The Day's All-Area Boys' Track & Field Athlete of the Year: Fitch's Tyler Latham
Groton - You were perhaps expecting something else? Please. He's a Latham. That means he is another illustration of academic and academic excellence that rarely - if ever before - has been so fundamental to one family in this region.
Tyler Latham is the last Latham, actually. Jen, Sarah, Ben and Aubrey came before him, all achieving varying levels of excellence at Fitch High School. Young Tyler leaves with several distinctions, too. The latest is The Day's 2014 All-Area Boys' Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
His accomplishments include the state decathlon title, which he won the day he graduated from high school. He was named the 2014 Gatorade Connecticut Athlete of the Year in boys' track and field.
Latham led the Falcons to an unbeaten dual-meet season, the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division championship, the ECC team title at the championship meet, a fourth-place finish in Class MM and a third place at the State Open.
He swept his three specialty events, the 110-meter high hurdles, 300 intermediate hurdles and javelin, at the ECC and Class MM championships, then added wins in the 300 hurdles and javelin at the State Open before the decathlon, where he became the only athlete in the field to break 6,000 points (6,304).
Latham leaves Fitch with outdoor school records in the 300 hurdles, 400 hurdles, 400 meters and as a member of the sprint medley relay team, as well indoor records in the 55 hurdles and sprint medley relay.
He has accepted a scholarship offer to attend Central Connecticut State University.
And to think that the pressure surrounding all those championship events could match the burden of his last name.
"I get that all the time," Latham said. "It's 'Oh, you're a Latham?'"
They refer to Jen, a graduate of Southern Connecticut, who was an All-American in the hammer throw. Sarah, a New England champion in track (and also a standout basketball and volleyball player) who went to Bucknell. Ben, a track savant, graduated from Oklahoma. Aubrey played softball and basketball in high school and attended Post.
"This year, I think I finally stood out for myself," Latham said. "I felt like I honestly did the best I could. I went out with everything I had."
And he credits his siblings.
"They taught me to compete," he said. "That means to give it all you've got all the time."
All of which sort of makes Fitch coach Rich Kosta a sympathetic figure today. Poor guy. No more Lathams.
"It's hard to talk about Tyler without sounding cliché, but he's always had that extra drive as far as attitude and work ethic," Kosta said recently. "In the six seasons I coached him (three indoor, three outdoor) he was never injured, never missed a practice ... and then it all kind of just clicked this year and he was able to step it up a notch.
"He had a great senior year. He was truly the leader of our team, by example and by his actions. He conscientiously led. Sure he wanted to do well for himself, but he wanted to do equally well for the team."
That much is evidenced by what Latham treasures most about this season.
"Individually, I did well," he said, "but what I'm most proud of is leading my team to a third straight ECC title. Winning as a team means the most to me."
Now he's off to Central and leaves an empty house at Chez Latham. No more games, matches or meets at Fitch.
"I'm not sure what they'll do with themselves," he said. "Probably yardwork."
The Day's All-Area Boys' Track & Field Team
Player of the Year: Tyler Latham (Fitch)
100 - Andris Vital (NFA)
200 - Julio Gil-Martinez (Waterford)
400 - Orrin Parke (New London)
800 - Brandon Dinsmore (East Lyme)
1,600, 3,200 - Bryce Hedman (Ledyard)
4x100 - East Lyme (Tim LaDuca, Evan Tryon, Jared Ayers, Greg Atkinson)
4x400 - East Lyme (Jared Ayers, Noah Hallisey, Evan Tryon, Brandon Dinsmore)
4x800 - Old Lyme (Stuart Ross, Jack Castonguay, Jeff Davis, Cole McKnight)
High jump - Nico Ramos (New London)
Pole vault - Andrew Peitzsch (East Lyme)
Long jump, triple jump - Joe Carter (Ledyard)
Shot put - Brian Robinson (Fitch)
Discus - Jared Stanland (Old Lyme)
Utility - Jelani Lucas (New London)
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