MHS boys' track and field defines 'team effort'

By Martha Marteney - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Wed., Jun. 15, 2011
MHS senior Algernon Johnson runs the 100-meter dash at the Randy Smith JI Greater Manchester track meet. He placed first at that meet and went on to place first at the Class LL state tournament. Photo by Dave Mazzotta. - Contributed Photo

“Hard work does pay off,” said Redman Thayer, coach of the Manchester High School boys’ track team. “It’s important that that message is instilled.” Thayer has been with the program for 16 years and has led the team as head coach since 2000. “If you just give them a chance, they’ll do amazing things,” he said. Redman himself is a finalist for the National Coach of the Year Award.

Manchester High School’s boys’ track team has a solid history of success. The team has had 10 undefeated seasons in the last 12 years, thus winning the Central Connecticut Conference – North division. The team placed second in 2010. Other schools in the CCC-North division include East Catholic, East Hartford, Glastonbury, South Windsor, Weaver, Wethersfield and Windsor.

For 2011, the boys’ track and field team also recaptured the Team State Open Championship, which was last held by MHS in 1944, as Class LL winners. At the recent Spring Sports Award Night, MHS Athletic Director Lindsey Boutilier pointed out that the banner for the gymnasium has been ordered.

Senior Algernon Johnson won the 100-meter dash at the Class LL State Open, with teammates junior Shamar Smith, senior Chris Turner and junior Carlos Deleon also competing. The state record in this race dates to 1999 and is held by Shelldon Simpson, the coach of the MHS girls’ track team. Smith also placed well in the 200-meter dash. Sophomore Patrick Dibble ran well in the 1600-meter run and also competed in the 3200-meter run.

Junior Kodjo Erasmus, in his debut year, finished second in the 100-meter hurdles and third in the 300-meter hurdles. Senior Brian Boudreau finished well in both hurdles, and senior Devon Farquharson also competed in the 300-meter hurdles.

Junior Kweko Aidoo placed third in both the high jump and the triple jump. Sophomore Ryan Dube also competed in the high jump.

Manchester placed third in the 4x400-meter relay and eighth in the 4x100.

Senior captain Chris Choiniere took second place in the pole vault. Senior Seth Devalve placed well in the shot put, as did senior Taylor Johnson in discus. Junior Joshua Nicols also competed in the discus, and senior Khary Harris-bey competed in the long jump.

The boys’ and girls’ track teams started a new tradition this year, scheduling their sports banquet prior to the Spring Sports Awards Night. Numerous awards were given in recognition of improvement, commitment, dedication, team spirit and academics. It was an evening of shared congratulations among members of a tightly-knit team.


Spotlight Players:

Senior Chris Choiniere - Pole Vault and Javelin:

As captain, Choiniere said, “I don’t think the season could have gone any better. All the teams we thought would be tough – we beat them.” Although the team was undefeated going into the State Open, according to Choiniere, there was no assumption about winning. “We all knew what we had to do to win,” he said. “This year was the definition of a team effort.” Although Choiniere was hoping to take the school record in the pole vault, he was pleased with his personal best of 12 feet, 6 inches, not to mention placing second in Class LL. “It was something I was hoping would happen, but not something I seriously considered,” he said. Choiniere will be attending the University of New Haven for fire science and will be pole-vaulting for both indoor and outdoor track.


Senior Algernon Johnson - 100-meter Dash, 4x100- and 4x400-meter Relay:

Algernon Johnson won the Class LL State Open in the 100-meter dash. “That was very exciting,” he said. “I worked really hard, so winning the LL really mattered to me.” Although the relay teams did not take first place at the open, he felt that the hand-offs kept getting smoother and the teams kept getting better throughout the season. “I’m very proud of the boys and how we won the state LL meet,” he said. Johnson plans to study psychology and social work at Manchester Community College and then transfer to Central or Southern Connecticut State University.


Senior Taylor Johnson - 100-meter Dash, 4x100-meter Relay, Discus:

“I continued to get better through the season,” said Johnson, who threw his personal best of 130 feet, 9 inches. His previous personal best was 126 feet. “It felt good, really good,” said Taylor Johnson, who placed fourth in the Class LL division and 11th at the state open. Taylor started with track just last year. “It felt like the greatest success,” he said about coming so far, so fast. “It felt like all the hard work finally paid off.” He will be attending the University of Connecticut to study computer engineering, where he may decide to be a “walk-on” (not a recruited athlete) for the UConn track and field team.

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