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Thomaston girls running into history

POSTED November 11, 2011
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

                                   Thomaston girls running into history

     Golden again.

     Golden refers to the Thomaston High girls cross country team and in case you missed it earlier this week, which is very possible due to a crazy set of circumstances, coach Mark Olsen’s collection of fleet feet won another Class S title while qualifying for the New England Regionals in the process.

     Why is this big deal? Well, any state title is a big deal to start with. But qualifying for the New England Regionals for a second straight year demands attention. That is almost exclusively reserved for the bigger schools with a wide reservoir of talent not Class S schools with less than 200 girls in the hallways. Schools that finished ahead of Thomaston include giants like Ridgefield and Guilford. 

     And now the Bears have done it two seasons in a row. That folks is off the charts. When Thomaston earned a spot in the New Englands a year ago with three freshmen and a sophomore leading the way it was only the second time in Connecticut CC history that a Class S school had qualified for the Regionals (top six teams in the Open).

     Now they have done it twice. It is nothing short of amazing. The Bears have been ranked in the ESPN Northeast Poll (8th) and consistently in the Connecticut polls. It is a tiny school but these are very  big-time Bears.

     Yet, you might have missed all of Tuesday’s transpiring’s for myriad of reasons most of which are directly traceable to the horrific storm of two weeks ago.

     When the Class S race became one of the casualties of the freak snowstorm Oct. 29 that enveloped Wickham Park in Manchester and was postponed, the final rescheduled date was Tuesday at Hammonassett State Park in Madison.    

     Problem No. 1 was the start time – noon. Now, and no offense to the CIAC which had three class championship races to run not to mention the State Open, noontime on regular school-work day is not going to allow for much school or even parental support.

     There were however other issues that conspired to push these races and the Bears into the sports background. Other sports were also catching up from having more than a week off due to the storm.

     In our area Tuesday, the NVL boys soccer title was decided with Woodland defeating Watertown. The NVL girls soccer title went to Watertown who defeated Naugatuck. The Berkshire boys soccer title stayed in Nonnewaug as the Chiefs nipped Housatonic by a goal. Nonnewaug finished off an undefeated season and took the BL title outright in field hockey with a win over Wamogo.

     In other words there was a heck of a lot going on as teams got their games in and titles decided on the last day before the state tournament began. The Bears got lost in the championship dance a bit here.

     Newspapers, the working ranks thinned out by all the games and titles being decided not to mention space, were in a tough spot. Let’s just say that coverage was thin. In one paper’s website (Danbury New Times) that focused on the Class S girls race, other than being noted as the team that won the Class S race there was not one mention of a Thomaston runner or any other reference to the Bears. All I can to that is wow and really?

     The Bears won a brilliant duel with Immaculate-Danbury, 30-35. Junior Cameron Chaplen led a 2-3-4 finish followed by Sabrina Olsen and Becky Perugini while MacKenzie Blair came in 8th and Sarah Guay 13th.

     The SWC champion Mustangs, who had beaten the Bears in the Wickham Invitational a month earlier by a slim margin had the winner, Maggie Christie,  but suffered an extremely unfortunate blow when their No. 2 runner Alexa Sakarafos fell and apparently broke her leg late in the race.  The Mustangs felt they would have won if Sakorafos had not fallen and had been able to finish.

     Thomaston’s Olsen does not agree which added that much more drama to the results.  When all the feet had crossed the finish line, however, it was once again the Bears who were the best.

     In the strangeness of the whole day, the runners in the class meets had their times merged into the State Open times to see who qualified for the New Englands. For three and a half hours the Bears waited around.

     Finally, after much figuring on a bizarre day in which the Class S girls, Class SS girls and boys could not race against their opponents in the Open, the Bears found out they had finished fifth.

     Another amazing achievement for a team that is being led by three sophomores and a junior. Maybe a lot of it got lost in the shuffle Tuesday. It really shouldn’t.

     The Thomaston High girls cross country team is not just winning titles. It is making history. That deserves some notice.

     Olsen’s squad runs Saturday morning at 11:30 at Ponaganset High School in North Scituate, R.I.   

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