Tristan Smith is a record-setting shot-putter for Masuk.
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Record breaking Masuk shot putter competes in New Englands, Nationals

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The Nike Nationals in New York City and the New Balance Nationals in Boston featured star high school track and field athletes from all over the country earlier this month. Among them was Tristan Smith, 17, a Masuk High School senior who had also competed in the New England competition in Boston.

Smith, who is 6’3 and 240 pounds, holds Masuk school records for the shot put and discus, and his success with the shot put earned him invitations to compete in these high profile events.

“It was an amazing experience — definitely,” Smith said of going against athletes from all over the U.S. “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. Those kids from Texas are big and twice as strong as I am, so to be able to compete with them was a great experience.”

Smith first participated in track and field, while in middle school to get into shape for football, when he played for the Monroe Lions in town. He did track for two years and continued with the indoor and outdoor programs throughout high school.

He played football as a defensive end for Masuk all four years and this spring Smith will embark on his final outdoor track and field season.

Smith said he started to get more serious about track and field by the end of his sophomore year. “I do the hammer throw. I decided to try it, but shot put and discus are my best events,” he said.

His success with the shot put and the discus is what made Smith feel more passionate about the sport.

“I always knew I was strong and athletic,” Smith said. “When I tried it, I picked it up quickly. When I placed third at state opens in outdoor last year in the discus, I knew it was something I wanted to continue with, and not to pursue football in college.”

Smith will attend Central Connecticut State University next fall, where he will study exploratory business. Smith, who is an honors student, said he received a small academic scholarship and athletic money to enroll there. He will continue to compete in track and field.

Breaking records

Smith recently broke the Masuk Indoor Track shot put record of 48’11” with a 49’11.5″, and has since continued to improve to a current personal record of 55’10.75″, which is also the new school record.

Last spring, Smith broke the school discus record in June with a 160’9″, topping the previous record of 150’9″, which had stood since 1976. Smith’s best throw in the discus is 163’1″, but he said it is technically not the school record, because it was during a summer meet.

He is fifth in Connecticut in the shot put, which earned him the right to go to New England’s. Smith’s personal record of 55’10.75″ is what allowed him into the Championship brackets at both Nationals.

In the New Englands at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston on March 2, Smith threw a 54’6.5” and took seventh place, just one spot away from being All New England.

Then Smith went to the Nike Indoor Nationals at the Armory in New York City two Saturdays ago and to the New Balance Nationals at New Balance in Boston the next day.

At the Nike competition, he threw 53’7″, finishing 27th out of 36 in the Championship Division. Smith threw a 54’10” at the New Balance meet, finishing 25th out of 60.

Honing his skills

Smith has been influenced by several coaches along the way, including John Mihalco, who helped him with the shot put and discus during his freshmen and sophomore years.

“Then I coached myself with the fundamentals he taught,” Smith said. “I tried a new technique and started working with a club coach, Damian Larkin, last January.”

Coach Sarah Barrett, left, has stood by Tristan Smith’s side for most of his high school track and field career.

Sarah Barrett, Masuk’s former boys head coach, had been on the staff since Smith’s sophomore year and recently attended all of his March meets to cheer him on.

“I could not be more proud of Tristan’s accomplishments and his growth as a member of the Track & Field Program,” Barrett said. “His accomplishments are truly a result of his extraordinary passion, dedication, and determination for this sport. He has become a natural leader on our team over the years and sets an example for his teammates of what you can achieve when you are willing to put in the work.”

“On and off the field he is a kind, compassionate, and humble individual,” she said. “One of the joys of watching him at meets is watching him encourage and cheer on his competitors. His character and leadership made him a clear choice for our Coaches Award and Captainship this past year on the Track & Field teams.”

“I am excited to see what this upcoming spring season has in store for Tristan and look forward to seeing what he will go on to achieve as a student-athlete at CCSU,” Barrett added.

This spring, Terry Tyler will be head coach of the Masuk Panthers boys track and field team, while Barrett will coach the girls team.

“There’s definitely more opportunities to break records,” Smith said.

Masuk has two records left for Smith to go after — the outdoor shot put and the hammer. Improving on your throws takes a lot of technique and weightlifting, according to Smith.

“It’s really the repetitiveness and the consistency,” he added. “There’s no better feeling than a personal best — and I love the energy of big meets.”

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