Chris McConnell didn't wait until track season to wow onlookers with his speed.

Entering the game late in Andover football's win over Methuen, he took a handoff up the middle, flew past the entire defense and scampered 40 yards untouched into the end zone. His speed was a hot topic after that game, but that is nothing new to the sophomore.

McConnell exploded onto the area track scene a season ago, standing out at All-States and setting a school record in the 55-meter dash (6.60).

And he feels like that was only the beginning.

"Last year I was just getting used to how to train," said McConnell. "This year I am focused on going harder and am working to really improve."

McConnell did pretty well for someone getting used to the sport. He placed fourth at All-States (6.61) after setting the school record in the preliminaries. That was the fourth best time in The Eagle-Tribune coverage area over the last 12 years. He then took 10th at New Englands (6.62).

"In my 19 years of coaching track and many years of observing track," said Andover coach Peter Comeau, "he is among the most talented sprinters I have seen. He is the real deal. He is a star."

But it is his time in New Englands that is still driving him.

"I believe that if I had run my best time, I could have made the finals," said McConnell. "This year I am motivated to work on my start and get ready for New Englands. The race is so short that the start is everything. I imagine myself getting out of the blocks as soon as the gun goes off. You have to have a good reaction to the gun and explode. If you make a mistake, you're done."

McConnell hasn't relaxed since his sensational freshman campaign. He played on the JV and varsity baseball team, then served as a kick returner, special teamer and backup running back for the football team.

"I think football has helped me a lot," he said. "As a running back, you need speed. It helps me stay in shape and get stronger. I love football and would never quit for anything."

Running is in McConnell's blood. His father, also named Chris, was a standout distance runner for Reading High and Northeastern. He was a member of the Huskies' distance medley team that set a school record of 9:53.31 in 1978-79. The record still stands.


Top competitors: Steve Lattari, Sr., shot put; Varun Bhandari, Sr., shot put; Phil Giguere, Jr., shot put; Sean Levowski, Sr., shot put; John Bigelow, Sr., high jump; Santi Costello, Sr., dash; Andrew Osborne, Soph., high jump; Chris McConnell, Soph., dash; Matt Vetere, Jr., dash; Brendan Crawford, Jr., 300; P.J. Farnham, Sr., sprints; Adam Marget, Jr., 300; Jake Ponti, Soph., hurdles; Andrew Pallotta, Soph., hurdles; Mark Gong, Soph., hurdles; Rob Martin, Jr., 600; Connor O'Neil, Soph., 600; Mark Vetere, Soph., 600; Andrew Speen, Jr., mile; Tommy McQuillan, Jr., mile; Adam Vetere, Jr., mile; John Conley, Jr., mile; Sean McQuillan, Frosh., mile; Mike Primes, Sr., 1,000; Chris Goodwin, Soph., 1,000; Jeff Pirro, Sr., 1,000; Matt Somma, Jr., 1,000; Nick Schumacher, Soph., 2-mile; Mike McQuillan, Frosh., 2-mile; and Ben Stacey, Soph., 2-mile

Candidates in all grades: 150

Coach: Peter Comeau

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