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Great day at the BL Cross Country Championships.

POSTED October 23, 2010
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

   WATERTOWN – One last Berkshire League blast of brilliance for Nonnewaug’s Jackie Nicholas. One more golden day for the Thomaston’s precocious pee-wees. One impressive BL career-ending statement from Blake Fenwick. One great time for the Shepaug Valley boys’ team.

It was just another one of the memorable Berkshire League cross country championship days at a rapidly chilling Black Rock State Park Friday afternoon. No major surprises but plenty to laud and admire. As one coach said when it was all done, “I think everyone had fun.”

You can start anywhere but how about with Nicholas. There was nothing left for the gifted senior coming into the race, she has done it all. State open champion, two-time Class M champion, prior to the meet a two-time BL winner. This was adding to the resume territory.

But, there was at least a challenge looming. Northwestern’s Annemarie Tuxbury has pressured Nicholas throughout her high school career, establishing her own proud credentials and seemingly always right behind Nicholas.

This time around, some thought it might be her time. She had set the Nonnewaug course record earlier this season and already beaten Nicholas. Nicholas then took the record back. You expected a wire job.

Nicholas was having none of it. She raced the final 150 yards alone in her excellence not another soul in sight as the crowd looked on. Her time of 18:28 broke her own course record by 19 seconds last year.

“I really wanted to win, its’ my senior year,” said Nicholas. “I’m pretty happy with my time. I was look to go out fast and push the second mile. I think I pulled away a little before the end of the first mile.”

Tuxbury could only smile and admit that Nicholas was too good on this day.

“I was going to try and hang in there with (Nicholas) but couldn’t keep up with her,” said Tuxbury. “She just pulled away.”

The girls team race belonged for the fourth straight year to coach Mark Olsen’s team, that is the No. 3 ranked team in the state by the way, that barely knows what a driving license is and could just make running life miserable on a major level for opponents for the next couple of years.

There was Nicholas, Tuxbuy and then Thomaston in pack mode. Becky Perugini, Sabrina Olsen, Cameron Chaplen and Mackenzie Blair flooded the finish line with gold taking spots 3-6.

Here’s the thing. Perugini is a freshman, Olsen is a freshman, Blair is a freshman. Chaplen, well, she is the grizzled veteran of this group, a sophomore. Oh, by the way, Emily Normandin finished 14th. She is a old, old, old – a junior.. 

Olsen’s refers to his cruisers as pee-wees but only in age. In talent, they are giants and still growing. Undefeated regualar season, four Invitational meet wins.  Big-time Bears.


“The pee-wees are a lot of fun and I think they are having fun,” said Olsen. “There were no big surprises and our girls had no surprises although we had a couple of flip-flops. But, I tell them we run against other teams no each other. “

Perugini thought the day was fun but couldn’t help looking ahead.

“It’s going to be cool to see our team come along the next four years,” said Perugini.

I’m not sure cool is what the rest of the league is thinking.

The boys race was supposed to be a free-for-all between undefeated Nonnewaug, Shepaug and Litchfield. It was the Spartans, led by Andy Pullaro’s second place finish that eeked out a 47-51 win over the Chiefs.

Every point was big but how about the performance of Evan Garrity who finished eighth. When asked what was the difference, the Spartan team en masse said Garrity. Why? A stretch kick to be admired.

“I passed three people in the final stretch and two were from Nonnewaug,” said Garrity

Coach Tom Scarola was like a proud papa as he told his team they wouldn’t want to miss the medal presentation.

“This team had to come a long way and overcome a lot,” said Scarola. “We were clearly not the best team even midway through the season. I feel very fortunate we had our day today. We hoped to challenge and we knew we had to step in front of Litchfield and Nonnewaug. We were able to do that. We are very fortunate”

Nobody wore a bigger smile on the day then Thomaston’s Fenwick who repeated as champion. He and Pullaro have waged a back-and-forth dual all year long. The race was considered wide open and Fenwick closed it out becoming the sixth straight winner from Thomaston.

Last season Fenwick benefited a bit when several runners took a wrong turn around a tree. He might have won anyway, but this year there was no doubt.

“Andy is phenomenal, it just came down to the end and whoever had the best day. It feels amazing when you come to a prestigious program that has done so much the last 10 years and now the girls are taking off. It’s amazing.”

It was in all, an amazing day.  .                  

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