Lang excels in decathlon, New England jumps

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A silhouetted Mike Lang of Woodland High sails through the air during the long jump at the State Open Track and Field meet at Willow Brook Park June 3. Lang competed in the New England championships in the long and triple jumps and also finished seventh at the state decathlon last Wednesday. –RA ARCHIVE
A silhouetted Mike Lang of Woodland High sails through the air during the long jump at the State Open Track and Field meet at Willow Brook Park June 3. Lang competed in the New England championships in the long and triple jumps and also finished seventh at the state decathlon last Wednesday. –RA ARCHIVE

NEW BRITAIN — Mike Lang is impossible to please.

Woodland’s junior sensation qualified for the New England championships in the long and triple jumps and also finished seventh at the state decathlon last Wednesday, yet one would think he had just dropped the relay baton in an Olympic final.

“Overall the end of my season was upsetting for me,” Lang said. “Not being able to bring the 4-by-100-meter relay team to New Englands, not performing to the best of my abilities in New Englands and coming in seventh (at the decathlon) by less than 50 points, which was very upsetting.”

Take Lang’s disappointment at face value and one might think he had a subpar season. But put it in the perspective of the steep standard he’s set for himself and see that it’s a year that doesn’t happen often around here.

After winning multiple medals at the Naugatuck Valley League indoor and outdoor track championships, he helped the Hawks’ 4-by-100 relay squad to a win at the Class M outdoor championships last month. That same team finished seventh at the State Open, just one spot out of New Englands.

His pair of top-six finishes in the long and triple jumps at State Open qualified him for the New England meet on June 8, where he just missed the All-New England team. He was eighth in the triple jump with a bound of 44 feet, 3.25 inches and 13th in the long jump with a leap of 21-2. Both were below his season bests, which left him unsettled.

Lang was especially excited at the prospects of the decathlon, where he shattered the school record by earning 5,346 points, good for a seventh-place finish. Lang led the competition after the first day with strong performances in his best events — the long jump, high jump, 100 meters and 400 meters.

He dropped off a little in the second day after a pair of early errors left him hobbled.

“I messed up in the hurdles by hitting the first one, and getting hurt in the pole vault didn’t help,” Lang said. “Right after getting hurt I was able to throw javelin well, with the fact I wasn’t able to move my left elbow. Going into the last event (1,500 meters) I was in fifth place, which was my goal. But my 1,500 time was so bad that I dropped two places.”

Lang was the second highest placing junior in the decathlon field and surprisingly gave himself credit for the best performance in school history.

“The positive I got out of that was that my score beat the Woodland record by a little less than 300 points, so I have something to be proud of in that meet,” Lang said.

Naugatuck’s Patrick Alves also competed in the decathlon’s first day but did not qualify for the final five events. In the girls heptathlon, Woodland’s Tayler Boncal and Naugatuck’s Jasmine Grey also participated in the first day but didn’t make the final round.

Lang said he’s going to use his own disappointment from the end of this year to improve during the offseason. He hopes to earn a college scholarship offer for his track exploits.

“I have to train very hard over the summer and have that end of the season in mind,” Lang said. “I’m going to try to do a few meets over the summer by myself like the USATF Junior Olympics to get ready for next year.”