East Windsor’s Canora continues to beat obstacles | Excessive Faculty Sports activities

NEW BRITAIN — In the two weeks between the Class S track and field championship meet and the state hammer throw championship Monday, Nick Canora needed to figure out one thing: how to complete the event with a broken hand.

“I was a little worried about throwing the hammer,” Canora said. “Luckily, I figured out a way to hold it with three fingers on my left hand and two fingers with my right. A lot of advanced throwers hold it that way.”

The East Windsor High senior’s new technique paid off as he overcame the injury and earned a third-place finish at Willow Brook Park.

Canora finished with a throw of 175 feet, one inch. Hillhouse’s Gary Moore Jr won the title (201-7) while Coventry’s Alex Krause was second (196-0).

“There was no way I was going to skip my last high school meet in Connecticut,” Canora said.

Canora cracked a metacarpal bone in his right hand during the Class S state meet here on May 31.

“My first thought was I shouldn’t do the hammer. I don’t want to make my hand worse because I’m throwing the 16-pound shot put next year (in college), so I have to keep my hand’s strength up,” Canora said. “But one day when I was practicing hammer, I picked it up and said ‘okay, let me try to adjust my grip.’

“I was like ‘this works perfectly, I don’t have to use my broken fingers or anything. I’ll just try to get used to it.’ After two days of practice, I was so used to it that I could throw as well as I was before. In fact, I think I can throw even better now.”

He was back in action at the New England hammer throw championships June 7 at Conley Stadium in Providence, where he finished 12th.

“That gave him an opportunity to try out this new hold,” East Windsor coach Dan Ward said. “I think last week was a tremendous boost of confidence. It kind of showed him that he’s going to be all right and he’s going to be able to do it. He just did a phenomenal job today.”

Canora said he’d never changed his hold on the hammer prior. With the new grip, he said he has a better feel for where the center of the ball is during his throws.

“Nick is a great kid,” Coventry coach Bill Vanderrest said. “He’s asked a lot of questions of anybody that’s willing to talk to him. He has worked really hard to get better.”

But the injury to his hand was only the latest setback Canora faced this year.

He dislocated his right knee in the fall.

“It was very fast. It popped in, popped out and popped right back in,” he said. “But it ripped off like 20 percent of my cartilage. They had reconstruct my ligament, they had to insert donor cartilage, and they had to move my tendon over.”

Canora underwent surgery in late December and started physical therapy at the beginning of February.

“I worked like crazy, like hours a day, moving my knee,” Canora said. “I didn’t want to lose any range of motion.”

By mid-April, Canora had resumed throwing. He missed only a month of the outdoor track season.

“He said ‘I’ll be fine. I’ll be able to throw,’” Ward said. ‘I said ‘are you sure? You can barely walk buddy. Save it for college if you need to.’ But nope, everything started to come really quick when he started to go to PT.”

Canora shines throughout the outdoor season. He broke the 20-year-old school record in the shot put, the 50-year-old school record in the discus and his own hammer throw record set last year.

He also won the NCCC shot put championship and finished second in the event at the Class S state meet.

“On one hand, I’m a little disappointed,” Canora said. “I came out of surgery and I PR’ed by about four feet in shot. I knew all the work I did over the summer and the fall translated to moderate gains even though I was out after surgery for three months. So in my mind, I knew that if I didn’t have the injury and trained trough, I would’ve been throwing mid 50s in shot.

“But on the other hand, I’m so grateful that I’ve been able to compete at a much higher level than I ever thought I could.”

Canora will continue his throwing career at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts next year. He plans on majoring in computer science, but may pursue the school’s dual degree program.

“That will be a really great time,” Canona said. “I know a lot of people that are at other New England schools, so I’ll be seeing them in the New England Conference. I’m pretty excited.”

But he’ll leave a tremendous legacy at East Windsor High.

“His work ethic is unmatched,” Ward said. “For him to accomplish what he did this year … that’s a credit to his work ethic. He’ll have that and he’ll be good to go to college. I can’t wait to see it.”

For coverage of the Connecticut Sun and professional women’s basketball, Hartford Athletic pro soccer team, as well as area high school and local youth sports, follow Adam Betz on Twitter: @AdBetz1, Facebook: Adam Betz – Sports Writer, and Instagram: @AdBetzJI .

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