In 2017, Derby boys outdoor track standout Ken Little Jr. used that season as a learning experience despite coming away with a win in the 800 meters at the Class S meet (1:58.17) and the NVL meet (2:01.95).
“Last year as a junior, I took my lumps and losses but I used it as a learning experience,” said Little, who finished a disappointing ninth in the 800 at the 2017 State Open in 1:57.80. “I was inconsistent in the postseason and made some changes this season.
“Last year I ran hard in the regular season. I actually peaked in midseason with my personal bests in the middle of the regular season. Running hard in the regular season impacted my performamce in the postseason. This year I didn’t run as hard in the regular season and I didn’t start peaking until the postseason.”
As a result, Little dominated in the 800 in the 2018 postseason.
He won the 800 at the New England meet (1:53.06) and at the State Open (1:52.05). He won the 800 at Class S in a meet record 1:54.49 and won it at the Naugatuck Valley League meet in 1:58.74. As you can see above, compared to last season he made impressive improvements with his times.
He also had wins in the 1600 at the Class S meet (4:25.25) and at the NVL meet he won the 400 (50.19). He led the Red Raiders to a second-place team finish in the State Open with 46 points and team titles in Class S (115 points) and the NVL meet (152.5 points).
For his effort this season, Little has been named the Register’s Area boys outdoor track Most Valuable Player.
Derby coach Nick DiLuggo wasn’t surprised by Little’s success.
“One of Ken’s biggest strengths as a runner is he is really smart,” DiLuggo said. “He analyzes each race that is coming up and knows how to strategically run. He’s also a gutsy runner and embraces the pain when he trains and when he competes. He has the potential to be a very successful runner at the next level.”
Little said hard work contributes to his success. But his late kick and reacting to crowds are the real keys to his success.
“My strength comes toward the end of a race,” Little said. “I always start my late kick about 200 meters before the end of every race. I also feed off the crowd and the excitement the crowd creates cheering the runners at the end of a race. I start my late kick and the crowd carries me the rest of the way.”
Next up for Little: he will run track and cross country at Central Connecticut State.