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Balanced effort leads Canton to 2nd Class S state title in three years

Julian Franklin and his Canton teammates celebrate with the Class S championship trophy.

Julian Franklin and his Canton teammates celebrate with the Class S championship trophy.

NEW BRITAIN, May 28 – The Canton High boys track and field team won its second Class S state championship Tuesday in three years with a balanced victory over Old Saybrook, outlasting the Rams by a 85-51 margin. Oxford was third with 48 points.

Canton had three individual champions, had two relay teams finish second and scored in 12 of 18 events.

Senior Matt Graziano won his second straight Class S title in the discus and was foiled at his attempt to set a new state record by the wet conditions at Willow Park Park in New Britain.

Senior Julian Franklin won the triple jump with a school record leap of 42 feet, 3 inches while junior Keith Wilson captured the state title in the 400 meters, finally achieving his goal of running the race in under 50 seconds with a school record time of 49.84 seconds.

“They should be very proud,” Canton coach Tim O’Donnell said. “We knew there would ups and downs. We had more ups. If someone struggled in one event, they had a great performance in another event. They kept their focus.”

A week earlier, the Warriors won the NCCC Tournament meet for the fourth year in a row. But as a team, Canton was underwhelmed with their performance.

Julian Franklin, left, won the Class S title in the triple jump, while Keith Wilson won the 400 meters.

Julian Franklin, left, won the Class S title in the triple jump, while Keith Wilson won the 400 meters.

“Sometimes, it’s good not to have a great conference meet,” O’Donnell said. “We took care of business (at the NCCC). But we didn’t get too excited. We kept a few emotions in the beaker (for this meet).”

Franklin, who was also second in the long jump, said, “We came here to win. We knew what potential we have. If there was a day to show it, today was the day.”

Canton’s 4×800 relay team (Jim Spatcher, James Yost, Athen Chekas, Matt DeMarco) started off the day with a second place finish in 8:22.03 but Canton didn’t score a point in the 4×100 relay when they dropped the baton on the first handoff.

But the Warriors were not deterred.

They placed three runners among the top eight in the 400 meters, led by Wilson. Keith Goeben (52.86) in fifth place and Spatcher (53.31) in eighth place. Colin Martin was ninth, just 0.05 behind Spatcher.

In the 300 hurdles, Daley was fourth in 42.31 while Keith Loureiro was just outside of scoring in ninth place in 43.26. In the 100 hurdles, Wilson qualified as the seventh seed but he cut 0.89 of his preliminary time to finish third in 15.67 seconds.

Matt DeMarco took sixth in the 1,600 meters in 4:31.05 while James Yost qualified for the State Open in the 3,200 meters in 9:58.09. The top five runners in each event qualify for next week’s Open on June 3 here in New Britain.

In the field events, Graziano wasn’t challenged in the discus, winning by over 37 feet with a throw of 164 feet, 10 inches. The rain made the discus circle slippery and his quest to break the state record in the discus, set in 1969, will have to wait another week.

Graziano also took sixth in the shot with a throw of 45 feet. Cameron Daley was fifth in the javelin with a throw of 146 feet. In the long jump, Franklin actually finished tied for second with Somers’ Luke Alvaro. But Franklin earned the silver medal because his second best jump beat Alvaro’s by about five feet.

The Warriors capped off the evening with a thrilling race in the 4×400 relay. Canton was fifth at the midway point and moved into fourth place on the third leg run by Goeben. Wilson took the baton on the anchor leg and chased down three runners to push Canton into second place.

“My coach is always telling me to go out fast and I did,” Wilson said. “I did and I still had something left at the finish.”

For the first time ever, the Canton girls had a finisher among the top eight to earn a point. Junior Alex Martin finished eighth in the 300 hurdles with a time of 56.49.

The Warriors continued to break school records. Freshman Lucy Tanner grabbed the school record in the 100 hurdles from teammate Sarah Allen with her time of 17.42 seconds, good enough for 11th place. Allen was 17th in 18.34 seconds.

Canton’s 4×100 relay team (Emma Skinner, Tanner, Julie Ericson, Martin) broke the school record with a time of 54.24 seconds. The Warriors were 15th in the race.

Allen also finished 10th in the triple jump with a leap of 31 feet, 11½ inches.

The girls finished with a winning season (7-6) for the first time. “I’m very proud of the winning record,” O’Donnell said. “The kids had to do a lot of events. They had to be athletes. They were always willing to try and help the team earn points.”

2013 Class S boys and girls track and field results

Recent winners of the Class S boys track and field championship.
Year:    Team     Points
2013:  Canton           85
2012:  N.W. Catholic 81½
2011:  Canton           67
2010:  NW Catholic   92
2009:  Bloomfield      91
2008:  Bloomfield    108
2007:  Bloomfield    112.5
2006:  NW Catholic  86.7
2005:  Hyde            118
2004:  Hyde              83
2003:  Coginchaug 95.5
2002:  Hyde             85
2001:  Hyde            107
2000:  Coginchaug 79.5
1999:  Shepaug       86
1998:  Suffield         68
1997:  Coginchaug  67
1996:  Ellington      113
1995:  Rocky Hill      83
1994:  Avon            126
1993:  Ellington       68
1992:  Prince Tech 105
1991:  Avon             65
1990:  NW Catholic  64
1989:  NW Catholic  63

 

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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