Hammond likes indoor track just fine, adds two Class M titles to his resume
New Haven — For those who think of indoor track as just a fancy way to get ready for outdoor track, we go to Stonington High School senior Rhys Hammond, who will head to Cornell University to run for the Ivy League school beginning next year.
Hammond won a pair of Class M state indoor track titles Saturday at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.
So, which season is better for track?
His answer? Both.
"For me, indoor is just as important as outdoor," Hammond said. "I'm trying to peak twice, once during the indoor championship season and then again outdoors."
One of the reasons for Hammond's affection for the winter season is the 1,000 meters, a distance unique to indoor track. It's his best.
"I'd say so," he said.
Hammond won the 1,000 Saturday in 2 minutes, 30.02 seconds, doubling over in agony at the extra .02 that was tacked on to the time. His goal was to finish in under 2:30.
He then anchored the Bears in the sprint medley relay, which finished first in a meet record of 3:37.90. Sophomore Christian Hudson, who recovered from a sprained left MCL during football season, ran the opening leg, one lap, followed by senior Andrew Castagliuolo for a lap, senior Chase Flynn for two laps (400 meters) and Hammond for four laps (800 meters).
"It's amazing," Hudson said. "Just to run with the seniors that are graduating. I love that I'm a part of the team with them."
Flynn also finished second in the 600 meters in 1:24.66, running out of the second-fastest heat.
"I've been running well in the second-fastest heat," Flynn said. "I almost prefer it. I can just pace myself."
Flynn said the Bears give every effort in practice.
"Then we go out on the track and put ourselves together as a team," he said.
Hammond won those two events last year at the Class M meet, as well. He went on to finish third at the State Open in the 1,000 and fourth in New England.
Earlier this season, he broke the Eastern Connecticut Conference record in the 1,000 in 2:32.84.
"I think what sets him apart is the every day focus," Stonington coach Ben Bowne said of Hammond, "the every day, in and out focus. He trusts the coaches, his parents trust the coaches. It's really a rare thing. There's so much more that goes into it than just talent."
Hammond, Flynn, Castagliuolo and George Limberakis finished the meet by placing second in the 4x400 relay in 3:32.07.
The Bears finished in fifth place in the boys' team standings with 38 points. Waterford was seventh with 31. Tolland led the way with 61.
Also winning a title Saturday was Waterford senior Jared Lovell. Lovell, who is slightly built at 5-foot-8, 130 pounds, flew across the finish line to win the 55 hurdles in a personal best time of 7.82 seconds before being greeted by his mom, Michelle.
Lovell was the top seed in the hurdles coming into the meet but had the second-best qualifying time in the preliminary heat after Masuk's John Macfarlane, 7.88-7.94.
"I was just trying to focus on getting to the final," Lovell said of the prelims before talking about his final, in which he edged Macfarlane 7.82-7.88. "In the beginning I try to get a good start. ... I try to go over (the hurdles) low. It's over so quickly."
Lovell was second in the ECC Division II meet to Windham's Enrique Lopez Garcia. Lopez Garcia won the Class S state title Friday and Lovell followed suit a day later.
Other local boys' place-winners were Waterford's Dante Beard, second in the 55 dash (6.69); Waterford's Michael Vincent, third in the high jump (6-0); East Lyme's Chris Abbey, sixth in the 1,000 (2:43.45); Stonington's Ryan Gruczka, sixth in the 1,600 (4:34.37); and Stonington's Bobby Lewis, sixth in the hurdles (8.18).
Waterford's 4x200 relay team of Lovell, Beard, Jalen Chappelle and Vincent was third in 1:36.12. East Lyme's 4x800 relay of Finn Power, Magnum Brandt, Ben Rukundo and Fisher Macklin was third in 8:29.20 and Waterford's team of Kristopher Dow, Owen Seltzer, Sean Corman and Aidan Pepin was sixth in 8:37.63. East Lyme's sprint medley relay of Coleman Groff, Rohan Venkatesh, Rukundo and Abbey was fifth in 3:50.60.
Local girls' place-winners in the meet were Stonington's Nancy Inthasit, fifth in the 55 dash (7.62); Ledyard's Nadia Helme, sixth in the long jump (16-2.25) and sixth in the 55 dash (7.63); and Ledyard's Olivia Crawford, sixth in the hurdles (9.11).
Stonington's 4x800 relay of Megan Detwiler, Rachel Sabbadini, Chloe Morehouse and Vanessa Benjamin was sixth in 10:19.58.
Weston won the girls' team championship with 76.5 points.
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The Day will begin publishing its Winter All-Area teams in Sunday's edition, a connection to our local high school athletes which brings us great pride.