Avon’s Jack Martin pulls off a rare triple at the Class MM track meet

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Jack Martin’s coach had to talk him into doing the triple — the 800 meters, the 1,600 and the 3,200 — at the Class MM track and field championships Wednesday at Willow Brook Park.

“At first, I was like, ‘No way. No way. I can’t do that,’” said Martin, an Avon High junior. “Three individual events - all so close together. Nope. And you want me to go for the win in all of them.”

Then he thought about it and decided to give it a shot.

Martin did it, capturing titles in all three events. He hung back and kicked in the last 200 meters to win the 1,600 first in 4:20.19. Then he ran a solid 800, winning in 1:56.20. Then came the final event, the grueling 3,200. It was hot. Luke Anthony of New London pulled away right after the bell rang for the final lap and Martin had to hunt him down and kick a little earlier than he liked.

But he won that one, too, in 9:41.17, completing the difficult triple.

“I kind of took it one race at a time,” he said. “Didn’t think too much ahead. Just push myself through that pain. Realized everyone else around me was feeling just as bad as I was.”

Martin realized he had a blister on his toe before the 3,200, but what could he do? He stayed in a pack for much of the race, conserving energy but then Anthony decided to go early in the bell lap.

“He was right on my butt the whole time,” Martin said. “Then with one lap to go, he takes the lead in front of me and he’s kicking and I’m like, ‘Already? Already?’ I like kicking at the 200 because it’s so close. I’m like, ‘Oh God, I have to chase him now.’ With 250 to go, I’m like, ‘I feel like if I don’t start kicking hard enough now he’s going to gap me a little bit. All right, I’m going to give all I’ve got left.’ He made it a good race.”

Martin said he will focus on the 800 Wednesday at the State Open.

Avon finished third in the boys team competition with 56 points, behind champion Weston (84) and Hand (68).

Hillhouse won the girls title with 80.5 points, with Barlow finishing as runner-up (77) and Berlin third (62.5).

RHAM senior Patrick Oatman set a meet record with a 15-foot pole vault, breaking a 2009 record.

“I’m excited about that,” Oatman said. “I was hoping for good news. I got lucky today.”

It was not his personal best; he vaulted 15-4 at a dual meet in East Hartford earlier int the season. But he hoped to be able to do that or better next week at the Open.

Ellington’s Martin wins 100 in Class M

Ellington freshman Jalena Martin was not happy so she took her anger out by winning the 100 meters in 12.57 in the Class M meet Wednesday at Willow Brook Park.

Martin had qualified for the long jump but she was scheduled to run the 100, 200 and 4x400. She misunderstood and went to the long jump.

“We did some over-entering and we thought we were clear on the events, but we weren’t clear enough - that’s on us,” Ellington coach Adam Zylberman said. “She made up for it right after in the 100.

“We knew the girl from HK [Kederiah Lewis, who finished second in 12.82] was very quick. She’s a senior. She’s been around. But [Martin] had a great start and held her off. She’s got all the talent in the world.”

“They’re like focus your anger on the 100 so that was my main goal,” said Martin, who was a middle school 100-meter state champion.

It was also Lewis Mills sophomore Gabriella Zeller’s first time at a big track meet, since there was no season last year. But she still managed a personal best in the 400, winning in 59.19.

“I was very nervous at the 200 because the girls were running really fast,” Zeller said. “I was scared. They were ahead of me on the inside of me. But they weren’t able to keep the pace so it ended up working out. They definitely pushed me.

“I didn’t have a season last year so it’s kind of very new to me. I was the most nervous I’d ever been.”

Lori Riley can be reached at lriley@courant.com.

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