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Thomaston girls look for 7th straight CC title

POSTED October 17, 2013
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                                     THS girls run for 7th straight title


            THOMASTON  - There is a sense that maybe the impossible is possible this year at the Berkshire Cross Country Championships. Of course perception and reality maybe don’t always jive either.

            The impossible for the last six seasons has been anybody defeating the Thomaston girls running machine.  The Golden Bears have owned Black Rock State Park and the Championships like the Red Sox own the beard market these days.

            Six straight titles in mostly overwhelming fashion, fueled by a relentless pack attack that has rarely produced an individual winner but sends swarms of golden-clad runners swarming past the finish line one right after another.

            It all has become part of the legacy of this program now, a story that continues and includes 69 straight dual meet wins, two Class S titles, two top-six finishes in the State Open and two appearances in the New England Regionals.

            The Bears are a program of New England renown, its brilliance echoing over a wide area.

            But has the time come? Will Friday tell a different tale? An unheard of question in recent years but have the Bears flying feet finally been caught?  Maybe not, but even Thomaston coach Mark Olsen can understand why there be a bit hope in some of the other BL running camps this time around.

            “Nonnewaug might have in the back of their minds that they could upset the apple cart,” admits Olsen.

            Why? Simple. The two teams tied in the BL Scrimmage at the beginning of the season and Nonnewaug would have won in a tie breaker. Thomaston returned the favor in a dual meet but the Chiefs did not have their top runner, Bridget Nicholas.

            The Bears have always done it with depth and that element is thinner these days. There has been at times less pack to the attack.  Yep, there’s hope out there. But, Olsen also cautions anybody about getting real crazy.

            “We struggled early in the year with getting five (girls) up there but 5-6-7 did get up there. They have improved greatly,” said Olsen. ‘”What was a weakness early in the year is not significant any more. I don’t think there are seven girls in before our seven girls.”

            The runners Olsen is talking about and the ones that hold a true key to the Bears’ fortunes are seniors Bryttnie Thomas and Sarah Guay along with sophomore Haley Pinho.”

            They are all within 20 seconds of one another and you never know which is going to come in first,” said Olsen. ‘We could put them in any order and not be wrong. That gives us an inside even in if one doesn’t do that well.”

            Of course the Bears’ power core starts with senior sensation Sabrina Olsen. How good is she? Well, for one, she has never been mentioned this far down in any article on the cross country team.

            Olsen is the defending BL champion, the first time a THS girl has ever won the title. But, it all started before that. She is a former Class S champion, All-Stater, All-New England and All-American. The most decorated runner in THS girls history.

            Barring any unusual circumstances she will add a second title to the resume Friday. And convincingly according on the BL coach that isn’t her dad – ‘Sabrina Olsen will win the girls race by 45 seconds.”

            After Olsen comes senior Becky Perugini, also with a running-rich resume that includes All-BL and All-State honors. Perugini is the favorite to finish right behind Olsen. Sophomore Sammi Brier is the very solid third runner that helped the Bears to a perfect dual meet record.

            Do the Bears feel pressure to it all with the whispers around this season? To a degree, the past and present is their pride and pressure.

            “(The streak) means a lot. It is our senior year and if we lost we would be disappointed,” said Perugini. “We make jokes about (the streak). We say that if we lost all those runners before us would be disappointed. We are doing it for them and us.”

            “The only pressure is that some of our seniors don’t want to screw it up,” added Mark Olsen. “Sabrina, Becky, Bryttnie, Sarah and Meg (Fainer) really have never lost. We talked about it before the Nonnewaug meet and blew their doors off.”

                In recent years, the only intrigue for Olsen’s team has been not will it win, but by how much. This time around isn’t so simple. But if you listen to the footsteps there is a good chance it will be another Golden Bear day in a long trail of Golden Bear days as they look for their seventh title in a row.      

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