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Thomaston girls cc ready to roll on

POSTED September 12, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                          Thomaston girls CC ready to roll on

 THOMASTON – If the 2010 season was a one-hit wonder for the Thomaston High girls cross country team, what a hit it was. But here’s the thing. It may be just a start, a beaming chapter in a shining story that has great potential to go on a whole lot longer and get even better.

            Last year will stand on its own whatever the future holds. It was that good. It was a season where the Bears moved from a succession of good teams to a great team.  The Bears didn’t exactly come out of nowhere but they certainly went somewhere into rarely reachable territory.

            A fourth straight Berkshire League title. Admirable but not new as evidenced by the number. But how about a first ever Class S state championship in dominating fashion at Wickham Park with four of the top six finishers wearing the bright yellow that beams Bears.

            That was a scrapbook season anyway you run it. It needed to go no further. State championships are not penny candy in any school. They are there to be cherished and remembered.  The season kept going, however.

            Needing a top eight finish in the State Open to become just the second team ever in Class S to qualify for the New England Championships, the Bears sped to a sixth place performance.

            Thomaston High School has about 170 girls. The number is important because it speaks to the magnitude of the accomplishment. Only St. Bernard’s – Montville had ever accomplished the feat. So the Bears were running against the Danburys (about 3,000 students) and Glastonburys of the world.

            In New England it was an eighth place finish. Astonishing. Yet, you get the idea at times that perspective is lost on some.

            “Somebody asked me if eighth was good,” said Thomaston coach Mark Olsen. “Are you kidding me? A school our size finishing eighth in New England.”

            It was truly a season for the ages. The one-hit part, however, well that’s part of the amazement and the glory of it all if you are a Bears’ fan or just an admirer of athletic brilliance.

            All the glitter of a year ago was produced by a precocious group that for the most part couldn’t produce a driver’s license, can’t get into a rated R movie unless with mom or dad or the back door was unlocked and was much closer to the seventh grade dance than the high school prom.

            The bulk of the points were scored by a passel of pint-sized pride starting with a trio of freshmen led by the coach’s daughter, Sabrina and her running soul mate, Becky Perugini. Olsen, her blonde hair flowing along with her feet, carries a big smile and casual passion for her sport.

            She has earned all kinds of honors running for the Litchfield Track Club and doesn’t seem a whole lot stressed by it all. “She kind of goes with the flow,” said dad / coach. Running in the Class S championships she just cruised by the opposition and then finished sixth in the State Open and 12th in New England.

            Proud and Passionate, she just kind of shrugs it off in an almost embarrassed fashion. Kind of like, isn’t that what I’m supposed to do. There is much the joy of running in here instead of the pressure of winning. And the feet? Well, they fly.

            Olsen often runs in tandem with Perugini. Often they finish together. Perugini is more of the hard driver according to Olsen. “Becky wants to be first at everything,” said Olsen. Third in the BL, second in Class S and 15th in the State Open says she is one of the very best.

            MacKenzie Blair is the underrated one. She is fast and she is depth. She is essential for the Bears’ success. Her sixth place finish in the BL and eighth in Class S was needed to make it all happen.

Sandwiched in between is the old lady of the group,” Cameron Chaplen.  Gregarious and always ready to run, she was fifth in the BL and fourth in Class S. Another All-Stater.

The scary thing is not just the talent. It is the age of the talent and the wealth. Teams usually hope for one or two and just maybe three quality runners. The Bears thrown four All-State caliber runners at the opposition and then have a number of teammates that most teams would love to have in their top echelon.

Last year, then-junior Laura Miller was the team’s fifth runner in the State Open. In the Berkshire League and New England’s it was Emily Nomandin who stepped up with a pair of fifth place finishes. Sarah Voor took her turn with a gritty 25th place finish in the State Open to ensure the team’s trip to the New Englands.

This season junior varsity champ Sarah Guay may move into the top five while sophomore Bryttany Thomas and freshman Hannah Abbott are pushing the top runners.

Bottom line – talent and plenty of it. And, three sophomores a junior and a bunch of underclassmen. The Bears aren’t going anywhere except to the finish line.

Unless strange things happen the Bears should win a fifth straight BL title. Olsen takes nothing for granted particularly in the Class S meet where once again Immaculate will be a formidable foe.

But, you do the figuring. Everybody is back from a year ago. They are young and still hungry. “My dad tells me that we could do big things in the New Englands in two years,’ said Sabrina Olsen.

One hit wonders are the Paper Lace’s of the world (remember the song,  “The Night Chicago Died” from the 1970s). A great chapter has been written. But, like any good story should, this could keep getting better and better.

Last year would be a great ending for most teams / programs. These Bears climbed to the mountaintop. The sites are now set on a bigger mountain.               

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