Shelton High boys indoor track and field coach Jason Kymer had his team purge away one disappointing performance — and the Gaels en masse responded with a stellar postseason.
At the East Sectionals, the 4×200 relay team had a poor exchange, the baton was dropped, and the Gaels were disqualified.
Kymer knew he needed something to restore the team’s spirits.
The next day during their lifting session, Kymer paraded all the athletes outside into the parking lot. He brought two things with him — the dropped baton and a sledge hammer.
All of the relay members and coaches took turns smashing the baton flat against the pavement, each delivering a rousing speech between swings of the sledge.
When asked about the ceremony, Kymer quoted philosopher George Santayana: “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Camerin Gumbs, Matt Bean, Sean Sirisouk and Nicholas Andrade qualified for the State Open championship in the 4×200 with a fourth-place finish in Class LL at 1:35.32.
“Our 4×400 relay team won the East Sectionals title, with the help of mid-distance runners Joshua Sacoto and Zachary Muller,” Kymer said. “Bean and Gumbs paired up with Muller and Sacoto to run a 3:37.98, good for a first place.”
The win in the 4×400 was telling, but Shelton had the Sectional title crown wrested away by Lyman Hall. Hillhouse was second and Shelton took third.
“High jumper Jack Bocchino leaped 5-06, good for sixth place, and long jumpers David Samedi and Jack Carr took third and fourth place with jumps of 20-03 and 19-08.75,” Kymer said.
“Closing out the regular season, Erik Lorent placed second at the Yale Classic with a 6.50 and first at the Coaches Invitational with a 6.55 in the 55-meter dash. Losing him before East Sectionals was difficult, but our other sprinters stepped up.
“Bean galvanized the group with a highly-contested fourth in the 300 (36.62).
“In the 55 meter, Andrade dashed his season best to steal a third place at Easts with a 6.75.
“Sophomore Michael Rodia also improved his season-best times at Easts, and then more so by the LL meet, with a 6.89.”
The 4×400 relay would also improve their season best with a 3:36.89 at LLs, a time they’d further improve on at the Open with a 3:34.51.
Shelton has begun training for the outdoor season, where a year ago the Gaels were SCC Housatonic Division and East Sectional champs.