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Boys Indoor Track & Field Player of the Year: Taj-Amir Torres of Amherst Regional

JASON PICARD
Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres, front right, has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Boys Track & Field Player of the Year.

JASON PICARD Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres, front right, has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Boys Track & Field Player of the Year. Purchase photo reprints »

Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres finally bought in to what his indoor track coaches had been preaching: put in the work, results will come.

Throughout the season, the 55-meter sprinter maxed out at practice and saw the results at meets. His times dropped so low that he qualified for the Championship Division at New Balance Nationals and for his efforts, Torres has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Boys Indoor Track & Field Player of the Year.

“It just comes with hard work. We preach here at Amherst if your not first your last,” Torres said. “We strive to be the best every time we get on the field or track.”

Coach David Thompson said Torres came into the season with a better attitude and willingness to work, which led to his success. Torres swept the 55 dash titles, winning WMass, Division 2, All-States and New Englands.

“A lot of that was I finally got him to trust me and put overtime work in the weight room and that helped him a lot,” Thompson said.

The extra time lifting and on machines showed Torres’ changed dedication. The added strength allowed him to improve his explosion out of the blocks, which is key in such a short race.

“You never know what can happen, it’s so short. It’s probably the most exciting race,” he said. “Every race stops to watch ... no one remembers the 1,000, but everyone remembers the 55.”

Maturing, Torres said, was a big part to his success this season. When colleges starting calling for football and track, he realized putting in extra work could be beneficial for both sports.

“On the field you have to be strong and fast, on the track you have to be fast and strong. They go hand in hand,” Torres said. “When I was younger, I was immature and I was prideful ... I didn’t realize the potential my coaches told me I had, so I didn’t care about the weight room.”

Thompson said the lifting program he gave Torres had a direct link to the dropping times.

“He’s gotten a lot stronger than he was his sophomore year,” Thompson said. “He’s been able to be more explosive out of the blocks, he’s been able to hold his top speed longer because he’s stronger.”

With the harsh winter and lack of indoor tracks, most workouts are limited to gym space, which has to work around other sports, leaving the weight room as the best options. By championship time, Torres felt at home on the track.

Torres said he felt his best at New Englands, which produced his fastest time of the year at 6.46 and pushed him out of the Emerging Elite class at nationals. While winning New Englands as a junior gives him a chance to defend his title, knowing success is possible if he puts in the work, Torres has upped the bar.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” he said. “That’s just a stepping stone. I want to go (back) to Western Mass., and win then, and then New Englands and win that, and then nationals, and win that, and then ...”

FIRST TEAM

Connor Cassidy, junior,

South Hadley

Connor Evans, junior,

Amherst Regional

Dominic Marconi, senior,

Holyoke Catholic

Avery Nortonsmith, junior, Northampton

Kelzy Rodrigues, junior,

Amherst Regional

Ryan Stender, senior,

Amherst Regional

Liam Sullivan, sophomore, Northampton

Taj-Amir Torres, junior,

Amherst Regional

Allen Vance, senior,

Amherst Regional

HONORABLE MENTION

Aidan Gilson, junior,

Northampton

Noah Jackson, senior,

Northampton

Philip Mathers, senior,

South Hadley

Arlo Siegal, junior,

Northampton

Joseph Tavares, sophomore,

Amherst Regional

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