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Sabrina Olsen runs past Class S field

POSTED November 03, 2010
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson


            MANCHESTER – She seemed unfazed by it all, a permanent smile the only hint that this had been the biggest of big days in a young runner’s career.

Oh, you could tell something was going on by the hugs coming her way and the reporters waiting for a minute of her time. Dad coming by and planting kiss on her cheek might have been a telltale sign. But if you just happened by you might have thought somebody told her a joke or maybe she had just been tickled.

It is Sabrina Olsen’s way – she lets her feet do the talking. And they spoke awfully loud Saturday at the Class S Cross Country Championships at Wickham Park. School history loud.

The first Thomaston High girl to ever win a cross country title on a day when the Golden Bears won their first girls team title. If that was all you knew it would be enough. A state champion, worthy of a salute any time any day.

But you know there is more here, much more. She is a freshman, less than a marking period into her high school life. The driving license is miles down the road, the prom not yet on the calendar and voting something to be done long after Obama is gone.

Yet, a state champion in the record books with so many quality miles yet to run.

Dad is the coach and becoming a coaching legend as the years and titles pile up. Yeh, I know, a big, weighty word. But we’re up to five state titles, four on the boys side, 10 BL titles and there isn’t a hint of gray in the hair that would make John, Paul, George and Ringo proud.

There is the family legacy. Big brother Josh won the Class S title in 2006 and `07. Big brothers Tim and Gabe were also fine runners. In the Olsen family there is running in the legs.

Now there is Sabrina. She is no surprise, however. She is an All-American running for ageless running guru Dave Driscoll of Litchfield during the summer. He has been talking about her since the grammar school days not so long ago.

If there is pressure because of pedigree and past performance she doesn’t show it or doesn’t know it. She runs free. The top two runners in the Berkshire League were clearly defending state open champion Jackie Nicholas of Nonnewaug and Northwestern Regional’s Annemarie Tuxbury.

After that however were Thomaston’s dynamic duo of Olsen and Becky Perugini. For them it is on a given day. They ran together all year, sharing the fun and the finish line. At the BL Championships, Perugini won by a freckle, it was that close.

You get the idea each could care less and be content in the other one’s success. How close are they? Well, Olsen says if she could invite three people together it would Hannah Montanna, Steve Prefontaine and Perugini. Pretty good company.

On this day it was Olsen. She ran free and strong. Heading down the stretch run Olsen had blown out the Class S field. 

This was no wire job. She was a long figure at the tape. the distant silhouette of Perguini, 22 seconds behind, about the only other life form other than fans and coaches. . Did I mention she is a freshman.

Her time would have been top 10 in all the classes. It was a peak performance that made for a peak day.

Coach and dad were proud. There are nearly 20 assorted team and individual cross country and track titles accumulated so far in the Olsen family. State titles are very comfortable in the Olsen household.

But, this was the daughter. The freshman daughter. Dad / coach admitted to a tear in the eye. He also talked about how proud he was. Mark Olsen knows his teams have won a lot. He knows that part of that territory is not everybody is rooting for you.

“We’re kind of like the Yankees, if you don’t love them, you hate them,” said Olsen. “Not everybody was rooting for us.”

It is a price of success. It is probably an aspect of winning that Sabrina hasn’t thought about it. That is good.

She finished the race, took her congratulations which included a call from mom, Joyce who was watching Josh run for American University. With the fitting term, `gazelle’ written on arm she almost radiated, `what’s the big deal,’ smiled and relished sharing the day with her teammate who had run so well.

In one poignant moment, senior Britteni Simpson of Capital Prep, the No. 7 finisher, sought her out and told her how she proud she was of her.

Then it was teammate time. Attired in their Russian hats, an aura of championship accompanying their every move, it became a day of play as they watched the boys team run and continued to accept congratulations.

Sabrina Olsen arrived at crisp Wickham Park very early Saturday morning with high hopes. She left at midday in the middle of high times. A state champion with a big smile. She didn’t act like a big deal. But it isn’t her style.

But, her feet did the talking and they talked history. In the Olsen household where they are used to big deals, this ranked right up there. By the way, did I mention she was just a freshman.        

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