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LeDuc, Smyth win Class S state titles for Canton

CANTON, June 7 – It was an afternoon of dramatic performances and excellence for the Canton High boys track and field team at the Class S championships at Willowbrook Park in New Britain. Mike LeDuc and Connor Smyth became the first Canton athletes to win state titles in outdoor track and field.

Canton athletes set school records in seven events, had four athletes qualify to compete in the State Open and finished a strong third. Northwest Catholic won with 92 points with Coginchaug second with 72. Canton finished with 59.

After a gut-wrenching battle in the 1,600 meters where LeDuc lost by 0.23 of a second to Northwest Catholic’s Nick Greco, LeDuc rolled to a state championship victory in the 3,200 meters, pulling away with 400 meters to go for a solid six second victory. LeDuc knocked 18 seconds off his own school record time.

In the 1,600 meters, LeDuc went out to win. He pushed the pace of the race and led for more of the way. Greco spent much of the race trying to get past LeDuc and he finally was able to get past LeDuc in the final 25 meters. Still, LeDuc’s time of 4:20.59 broke the school record set by Nate Bussiere in 2007 by 12 seconds and it’s one of the top 10 times in the state this spring.

Smyth won the long jump with leap of a school-record leap of 20 feet, 11 inches, just one inch better than Somers’ Evan Wocik. That wasn’t good enough for one coach who protested vigorously that Smyth had fouled on his winning jump. But the protest was denied.

David Kucia competed in three events and brought home three medals. The lanky junior was second in the 110 high hurdles (15.78 seconds), third in the triple jump and fifth in the 300 hurdles (43.29 seconds). His leap of 39 feet, 2.5 inches in the triple jump was a new school record, beating a Smyth jump from 2008 by a half inch.

Kucia has made his living in the hurdles. Sheehan Michaels of Coginchaug beat Kucia by 0.60 of a second in the 110 hurdles.

All three Canton relays earned points by finishing in the top eight. The 4×100 relay (Kyle Hall, Brian Lochner, Tyler Matt, Jeff Lochner) finished seventh with a school-record time of 45.91. The 4×400 relay (Nick Chekas, Tyler Fitzpatrick, Kevin Kurnat, Brian Lochner) was seventh in 3:37.60 and the 4×800 relay (Jon Cahill, Chekas, Fitzpatrick, Kurnat) was seventh with a school-record time of 8:33.13.

Dylan Smith finished third in the shot with another school record throw of 44 feet, 2.5 inches, breaking the mark he set a week earlier at the NCCC championship meet.

The top five finishers in each event qualify for the State Open. …. The Canton girls competed in the meet but didn’t score any points. … Three Canton athletes have won state titles in indoor track. LeDuc won the 3,200 meters at the Class S meet this past winter while Brian Magna won the 600 meter event. Erik Nystrom won the 3,200 meters in 2009.

STATE OPEN: In New Britain, Mike LeDuc knocked 10 seconds off the time he ran at the Class S championships in the 3,200. His time of 9:27.12 was good enough for fifth place. … Connor Smyth was 13th in the long jump with a leap of 21 feet. … David Kucia was 16th in the 110 hurdles and 25th in the 300 hurdles.

NEW ENGLANDS: In New Britain, Mike LeDuc dropped another eight seconds running the 3,200 meters in 9:19.75 to finish 13th in New England. He was the sixth runner in the race from Connecticut.

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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