Since breaking into the top echelon of long sprinters in Connecticut as a junior, Chris Colbert has been adding one milestone after another to his résumé.
His run of success continued at last Thursday’s FCIAC indoor track and field championships, as the Wilton High senior turned in a dominating performance to win the 300 meters at Hillhouse High School in New Haven.
Colbert’s time of 35.46 broke the FCIAC meet record of 35.5 that had stood since 2014. The time was just a tenth of a second off his school record, despite running on a flat track. He beat out his main rival, Malcolm Going of Danbury, by half a second.
It was his second career FCIAC championship (he was the FCIAC champ at 400 meters last spring) and gave him his third record. He holds the Wilton records at 300 meters (indoor) and 400 meters (outdoor).
“Since I began racing, my goal has been to constantly improve and help the team win. When I broke my first record I was honored by the fact that it had stood for decades. Now I am inspired to keep breaking records with hard work and dedication,” said Colbert.
He lowered his time from last year’s FCIAC meet (when he placed fourth) by 1.3 seconds. He has dropped his time by nearly two seconds since the 2015-16 indoor season.
Colbert goes into Thursday’s Class L championships with the top time (35.36), a Wilton High school record, which is also the second-fastest 300 in the state this winter.
It’s been a remarkable run, especially as track wasn’t on Colbert’s radar screen when he came to Wilton High. His focus was on football (where he played running back) and lacrosse, and he ran indoor track at the urging of his family to get ready for lacrosse.
“I resisted at first but quickly learned that the sport was awesome. I had the opportunity to run and train with the seniors, Colin Hussey, Konrad Kotonski and Dan Marino, on a 4×200 relay. I also experienced running under the guidance of role model Spencer Brown,” he said. “Ever since, I have fallen in love with the speed of the sport.”
Colbert ran only during the indoor season his first two years at WHS. In his first season, he ran the 45 and 55 meters, placing 15th in the latter at the FCIAC championships.
The next year, as a sophomore, he moved up to 10th at FCIACs in the 55 meters, and also took 10th in the 300 meters with a time of 38.91.
Colbert had his big breakout his junior year. He turned in a career-best 36.82 in the 300 in early January and later that month ran at 36.12 at the Yale Invitational, breaking Nat Toothaker’s school record of 36.19 that had stood since 1996.
He went on to finished fifth at the Class L championships and eighth at the State Open. He qualified as an alternate for the New England championships and placed 10th overall (and third among Connecticut runners) in 36.39.
Last spring, Colbert ran outdoor track for the first time and continued his progress. He won the FCIAC title at 200 meters and was second in the 400 meters. At the Class L championships, he set a new Wilton record in the 400 meters with 48.73, breaking Brown’s time of 49.21, on his way to a second-place finish. He was also third at 200 meters.
At the State Open, he placed third in the 400 and ninth in the 200 (a personal-best 22.38).
This year’s indoor season got off to a fast start when Colbert broke his own school record in the 300 meters at the Marine Corps Holiday Classic Invitational in New York City in late December with a 35.46.
He lowered his 300 time to 35.26 a few weeks later at the Yale Invitational, where he finished second in the 300 and third in the 400.
Colbert said his improving times is a reflection of his improved training. He began training with Kevin Foley, the coach for Connecticut Elite Track & Field, two years ago.
“Through my years with coach Foley I have learned the proper sequencing of warm-ups and the scientific reasons for why each exercise is effective and being executed properly. I have learned to work the different systems in my body, such as the anaerobic, aerobic, alactic, or glycolytic systems,” he said. “This has allowed me to learn the principles of periodization, which is how to properly train the body’s energy systems for peak performances.”
Colbert also attributed his success to his high school coach, Jim Gerweck, “who has given me valuable insight and guidance to succeed.”
Beyond Wilton High, Colbert will continue his track career at Yale, where he will be a sprinter on the track and field team.
In addition to big performances at this year’s big indoor meets, Colbert is looking ahead to the spring season, when he will focus on the 200 and 400. His goal is to qualify for and perform well at the New Balance Nationals.
“I am striving to break my 400m dash record of 48.73 and run sub 48 this outdoor season. I also am striving to break the 200m record of 21.9. I hope to run in the mid-21.5 range,” he said. “I believe that each year I can increase my times by 3%. I definitely think I will lower my times during the remainder of indoor season and outdoor season.”
The school record in the 200 meters (21.9) is one of Wilton’s oldest, set by Rich Sloper in 1961.