NEW BRITAIN – Winning is nothing new to Canton High senior Matt Graziano in the discus. We’ve seen it before.
As a junior, he won a Class S championship and followed that up with a State Open title. A week later, he became just the third Canton athlete to bring home a New England championship.
He’s hasn’t lost this year, either. Three times at the Greater Hartford Invitational in Simsbury, Graziano heaved the discus over the fence that surrounded the area where the event was held. Two weeks later at the NCCC championship meet, one of his throws hit the ground and bounced into the woods.
A week ago, he won a second straight Class S championship in the discus. On Monday, he won a second consecutive State Open title with his throw of 181 feet, 7 inches at New Britain’s Willow Brook Park.
Let’s not take this for granted. This is special. For over 100 years, Canton athletes have been competing and Graziano is just the fifth Canton athlete in school history to win a State Open championship – and the first to capture two straight Open titles.
Graziano and teammate Julian Franklin each helped Canton earn 14 points and finish 16th at Monday’s State Open. Graziano and Franklin, who was fifth in the triple jump with a school record leap of 44 feet, each qualified for Saturday’s New England championship meet here in New Britain.
Several individuals and relay teams from Canton and Avon participated at the State Open meet.
“For all intents and purposes, (nearly) every event we competed in saw a season-best performance or the second-best performance of the season,” Canton coach Tim O’Donnell. “In every event, except the 400 meters, we did better than we were seeded.”
The only athlete that didn’t exceed his top two performances of the season was Graziano, who won his event by 12 feet.
Graziano had a throw of 191 feet, 7 inches in a tri-meet against Ellington in April that would have broken the existing state record of 189 feet, 1 inch set in 1969 by Melmoth Taylor of Hartford Public. But only performances in meets with more than five teams qualify as record-breaking performances.
Franklin, another Canton senior, had an exceptional day. He finished 12th in the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 5½ inches which was the second best of his career. He was just two inches shy of making the finals.
He followed that up with a fifth place finish in the triple jump, breaking the school record he set less than a week ago with a leap of 44 feet. In fact, four of Franklin’s six leaps in the event were better than his leap of 42-3 at the Class S meet last week.
Franklin becomes just the third Canton athlete to qualify for the New England meet in outdoor track and field. Graziano has done it twice and Mike LeDuc qualified in the 3,200 meters in 2010.
Canton’s 4×400 relay team (Colin Martin, Keith Goeben, Jimmy Spatcher, Keith Wilson) finished 15th with a school record time of 3:28.75, shattering the record of 3:38.96 at last year’s Class S meet. Goeben ran an impressive split of 51.5 seconds.
Cameron Daley had his best time of the season in the 300 hurdles to finish 20th in the time of 42.08 despite running in a heat of just two runners. He also finished 22nd in the javelin with a throw of 144 feet, 4 inches – his second best of the season.
Wilson finished 14th in the 400 meters with a time of 50.37, just a hair of his school record time of 49.84 set a week ago at the Class S meet.
James Yost exceeded his best time in the 3,200 meters by nearly 15 seconds at the Class S meet. He ran 0.42 seconds faster at the State Open and finished 19th.
Canton’s 4×800 relay (Spatcher, Yost, Athen Chekas, Matt DeMarco) finished 17th with its second fastest-time of the season of 8:22.67, just a hair slower than the 8:22.03 from the Class S championship meet. Spatcher (2:03.0) and DeMarco (2:02.8) had their fastest 800 splits of the season.
The Avon girls had three athletes finish in the top 20 and three relay teams finish in the top 25.
Maddi McHugh was 12th in the 800 meters with a time of 2:23.52 while teammate Molly Hamel was 12th in the 3,200 meters with a time of 11:54.59. For the second straight week, Kaely Quijaro tied her own school record in the pole vault with a leap of 9-foot-6 to finish 18th.
The 4×800 relay (Sarah Kate Mascoli, Hamel, Sara Stokesbury, McHugh) finished 15th with a time of 10:05.78.
The Falcons’ 4×400 relay (Stephanie Koo, Jennifer Koo, Tara Shayler, McHugh) shaved three seconds of their performance from last week’s Class MM championship meet with a time of 4:11.70 to finish 19th.
Avon’s 4×100 relay (Stephanie Koo, Karina Bucci, Shayler, Emma Scheweitzer) finished 23rd with a time of 52.63 seconds.
Two Avon High boys did well at the State Open. Jake Sartain finished eighth in the triple jump with a leap of 42 feet, 10 inches. JR Reid was 11th in the long jump with a leap of 20-6 feet.
NOTES: The five Canton athletes to win State Open titles are boys tennis players Matt and Peter Spring in doubles (1999), wrestler Kacy O’Connor (1998), runner Mike LeDuc in the 3,000 meter steeplechases (2010) and wrestler Stephen Roberto (1989).