Woodland boys’ track second in Class M

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NEW HAVEN — He’s an oddity at the start line: Standing erect, while his fellow hurdlers crouch in their blocks, legs cocked like the gun about to signal the beginning of their race.

Despite—or, perhaps, because of—his unorthodox posture, Woodland’s Brandon Fowler posted the fourth-fastest time in the 55-meter hurdles at Friday’s Class M indoor track and field championships at the New Haven Athletic Center then finished third in the 300 and anchored the second-place four-by-400 meter relay team. The senior’s efforts helped the Naugatuck Valley League champion Hawks tally 37 points and finish second overall, behind only mighty host Hillhouse High.

The result was Woodland’s best ever at an indoor state meet, fulfilling the potential Black and Gold athletes and coaches saw throughout the season.

“This year’s different,” Fowler said between events. “It makes you want to go out and win every event more because you know you’re not just doing it for yourself; you’re doing it for your teammates, you’re doing it for your school, so it means a lot.”

Fowler’s classmate, Dan Park, repeated as the Class M long jump champion, clearing a career-best 21 feet, one inch, almost a foot farther than his closest competitor. Tyler Murphy claimed fourth in the 600, in one minute, 26.20 seconds, and Kyle Cranney was sixth in the mile, in 4:42.79.

In one way, it would be inaccurate to say the Hawks snuck up on the rest of the class—Woodland was second at last spring’s outdoor championships and fifth at the 2009 indoor meet—but in another way, it would be spot on. About halfway through the evening, the Hawks had only eight points: four from Fowler’s 8.15 in the 55 hurdles and four from Murphy’s performance in the 600.

But the Hawks were confident they would rally.

“We’re feeling pretty good,” Woodland coach Jeff Lownds said at the midpoint of the meet. “We know the majority of our points will come later in the meet.”

Lownds was right. The Hawks piled up 19 points over the final seven events, passing teams like Tolland, Brookfield, Sheehan and Weaver en route to the runner-up spot.

After Cranney picked up a point in the mile, the 1,600-meter sprint medley squad of Chris Williams, Jake Pinho, John Plaskon and Murphy earned two more with a fifth-place showing, in 3:52.89.

Then came the biggies: Park’s win in the long jump, second- and fourth- place finishes by Fowler and Chris Savvidou in the 300, and the No. 2 spot in the four-by-400.

The final ranking actually exceeded the team’s expectations.

“We said we’re hoping to finish in the top four,” Woodland coach Tim Shea said. “Anything in the top four, we’d be happy.”

On Saturday at the Class S championships, the Woodland girls placed 21st, with three points. Alyssa Marti took fifth in the 55-meter hurdles, with a time of 9.51, and the four-by-400 meter relay team of Kate Trauger, Brittany Battis, Sarah Melville and Brittany Albright finished sixth in 4:30.29.