Edward Little's Connor Harris is the Sun Journal's boys indoor track athlete of the year. - Jose Leiva/Sun Journal
In indoor track, close is a relative term. It can also be a frustrating and encouraging term, sometimes simultaneously.
Edward Little's Connor Harris came tantalizingly close to some remarkable achievements in his sophomore season. Even though he tied for the high mark, he missed the Class A state title in the high jump because his competitor, cleared the bar one jump earlier.
He barely missed three school records — triple-jump by 1/4 of an inch, the high jump by an inch, and most points in a season by a point (in two fewer meets than record-holder Colby Brooks).
But Harris' 24 points at the Class A state meet did shatter Brooks' school record. He's already sixth all-time in scoring at EL after just two seasons. And with a state title in the triple jump and KVAC titles in the triple jump and high jump, the sophomore seems to be well on his way to collecting as much hardware as Brooks and other Red Eddie track greats, especially after being named the 2011 Sun Journal Boys' Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
The best part about it is, he did a lot of this on his own, Edward Little coach Ryan LaRoche said. He worked his tail off, and a lot of the times when he was working on his jumps, he was on his own.
Not only was he on his own, but due to EL's practice schedule and facilities, he was often pressed for time in the pits.
The only times we could jump were when we were (practicing) at Bates, LaRoche said, and those practices are an hour-and-a-half two days a week, and those don't start until the week that we start meets. His time in the pits was very limited.
LaRoche, who doesn't claim to be a jumps expert, provided what feedback he could, but when it came to refining his craft, Harris said his best sounding board was teammate Darnell Hairston, another top jumper in the KVAC.
Thankfully, I had Darnell with me, he said.We would kind of go off each others' jumps and tell each other what our flaws were and what we did well. That was one of our big things on the track team. A lot of people did that this season, not just at high jump but at all of the other events.
LaRoche encouraged peer coaching, and said Harris was one of his best assistants.
I tried to help the team as much as I could, Harris said. We stick together, We try to help each other as much as possible.
One of 14 boys in the state named to the Maine Track and Cross Country Coaches' Association All-Star team, Harris impressed LaRoche with his self-discipline and maturity.
He's a real modest kid, very coachable, he said. His parents got him into the martial arts, so he understands the humility and the dedication and you can't coach that. It's nice to have that's this good and comes in with a positive attitude every day, wants to help other kids every day...
Harris said his martial arts background helps him keep competing in perspective.
When I head out on that track field, I don't really think of the other teams as other teams. I think of them as challengers, people trying to help me into doing my best, he said. For instance, (Mt. Ararat star) McKenzie Gary. I don't look at him as an adversary. I look at him as someone who challenges me to do better.
I try to instill that in other people, he added. Just do your best and anything's possible.
Harris proved that by exceeding his own expectations this season.
I thought maybe I would get somewhat close, he said, but definitely not as close as I did.