant by the time Ostrowski got to the starting line for the 600, there wasn't any strategy besides winning. Ostrowski broke the record of 1:24.66 set by Ledyard's Andrew Esposito in 2008.
"I wanted to start out and get it right off the bat," Ostrowski said. "I didn't even look at the record. I just wanted to get that first individual title."
Ostrowski later anchored the Vikings' winning sprint medley relay team, joining Chris Apicelli, Andrew Bernard and Brandon Dinsmore.
It was Fitch, though, which continued its success from outdoor track season, when the Falcons topped NFA in the final event during a dual meet, then captured the ECC championship, as well.
In addition to the first-place finishes Saturday, Fitch got second-place finishes from Mustapha Noibi (55 dash, long jump), Crisostomo (hurdles), Marquis Guess (high jump, shot put), Johnny Diep (pole vault) and the 4x180 relay team.
"It's a great feeling that you went out and did your best," said Wyld, a senior captain. "It's a good day for all the Fitch athletes."