SMSA Senior Keith Berrouet Connecticut’s Fastest Sprinter

SMSA Senior Keith Berrouet Connecticut’s Fastest Sprinter

SMSA senior Keith Berrouet won the 55 meter dash championship at the Yale Classic in 6.42 seconds on Saturday. (Shawn McFarland / Hartford Courant) (Story republished from the Hartford Courant. JAN 15, 2020  10:00 PM)

Sports Medical Science Academy coach Graham Martin has seen a lot of track and field in his 48 years of coaching.

He hasn’t seen many like Keith Berrouet.

Berrouet, a senior, currently holds the crown of Connecticut’s fastest indoor sprinter. At the Yale Classic last weekend, he ran a state-best time of 6.42 seconds in the 55 meters, beating defending State Open champion Chris Pigatt of Hamden in the process. His mark is 18th best in the country as of Wednesday.

Martin has coached talented athletes. He’s seen few, however, who’s passion for the sport of track and field equals their talent. Berrouet has that. He’s seen few with the closing speed of his star sprinter, who on Wednesday, at the Hartford City Championship at Hartford Public, ran the anchor leg of the 4×200 relay. He was handed the baton with his team trailing.

Berrouet chased down his opposition and passed him with relative ease with less than 100 meter left in the race to win the heat.

“He did a great job coming back to beat that kid,” Martin said. “I haven’t seen that, going back to my old days at Bulkeley … see somebody get walked down like that.”

He finished third in the 55 on Wednesday, running a time of 6.73 seconds with his mind on the Hillhouse Invitational in two weeks. HMTCA sophomore Jaelyn Butler won the race in 6.47. With 77 points, Weaver won the boys championship, while University won for the girls with 74 points.

Berrouet’s mark of 6.42 seconds would have won last year’s State Open by 0.09 seconds, though he has never tasted the highest level of indoor track in Connecticut. He missed the final at last year’s State Open, running a time of 6.69 in the preliminaries.

Eleven months later, and Berrouet looks like the early favorite to win it all come February.

“Anything is possible,” Berrouet, who also plays football for SMSA, said. “You put your mind to it, you can do it. That’s how I go into every race. I put my mind to it, I can win any race I come to.”

Berrouet says his season goal is 6.39. Martin believes he can get as low as 6.34. The major change in Berrouet’s development has been his preparation for races, and the technical side of the event. He has always been fast, but he’s shaved 0.29 seconds off of his time thanks to a better understanding of working with starting blocks, how to “finish races,” keeping his head down, how to warm up for competition, and developing a love for the sport.

“It’s the little things,” he said. “You do the little things, and it works.”

Added Martin: “He’s gotten bigger and stronger,” Martin said. “He’s got room for strength – he’s got the speed. I think last year, he didn’t have a real understanding of how to compete in a race. He’s fast, but there’s a lot involved.”

Berrouet had a day’s rest after the end of his football season, which saw the SMSA/Classical/University co-op qualify for the Class M state tournament. He likes football because it’s helped make him stronger, which directly translates to the track. He doesn’t love the wear-and-tear the sport puts on his body, though he stayed healthy throughout the fall season.

“It hurt,” he said of his body after football. “But I was ready. I was ready for track.”

He’s looking forward to the Class S state championship, where he’ll square off with Bloomfield’s crop of sprinters, and the Open, where he can finally prove himself as one of the state’s best.

He understands a target will be placed on his back now with his top time. It won’t change the way he approaches each race, though.

“It doesn’t really affect me,” he said.”I’ve just got to keep on doing me, keep on running. Keep on pushing.”