Fitch boys take charge in ECC Large track
Groton - Both teams know each other and their respective ins and outs so well, the coaches could have scored - and probably did score - the meet ahead of time.
Except then there was Fitch High School junior Tyler Latham, the defending State Open track and field champion in the javelin, who didn't pick up a javelin Tuesday afternoon.
Vastly outscored on the track in last year's narrow dual meet victory over Norwich Free Academy in the Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division, being swept in all three relays, Fitch acquitted itself nicely on the track this time in a more decisive 87.5-62.5 victory.
Latham won the 110-meter hurdles (15.1 seconds), 300 hurdles (39.5) and ran the anchor leg of the winning 4x400 relay (3:30.6), as well as finishing second in the 200.
And Fitch (6-0, 4-0), which clinched at least a tie for the Large Division title with one meet remaining, still swept the javelin.
"Between the 300 hurdles, 200 and 4x400, I had like a five-minute break," said Latham, who took a seat in a nearby chair, exhausted, while he spoke following his final event. "It was run, stretch, drink water, run.
"Somebody told me not to PR (set a personal best time) in the 300 hurdles because they needed to save me for the 200, but I PRed anyway. When it's close like this, it's all or nothing."
With NFA hoping for another relay sweep, Fitch put a stop to that early on, taking the 4x100 behind Frank Norosky, Mustapha Noibi, Chris Bond and Randall Rissing. The 4x400 win came from Luis Crisostomo, Eric Powers, Bond and Latham.
Fitch swept both hurdles events, while NFA had 1-2-3 finishes in the 800, 1,600 and 3,200.
"It was excellent, competitive everywhere," said Latham, who plans to compete in the state decathlon championship at the end of the season. "Every event matters; that's something everyone here should have learned.
"Last year we came to their home and upset them (77-73 for the Falcons' first ECC title since 2008). We were just able to hold them off at our home."
Fitch also got wins from Lexus Gordon in the long jump (21-7.5) and triple jump (45-0), Marquis Guess in the discus (114-9.5), Andrew Perez in the pole vault (13-0), Devante Anderson in the javelin (156-7.5) and Nate Moreta in the high jump (5-10).
Meanwhile, NFA's Kyle Liang, whose performance mirrored Latham's as his team's versatile star, won the 400 (51.5), 800 (2:07.9) and 4x800 (9:07.6) with Dustin Plourde, Tyler Sholes and John Stevens. He also ran on the 4x400 relay, given the baton significantly behind Latham on the anchor leg but still trying to chase him down.
"This is one of those meets where we're strong where they're weak and they're strong where we're weak," Liang said.
Chris Byars (shot put, 45-0.5), Martin Lewerk (100, 11.3; 200, 22.7) and Plourde (1,600, 4:51.4; 3,200, 10:48) won events for NFA. The Wildcats are 5-1 overall, 3-1 in the Large Division.
In last year's meet between these teams, Fitch swept the high jump to come from behind for the victory, leaving NFA coach Chad Johnson (then the Wildcats' assistant) with a few regrets that his team didn't give its best in accumulating every point possible.
"I was more disgusted than anything," Johnson said. "Today, I told the guys before the meet that I'd feel terrible if we lost. I feel they've bought into everything and worked hard to try to get these guys (Fitch). I'm proud of the kids efforts.
"That's what you do," Johnson said of Fitch moving Latham to where his points would be needed the most. "That's a perfect example: they took him out of the javelin and they still kick our butts all over the place. They're way deeper in the field events."
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