WESTON, Conn. – Fairfield Prep’s Kenny and Chris Collins are the fastest baseball players in the state. This winter, the Weston boys exploded out of the blocks as track sprinters for the Wilton-based Connecticut Elite.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that if they pursued it full-time they’d be among the top three sprinters in the state,’’ said their coach, Kevin Foley.
The Collins brothers, who are seniors at Prep, met Foley in November at Wilton Sports and Fitness while working out. Foley encouraged them to try track. “We had always thought about it, but never really had the time,’’ Kenny said. “Better late than never, I guess.”
The brothers tried it as part of their winter baseball workouts. Foley has entered them in several meets, and the results have been eye-opening.
In the New Jersey Open championships in January, Kenny took third in the 60-meter dash in 7.2 seconds, and Chris was fifth in 7.37. They were the youngest sprinters in the finals, which included athletes ages 16 to 29. In the 200, Chris took third in 24.58 and Kenny was fourth in 25.24.
It was the first time either had the run the event. According to statistics on MileSplit.com, Chris’s 200-meter time is the 65th fastest in the country. Kenny’s time is 109th. Kenny has qualified for next month’s New Balance Indoor Nationals in the 60, and Foley expects Chris to be there with him. Kenny's fastest 60 is a 7.02 at the New York Road Runners College Invitational in January, where he finished fifth.
“We’re still figuring out a lot of the technical stuff,’’ Chris said. “We had the foundation from baseball, and we also played basketball. We weren’t starting completely new, but we definitely have a lot to learn.”
The brothers have to compete in Open competition, usually against athletes much older, because they are not affiliated with a high school.
“We weren’t even going to compete,’’ Chris said. “Then Coach Foley said we could compete against unattached runners. We’re racing mostly against Division 1 athletes. It has been a nice surprise to see how we do against them.”
Their track careers could be brief. Baseball is their primary focus, and both plan to play in college. Chris, who will attend Hamilton College, plays shortstop. Kenny is an outfielder and pitcher. They helped Prep finish 11-10 last season and also played during the summer for Team Connecticut, one of the state’s top AAU programs.
They believe their training with Foley will pay dividends on the diamond as well.
“I’ve always started the season a bit out of shape,’’ Chris said. “Hopefully this will make it an easier transition. I think it will help my lateral speed. Hopefully I can be in midseason form right from the start.”
“Last summer I was a lead-off hitter, and I bunted a lot, was stealing bases, used my speed any way I could,’’ Kenny said. “I think working with Coach Foley has inspired me to use my speed even more.”
While the brothers have their hearts set on playing baseball, a good performance at the New Balance meet could force them to readjust their plans. “We’ve been playing baseball since were 5 or 6 years old,’’ Kenny said. “That’s been a big part of our lives. We’ll just have to see what happens.”