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New London — Exhausted from the 1,500 meters, the 10th and final event in the CIAC Decathlon, Tyler Latham found some relief in the shade under a canopy late Wednesday afternoon.
Latham could finally rest after a long, hot day at Coast Guard Academy.
"Never again," Latham said, referring to running the 1,500, perhaps his least favorite decathlon event.
Latham capped a stellar Fitch High School career by winning his first state decathlon title, scoring 6,304 points and earning the title of best all-around athlete. Nicholas Griswold of Foran placed second with 5,749 and Ledyard senior Joe Carter was third with 5,569.
"It's always the best way to go out with a win," said Latham, who graduates from Fitch on Friday and heads to Central Connecticut State University this fall. "It was a great meet, a lot of good athletes are here."
After finishing fourth last year, Latham came in highly-motivated to capture the title. He stood in first place after five events on Tuesday and remained in front on Wednesday, winning the javelin (174 feet, 6 inches) and 110 hurdles (15.21 seconds), his two best events.
Latham leaned on last year's experience and remained focused during long breaks. He killed some time with Carter, working together to create some shade by standing up a mat near the pole vault area.
"This year my body is more mature and I'm more experienced in every event, which certainly aided my score," Latham said.
Latham improved in the pole vault, going from failing to register a height last year to clearing 8-6 1/4 and placing 16th. He finished ninth in the discus and 11th in the 1,500.
The only minor disappointment in Latham's mind: falling short of Sean Berg's school record of 6,538 points set while winning the state decathlon in 2003.
"It's a 50-50 thing, because I wanted to win and score over 6,000, and I also wanted Berg's record," Latham said. "I got half of what I wanted. I had to sacrifice getting Berg's record."
Berg, who is a first-year volunteer assistant coach on Rich Kosta's staff, enjoyed working with Latham this season.
"He's a great guy to work with," Berg said. "He's got a lot of potential. Athletically, he's probably a lot better than I was. Technically, in certain events, he's not quite there yet. Maybe not in the jumps, but in the sprints he's a lot faster than I was.
"Plus, he's got guts, man. As they say, guts are enough."
Carter showed some guts, too, competing in his first decathlon. He relied on his strength as a sprinter to remain in contention heading into the second day of competition.
His best finish on Wednesday was 10th in the pole vault at 9-6 1/4.
"I wanted to try a new thing and set the school record," said Carter of why he wanted to compete in the decathlon. "You get to try everything, so it just makes everything 10 times better."
Carter made a good run at Jeff Brewer's school record of 5,697 points in 1996. He'll attend the University of Rhode Island.
"He's had a great, great, great year," Ledyard coach Dave Tetlow said. "Just to finish in the top three in the state is pretty good."
In the girls' heptathlon, Kiah Strickland of Montville finished ninth overall with 3,373 points and teammate Abigail McAdams placed 20th (3,144). The Fitch duo of Brianna Robinson (34th, 1,610) and Stephanie James (39th, (1,499) also competed. Anna Atkinson of Branford won with 4,091.
Strickland was second in the javelin (101-8) and McAdams excelled in the 800, taking sixth in 2:37.20.
In individual events, Peter Hine of Old Lyme was fourth in the 2,000 meter steeplechase (6:52.81) and Jake Ryan of Stonington was fifth in the hammer throw (125-7).