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Gallagher helps spark Canton to third place at NCCC meet

CANTON, May 27 – When he received the baton for the final leg of the 1,600-meter relay race at last week’s NCCC championship meet at Ellington High, Canton junior Ryan Gallagher was about a step ahead of East Windsor but trailed runners from four other teams.

Canton’s Ryan Gallagher takes the baton for the anchor leg of the 4×400 relay at the NCCC championship meet.

In the space of 54 seconds, Gallagher pulled away from the East Windsor runner and caught runners from two other teams in the final 50 meters. Thanks to disqualifications by the top two teams, Canton won its first-ever NCCC relay championship that clinched a third place finish – its best finish ever.

Junior Connor Smyth also grabbed Canton’s first individual NCCC championship with a win in the high jump, tying his own school record with a leap of six feet.

Canton’s 400 meter and 3,200 meter relay teams also set new school records with strong finishes. Ryan Gallagher (400) and Colin Glasson (shot) each finished second in their respective events.

The thrilling victory in the meet’s final event lifted Canton (68 points) into third place, two points ahead of Stafford. Tolland easily won its third straight NCCC meet with 140 points with Enfield second with 78½ points.

Gallagher used his speed earlier in the meet to anchor Canton’s school-record effort in the 400-meter relay. The team of Chris Hyde, Luke Talbot, Brian Lochner and Gallagher finished third in 46.5 seconds. Gallagher nearly won the 400 meters in 53.12 seconds, less than a half-second behind Coventry’s Fernando Millian Montes.

When Gallagher grabbed the baton in the 1,600 relay, Canton was barely fifth. But he surged around the track and caught runners from Enfield and Ellington. The Warriors moved into the top spot when Coventry was disqualified for interference during a handoff and Tolland was disqualified for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Tolland’s anchor leg runner spiked the baton to the track at the conclusion of the race. Kevin Kurnat, Dylan Petruskevicious and James Rosshirt ran the first three legs to put Gallagher in position to make his move.

Smyth had a strong meet. Not only did he win the high jump but he took fourth in the long jump (18-8) and seventh in the discus (112-6). Glasson finished second in the shot with a throw of 42 feet, 6 inches that was nine inches behind the winner and just a half-inch off the school record he set earlier this month.

David Kucia had a solid third place finish in the 110 hurdles with a time of 16.70 seconds. Canton’s 3,200 meter relay team of Matt Casey, Petruskevicious, Kurnat and Sean Murphy finished third with a school-record time of 8:44.2.

Eric Nystrom, a favorite in the 1,600 and 3,200 meters, missed the meet with a sore back that he hurt earlier this month. He sat out to get healthy for the Class S championship meet that was held Monday in Manchester.

Other top 10 finishes came from Luke Talbot (7th, 100) and Mike Leduc (5th, 3,200).

A smaller Canton girls team scored eight points and finished 11th  in the field of 13 teams.

The Warriors’ 1,600 meter relay team (Katherine Bussiere, Shiny Douglas, Alaina Casioppo, Guilia Aprilini) set a new school record finishing fifth in 4:32.15. Casioppo also set a new school record with a lead of 14 feet, 4.5 inches in the long jump, good enough for 10th place.

Canton’s 400 meter relay team also finished fifth (Aprilini, Douglas, Tyisha Alexander, Lucy Mentzer).

The Canton boys finished the dual meet season at 7-5 while the girls were 4-8.

Complete 2009 NCCC championship results

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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