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Gazette Boys Track & Field Player of the Year: Amherst Regional’s Taj-Amir Torres

  • MIKE MORAN<br/>Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres crosses the finish line in first place in the boys 4x100-meter relay at the District F&G Division 1 Championship meet, Monday at Minnechaug Regional in Wilbraham. JJ Sylla, Joseph Tavares and Xavia Perkins ran the first three legs.

    MIKE MORAN
    Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres crosses the finish line in first place in the boys 4x100-meter relay at the District F&G Division 1 Championship meet, Monday at Minnechaug Regional in Wilbraham. JJ Sylla, Joseph Tavares and Xavia Perkins ran the first three legs. Purchase photo reprints »

  • MIKE MORAN<br/>Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres anchors the winning 4x400-meter relay to a first place during the West/Central Division 1 championship Saturday at Westfield State University. Nick Smith, right, and Northampton finished third.

    MIKE MORAN
    Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres anchors the winning 4x400-meter relay to a first place during the West/Central Division 1 championship Saturday at Westfield State University. Nick Smith, right, and Northampton finished third. Purchase photo reprints »

  • MIKE MORAN<br/>Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres anchors the winning 4x400-meter relay to a first place during the West/Central Division 1 championship Saturday at Westfield State University. Nick Smith, right, and Northampton finished third.

    MIKE MORAN
    Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres anchors the winning 4x400-meter relay to a first place during the West/Central Division 1 championship Saturday at Westfield State University. Nick Smith, right, and Northampton finished third. Purchase photo reprints »

  • MIKE MORAN<br/>Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres crosses the finish line in first place in the boys 4x100-meter relay at the District F&G Division 1 Championship meet, Monday at Minnechaug Regional in Wilbraham. JJ Sylla, Joseph Tavares and Xavia Perkins ran the first three legs.
  • MIKE MORAN<br/>Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres anchors the winning 4x400-meter relay to a first place during the West/Central Division 1 championship Saturday at Westfield State University. Nick Smith, right, and Northampton finished third.
  • MIKE MORAN<br/>Amherst Regional junior Taj-Amir Torres anchors the winning 4x400-meter relay to a first place during the West/Central Division 1 championship Saturday at Westfield State University. Nick Smith, right, and Northampton finished third.

Taj-Amir Torres wasn’t going to sneak up on anybody this year.

The Amherst Regional sprinter finished his sophomore year with 100-meter dash victories at every postseason outdoor track & field championship through New Englands.

With a bull’s-eye on his back, Torres made sure every sprinter was left staring at it.

Torres finished his junior season with sprinting titles at the Western Massachusetts, West/Central and All-State meets. The only reason he didn’t defend his New England title was became New Balance Nationals was held on the same weekend. (He was 12th in the championship division at nationals.)

In addition to the 100, Torres also won the 200 at Western Massachusetts and anchored powerful 4x100 and 4x400 relays. For his efforts, Torres has been named the Daily Hampshire Gazette Player of the Year.

“It was nerve-racking” this year, he said. “It wasn’t like last year when no one knew anything about me. It made me run that much faster.”

Torres’ track season was essentially seven months long. The indoor season started in December and ran through mid-March. The outdoor season picked up a couple weeks later and ran through early June. Balancing workouts with making sure he was running against the best competition proved to be a challenge.

“It’s all about picking your races when to go as hard as you can, all about a lifting schedule, the type of work outs we do, ice baths,” Torres said. “By the time we hit June we were at full strength and ready to peak.”

Torres won the Western Massachusetts Division 1 100 in 10.82 seconds and the 200 in 22.05. The following week he won the West/Central 100 in 10.86 and the 200 in 21.76 seconds.

At All-States, Torres ran a personal-best 10.68 to win the 100. His national 100 was 10.81.

“It’s tough,” Torres said. “I will peak come states but it’s hard to peak at nationals.”

Torres went out with a bang thanks to teammates Allen Vance, Joseph Tavares and Kelzy Rodrigues. The group closed the season with a second-place finish in the 4x400 in the Emerging Elite Division at nationals. Their 3:18.92 time established a school record.

The two-time indoor and two-time outdoor player of the year has one more year left. In the fall, Torres will return to the football field at Amherst Regional. Last week, he verbally committed to play at Boston College.

“That was the right fit for me right now,” Torres said. “Nothing is set in stone until you sign the papers, but that’s where I want to play my college football. That’s ACC football and championship-level football. We play the top teams in the nation, the best players in the world. It’s an opportunity for me to show what I can do.”

Mike Moran can be reached at mmoran@gazettenet.com.

BOYS FIRST TEAM

Jamie Blinder, junior, Frontier Regional

Connor Evans, junior, Amherst Regional

Tim Foldy-Porto, junior, Northampton

Aidan Gilson, junior, Northampton

Larenz Harris, junior, Amherst Regional

Ben Hill, junior, Northampton

Noah Jackson, senior, Northampton

Leon Moore, sophomore, Northampton

Avery Nortonsmith, junior, Northampton

Xavia Perkins, junior, Amherst Regional

Kelzy Rodrigues, junior, Amherst Regional

Arlo Siegel, junior, Northampton

Nick Smith, freshman, Northampton

Saul Soto, junior, Frontier Regional

Ryan Stender, senior, Amherst Regional

Liam Sullivan, sophomore, Northampton

JJ Sylla, sophomore, Amherst Regional

Joseph Tavares, sophomore, Amherst Regional

Taj-Amir Torres, junior, Amherst Regional

Allen Vance, junior, Amherst Regional

HONORABLE MENTION

Daniel Belkin, junior, Northampton

Justin Blake, junior, Frontier Regional

Conor Cassidy, junior, South Hadley

Oliver Fox, junior, Frontier Regional

Collin Higgins, senior, Frontier Regional

Timber Lewinski, senior, South Hadley

Dominic Marconi, senior, Holyoke Catholic

Jay Patruno, senior, South Hadley

Andrew Piquette, junior, South Hadley

Rob Sailer, junior, Amherst Regional

Dylan Talbot, junior, Frontier Regional

Owen Wright, sophomore, Amherst Regional

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