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It's Tuxbury Time

POSTED October 20, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                              It's Tuxbury Time

            First a long time it was Jackie’s time. Now, it is Tuxbury time.

            They will crown a new Berkshire League girls cross country champion Friday at Black Rock State Park in the league championships. If the runner to cross the tape isn’t wearing Northwestern Regional colors and doesn’t answer to the name Annmarie Tuxbury it will be a major surprise.

            Jackie is Jackie Nicholas, one of Nonnewaug and the BL’s all-time great runners. Three-time BL champion, Class M champion, State Open champion. A dominant runner that ruled the Berkshire League. Nicholas could and did beat almost all opponents. But she could not outrun the graduation clock.

            So now it is Tuxbury’s turn. The soft-spoken senior was the one BL foe that caused Nicholas to stand up and take notice. It was Tuxbury that stunned Nicholas in an invitational meet at Nonnewaug a year ago. It was Tuxbury that finished second to Nicholas in the BL Championships.

            It is Tuxbury who instead of being intimidated and frustrated by Nicholas, learned from her and found incentive in her.

            “I like to run fast and with (Jackie) you always ran fast,” said Tuxbury. “I like running against Jackie. She always gave me a goal, she really pushed me. Running against her helped me. It’s been my goal to take the spot where she was.”

            If there has been pressure as the heir apparent there is no evidence of it.  Tuxbury has looked to improve her times from a year ago. Mission accomplished. There has been nothing in the season to date to suggest that her goal hasn’t been met. She has swept her BL competition and won invitational meets at Wickham, Windham and Stratton Brook.

            But before graduation catches her as it does all, there are races left to rule, more course to conquer.

            “(Winning) the BL title is something I would like to do,” said Tuxbury. “As for the states, I don’t know what everybody else is going to do on a given day. I go into the race and hope to run well.”

            Tuxbury was third in Class M and fourth in the State Open a year ago so nothing is out of the realm of possibility, all is in play.  Her strategy is part ingrained, part dictated. She tends to go out fast, it is her style. But, it will be tempered by who is in the race with her.

            How important is winning? You get somewhat of a mixed message from Tuxbury. She does not come across as a cross country assassin who needs to win. Still, she is a competitor. She wants the win, she can live without it, although she hasn’t had to.

            “If I run a good time and lose then there might have been things I could have done,” said Tuxbury. “If I’m pushed and run well then it is a good race.”

            Tuxbury has earned the respect from her peers and not just because of her flying feet. She carries herself in a friendly manner, an attribute not lost on the competition. Unless funny things happen in the BL meet, the Thomaston juggernaut will win a fifth straight title with their pack attack.

            But the Bears don’t mind Tuxbury leading the pack.

            “We like Jackie,” said Thomaston coach Mark Olsen. “She is a very determined runner who likes to run fast every time. She goes out quick, that is her style, and runs until she drops. She is a very good runner.”

            Jackie had her day. This season is Annmarie’s day. It is Tuxbury time.

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