When Patrick Dibble’s arm gave out, his legs took over.

The Manchester High School junior took up running just four years ago after he was cut from the baseball team at Illing Middle School and hasn’t stopped.

“In seventh grade I played soccer and wasn’t thinking about running at all,” Dibble said. “In the spring I was trying out for baseball and something weird was going on. For some reason I couldn’t throw. I don’t know how to describe it, but my arm felt like jello and everything I threw went straight to the ground.”

Baseball’s loss was running’s gain.

Last Thursday, Feb. 9, Dibble set the school record for the mile with a time of 4:29.64 in the CIAC Class LL Championship at Hillhouse High in New Haven in just his third indoor track season.

“To go sub 4:30 is very difficult,” according to MHS outdoor track and field coach Thayer Redman. “Even our great runners – Matt Anderson, Dave Krinjak, Tyler Driscoll – none of them broke 4:30 indoors.”

Redman, who was named the 2011 High School Coach-of-the-Year by the Connecticut Sports Writer’s Alliance last month, led the Indians to their first outdoor track and field state championship since 1948 last spring. And Dibble played a role in the victory.

“He ran in the slow heat in the mile and came in seventh and we only won by one, so every point mattered,” said Redman, who was also nominated for national track and field coach-of-the-year honors last year. “We were pleasantly surprised. We knew that he was right there, but it was a very hot day and his first time at a state meet, so we weren’t sure how he would handle it. And sometimes being in the slower heat, you get lost and don’t have an idea where you are.”

Dibble had been chasing the record since last spring when his times were in the 4:31 range. The final two seconds were difficult to shave off, but running with the state’s top milers help set his pace at Hillhouse.

“I was shooting for it the whole season and knew I was close,” said Dibble, who feels he is a better runner on flat surfaces but has the most fun during the fall cross country season. “I didn’t  feel like it was a great race, but most of the season I didn’t really run with people, so it was a competitive heat, and I think that really contributed to it. I knew that this was going to be my last race so it’s a big relief to finally get it.”

Dibble’s record setting mile was his last race of the indoor season - by choice. The 16-year old, who was born in Georgia and moved to Manchester six years ago, passed on the opportunity to run in the state open meet on Saturday for a diplomacy trip overseas with his church. Dibble, who participated in a year-long development program (Quest), is one of two youths from the First Baptist Church of Manchester who will take part in the Baptist Convention of New England’s annual youth mission trip.

“He is a fantastic kid - considerate of others, helpful,” Redman said. “How many kids would take out of their year to do that? He is sacrificing a chance at the state open for something that he feels is more important. Our goal as a coaching staff is to help these boys and girls become young men and women and do what is right instead of what is easy. And he is clearly doing what is right."

About this column: Paul Ofria was the assistant director of athletics and sports information at Manchester Community College from 2008 -2011 and was part of the sports information team with the Manchester Silkworms of the New England Collegiate Baseball League for ten seasons (2000-09). He is also a drummer in a local band (41prospect), enjoys the biking, hiking, skating, the Beatles, old movies and wishes he could have hung out with George Carlin.