RHAM’s 4x800 relay team won a state championship and broke the school-record this winter. Student athletes from the left; Cam Rhodes, Konrad Jandzinski, Josh Gauthier, and Sam Fortin are flanked by coaches Mark Logans and Olivia Mondo.
After RHAM’s 4x800 relay team of Sam Fortin, Josh Gauthier, Konrad Jandzinski, and Cam Rhodes won a Class M state title the only left to do before celebrating was to throw up.
Three of the members of relay team had run to exhaustion, causing Gauthier, Jandzinski, and Rhodes to each take turns vomiting into a nearby trash can.
The fun-loving trio joked with Fortin that he “didn’t run hard enough” — sparing him a visit to the receptacle.
Next was the celebration.
Along with winning the state title, the four set a new school-record with a time of 8:19.58 to edge runner-up Ledyard (8:21.75) at the Floyd Athletic Center in New Haven on Feb. 11.
It was the third time the team broke the school’s 4x8 record this season, first breaking it at the East Coast Invitational (8:33.25) on January 14 and then re-breaking it at the Central Connecticut Conference (CCC) with a time of 8:25.93 as the relay team captured a conference championship on Jan. 28.
With their time at the state meet, the team had put the original record in the dust, smashing the previous mark of 8:43.40 set a season ago.
“Our initial plan was to break the record and we weren’t sure if we could do it, but we demolished it every single time and we just kept going,” recalled Rhodes, who added the success can be linked back to chemistry. “We are all really good friends; we trust each other to do what we are supposed to do.”
Jandzinski added the team was confident heading into the state finals, adding, “We knew it would be close, but we were sure that we had it in us. We knew if we ran a good race that we would be able to win, and we did it.”
Prior to the season, winning a state title wasn’t really on the foursome’s radar because never ran a relay together.
Now, three months later, they stood atop of the podium at the class meet and etched their names in the RHAM record books.
“When we came into the season we didn’t really expect any of it, so it kind of came out of nowhere,” recalled Fortin. “All of it is very exciting.”
Gauthier added that the four were following the lead of RHAM’s ultimate record-breaker, Liam Calhoun, who shattered multiple running marks prior to graduation last spring.
“We had a terrific leader the previous year,” Gauthier said of Calhoun, who is now running for Wesleyan University. “He achieved a lot and we wanted to follow in his footsteps, so we wanted to work hard and so we could get the state title.”
The four agreed that the key to any successful relay team is building a rapport, along with each member knowing their role.
Fortin runs the first leg of the relay and sets the stage, saying, “I just want to get out hard and get us a lead and set a good pace for the rest of the race.”
In any relay the first exchange is crucial and the exchange between Fortin and Gauthier was on-point at the state meet.
“Sam does a great job,” said Gauthier, whose job is to maintain the pace as the second leg. “I always try to stay with the person in front of me and keep the people behind me. That doesn’t always happen, but that’s the goal.”
When Jandzinski took the baton for the third leg, his goal was to keep the momentum going, saying, “I was trying to keep us close and make sure Cam has a good chance at finishing and closing.”
Once Rhodes got his turn, the team was in second place, but the speedster did what he does best on the final leg.
“My teammates know I have a good finishing kick, so my mindset is to keep with those people in front of me and find that good opportunity to kick,” recalled Rhodes, who blazed into first place and never looked back.
Once the team had hurled and hugged, they realized they had set a new standard of excellence for future relay teams at RHAM to shoot for.
They had also qualified for the State Open and would eventually qualify for the Nike Indoor Nationals, which will take place in The Armory in New York City from March 10-12.
It will mark the first time that any of the four will compete on a national level.
“Competing at state meets is really challenging, but this is going to be another level of competition,” stated Gauthier. “Hopefully we can beat the record (again) if things go to plan. I think it will be a good experience just to see what a national meet is like.”
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin