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Middletown - Bryce Hedman has always looked up to Ledyard High School teammate Joe Carter, a senior headed to the University of Rhode Island next year, calling Carter his "idol."
That was until Hedman, in the last few weeks - although he's still a fan, of course - began channeling his own inner Joe Carter.
Hedman, a junior, won the boys' 1,600 meters at the Class MM state track and field championship Tuesday at Middletown High School in 4 minutes, 30.61 seconds and was fourth in the 3,200 (10:09.3), after taking both events at the Eastern Connecticut Conference meet. Ledyard was fifth in Class MM with 48 points.
"I think that's good for him. He'll be leading the team coming up as a senior," Carter said. "He's been able to run these times and beat these people. He's been able to realize he's a good athlete. With his mind, he's able to defeat people."
Hedman appeared to be laboring during the 1,600, trailing New Fairfield's Zach Anderson with 200 meters to go. Running somewhat hunched over, Hedman seems to be hobbling at times, when nothing could be further from the truth.
"I'm feeling great," Hedman said.
That's just how he runs.
"People have made fun of my form since freshman year," Hedman said. "They've made suggestions and I tried it. It was even worse when I was a freshman."
Having worked on his closing speed, all it took for Hedman to take off for the finish line was the slightest hesitation from Anderson. Did Hedman have time to catch him?
"I thought I should probably try," Hedman said.
Hedman was second in the ECC championship to Norwich Free Academy's Connor Gralton during cross country season. He went on to finish fourth in Class MM, earning all-state honors, and was 32nd in the State Open.
Even he wasn't sure he could win Tuesday. He was seeded second, nearly four seconds behind Anderson and was expecting to finish third or fourth.
"That was a big one. The ECC meet was a big breakthrough for him," said Ledyard girls' coach Dave Tetlow, who coaches the boys' and girls' teams during indoor track. "His form has improved and it's made his job a lot easier. With 200 meters to go (Tuesday), he looked like he was hurting. Obviously, he wasn't. He's at least standing back up a little bit, to get himself up where he doesn't burn so much energy."