Thomaston girls back on top in BL cross country
WATERTOWN – The Bears were back Friday afternoon. Boy were they ever.
In a performance reminiscent of its not so distant past domination, The Thomaston High girls cross country team overpowered its Berkshire League brethren to capture its first Berkshire League title since 2013 and eighth in program history.
Sparked by a second straight BL championship run from junior Maegan Desmarais (20:33.4), the Bears took five of the top seven spots to cruise past their closest competitor Nonnewaug, 19-66, on a chilled fall day at Black Rock State Park.
During a nine-year run from 2006 through 2015, there was always a Bear or a host of the Bears wrapping themselves in titles. Thomaston won seven straight team titles from 2006 through 2013 with Sabrina Olsen winning individual honors in 2012 and 2013 and then Sammi Breier keeping pace by winning consecutive crowns in 2014 and 2015.
The program’s legacy established by those teams has a vibrant shelf life.
“Those teams inspired us, we have strong dedication to the sport,” said senior Briana Grecco (20:35.8) who finished just two seconds behind Desmarais. “Mr. Olsen gives us strong motivation and we have such a strong team bond, it makes it all worth it.”
“It’s very cool to be part of that legacy,” said Desmarais.
Here’s also another thought. Despite a squad that isn’t far from needing a Volkswagen to get to meets with just eight runners, six are back. Next year looks good, but Olsen just chuckled at a comment about another dynasty.
“You don’t build dynasties with eight runners,” he laughed.
If the result was vintage so was the method of victory. This was a good old brown and gold pack attack. Desmarais and Grecco were followed by freshman Payton Mozelak (21:39.9) who placed fifth, junior Kiersten Sundell who finished sixth (21:47.9) and freshman Kiera Fainer who placed eighth (22:01.1).
The result was no surprise as Thomaston posted an 8-0 dual meet record but it was mighty impressive.
“This feels great,” said Olsen. “The girls came close last year and this year we had wonderful additions and worked hard. The focus was on being a great team. This is a great mesh of talent. We would have been disappointed if we hadn’t done well.”
Thomaston went 8-0 last year but found itself lacking in depth in the BL Championships finishing third behind Shepaug and Lewis Mills. Not this time around with the addition of Mozelak and Fainer.
“We did well in the BLs last year but struggled with the four and five spots,” said Olsen. “Payton (Mozelak) and Kiera (Fainer) looked good on middle school and have done a really good job.”
Clearly the ringleader of the running Bears, however, is the steely Desmarais. As the defending champion she came into the meet as the heavy favorite and lived up to billing despite a determined effort by her talented teammate, Grecco.
“There was a lot of pressure to win again and I didn’t want to let people down,” said Desmarais. I didn’t get in front of the pack until the last half mile. I didn’t doubt myself. I thought Briana had a chance to win and I’m proud of both of us.”
And when all was said and done, Desmarais was focused on the upcoming Class S and State Open meets but knows she has a chance to do something special next season too.
“In my mind, I’m thinking about the rest of this season but it would be cool to be the first (at Thomaston) to win (the BL title) three times” she said.
First place is always cool and there were a family of Bears feeling very cool Friday afternoon. Once again back on top.
Berkshire League Championships
At Black Rock State Park, Watertown
Girls Results (3.1 miles)
Team Results: 1. Thomaston 19; 2. Nonnewaug 66; 3. Shepaug Valley 70; 4. Northwestern 89; 5. Housatonic Valley 140; 6, Litchfield 144; 7. Gilbert 190; 8. Wamogo 193.
Individual Results (Top 15): Maegan Desmarais (T) 20:33.4; 2. Briana Grecco (T) 20:35.8; 3. Katie Deforest (TV) 20:46.0; 4. Maddie Woodward (N) 21:17.9; 5. Payton Mozelak (T) 21:39; 6. Kiersten Sundell (T) 21:47.9; 7. Isabel Eddy (S) 21:55.9; 8. Kiera Fainer (T) 22:01.1 9. Eilish Foy (S) 22:21.7; 10. Kadija Crapo (L) 22:41.3; 11. Emma Perun (S) 22:49.3; 12. Helene Berger (N) 22:56.3; 13. Lily Mills (N) 23:03.5; 14. Madeline Adams (NW) 23:26.2; 15. Bethany Adams (NW) 23:32. 6