East Lyme boys, girls finish third in Class L indoor track meet

New Haven — Sam Whittaker usually heads for the closest wall when he finishes a race and lies flat on his back with his feet propped up in the air, what he calls a "lactic acid stretch."

That was the posture Whittaker, East Lyme High School's senior luminary, was in early in the meet Friday night at the Class L state indoor track championship, having just completed the leadoff leg of the 4x800-meter relay at the Floyd Little Athletic Center. After a moment, Whittaker popped up and looked to see where his relay team stood.

"It was Rob's leg ... I figured out he was first," Whittaker said. "Honestly, not all of us were expecting that much (out of the relay)."

East Lyme's boys, Whittaker, Matt Kung, Rob Avena and Fred Rukundo, won the relay in 8 minutes, 16.87 seconds.

East Lyme's girls, Gilly Goodwin, Laura Agbayani, Sophie Taylor and Julia Bates, followed by winning the 4x800 relay, as well, in 9:52.77.

And that was just the beginning, before rush-hour traffic in New Haven even had a chance to disperse.

Whittaker, running with a new-found confidence, won the 1,600 in a season-best 4:23 and was fourth in the 3,200 (9:42.67) approximately an hour later, leading the Vikings to a third-place team finish with 40.5 points.

The East Lyme girls, also third overall with 38 points, went on to tack on another relay win, with Bates, the anchor, putting away a first-place finish in the sprint medley relay in 4:23.56. She was joined by Saige Deveau, Nancy Alden and Katherine Harris.

East Lyme's Akhil Chiamkurthi won the boys' pole vault with a leap of 13 feet.

And with the least stylish finish, Fitch senior Tyler Cady made Falcons history as he fell across the line for a win in the boys' 300 meters with a school record time of 35.98 seconds in just his first season competing in any sort of track.

Cady, the center fielder for the Fitch baseball team, is set to play baseball in college at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I.

Cajoled into running track by a good friend of his, Dan Gaiewski, Cady won three events last week in his first-ever Eastern Connecticut Conference meet, taking the 55 dash (6.79), the 300 (37.19) and running a leg on the first-place 4x180 relay team (1:26.92).

Cady knew he was fast on the bases, but ...

"I did not feel like I could win that race," said Cady, who scraped his face as he fell at the 300 finish. "People were talking about guys dropping 36.18s and here I am with my 36.99 PR. (The success) has just been crazy, unexpected.

"... I saw (second-place finisher Warren Murphy of Notre Dame-West Haven) coming up. I went to lean and I went too far. I fell right on my face."

Cady was also 12th in the 55 dash in 6.85 seconds. His time in the 300 eclipsed the school record of 36.58 set by Warren Williams in 1990.

Similarly, if you ask East Lyme's Bates what sport she plays, she's apt to answer "lacrosse."

Bates will attend the University of Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, and compete for the women's lacrosse team.

On Friday, she anchored a pair of state championship relays and also ran a leg of the Vikings' 4x400 relay, which was second in 4:12.85. Bates plays field hockey in the fall and lacrosse in the spring, but has competed in indoor track all four years.

Other local place-winners in the girls' meet were East Lyme's Ellie McCoy, fourth in the 600; East Lyme's Lynn Delillo, fourth in the pole vault; Fitch's J'Onelle Davis, fourth in the shot put; East Lyme's 4x200 relay team, sixth; and Fitch's 4x400 team, sixth. East Lyme's runner-up finish in the 4x400 came from Deveau, Taylor, Harris and Bates.

Other local boys' place-winners were New London's Marquis Whyte, fifth in the 600; East Lyme's Chris Abbey, fourth in the 1,000; East Lyme's Makaih Olawale, sixth in the high jump; and Fitch's Nick Helbig, sixth in the shot put. East Lyme's sprint medley relay team was fifth.

Windsor won the girls' team title with 69 points and Xavier scored 64 points to win the boys' championship.

v.fulkerson@theday.com

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