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New Haven — Julio Gil-Martinez's newly-won CIAC State Open indoor track and field championship was over a year in the making.
The Waterford High School senior failed to qualify for the 55-meter finals at last year's Class M indoor championships, so decided to put more focus in that event having had success in the 300.
The work paid off on Monday as Gil-Martinez ran the 55 dash in 6.52 seconds to win the State Open title at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
"I couldn't believe I didn't get into the finals last year, so I decided that I was not going to let that happen again," he. "I decided to bear down."
Ledyard's Chenoa Sebastian and Tyler Latham of Fitch were the region's other State Open champions, sweeping the 55 hurdles finals.
Danbury had 48 points to win its 10th boys' championship. Fitch, Ledyard, New Britain and Waterford all scored 12 to finish tied for ninth. The Wilbur Cross girls edged Staples, 46-43.33, to win the school's first state title in 10 years. Ledyard tied for 13th (10 points).
Sprinting is all about the calves, Gil-Martinez said, so he went to work on them.
"I found out that's a big one (for success)," Gil-Martinez said. "I had to get that explosiveness. I did the leg-press machine, calf raises, all that good stuff. My dad got me my own weight room at home, and I'm very grateful for that."
Gil-Martinez won the Class M title earlier this month, was seeded first at the Open and shaved two-hundreths of a second off his seed time (6.54).
"It feels really good (to win). I'm very happy," Gil-Martinez said. "My dad has always been teling me that I'm capable of doing it."
Gil-Martinez also finished fifth in the 300.
A State Open indoor hurdles championship was the one thing that had eluded Latham. He'd won back-to-back Class L titles and is the reigning State Open outdoor 300 hurdles champion.
Latham finished ninth in last year's Open and was concerned heading into Monday because the recent poor weather made it tough for him to train.
"I certainly can't say a lot of practice (helped me win) because of all these snow days," the senior said. "Coming off the ECC meet (on Jan. 25), I've had one practice on the track. Everything has been in the gym, or running around the parking lot.
"I certainly don't run hurdles in a parking lot ... You can't do much in the gym except run a few laps."
Latham also teamed with Frank Norosky, Devin Lehman and Cameron Wilhelm to finish fifth in the sprint medley relay and set a school record (3.45.99), besting the record set last season.
It was the second straight Open indoor hurdles championship for Sebastian, also a senior. She is also the reigning 100 hurdles State Open outdoor champion.
"I was definitely nervous because I haven't been able to practice for almost two weeks (because of the weather), but I knew if I focused that I would pull through," Sebastian said. "It's really great (to win). I'm really glad I can represent Ledyard and the ECC for the whole state."
Ledyard's Joe Carter was runnerup in the 300 (35.91) and teammate JoJo Shumaker placed fourth in the long jump (20 feet, 11½ inches).
Orrin Parke of New London finished fourth in the 55 (6.60) and teamed with Jose Garcia, Dante Alston and Nico Ramos to take third in the 4x200 relay (1:34.70).
East Lyme's Brandon Dinsmore was fifth in the 600 (1:25.41) and Connor Gralton of Norwich Free Academy placed fifth in the 1,000 (2:35.73).
In the girls' meet, Gabi White of NFA finished fourth in the pole vault (10-0) while teammate Taylor Driggers took sixth in the long jump (16-11).
New London's Francine Jacque was fifth in the 300 (41.33) and Kelsey Shukis of East Lyme finished fifth in the shot put (36-8).