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Thomaston, Shepaug run to State Titles. Bears' Olsen takes Class S crown.

POSTED October 30, 2010
BY Rick Wilson
Twitter: @scribewilson

“I love how we kill ourselves for awesome reasons.”

                                     Thomaston’s Laura Miller



            MANCHESTER – Thomaston High’s Laura Miller was speaking about her Golden Bear teammates Saturday morning but certainly the sentiment applied to Shepaug Valley as well.

After all, what’s more awesome than winning a state title as both teams will tell you.

The Berkshire League took its cross country party on the road to the brisk confines of Wickham Park, but just eight days after the BL Championships not much had changed except the location.

Once again the undefeated BL champion Golden Bears with three freshmen, a sophomore and junior were dominant, winning the first girls state title in school history while crowning their first individual girl state champion as freshman Sabrina Olsen stormed to victory with a 23-second margin over second place teammate Becky Perugini.

Shortly after the Bears did in Immaculate-Danbury, 38-59, and continued their relentless march to what they hope will result in the first ever New England Regional appearance by a Class S team, Shepaug repeated its BL Championship effort by putting it all together to outdistance second place Bolton, 64-83.

Litchfield finished fifth in the girls race while Litchfield and Thomaston finished third and fifth respectively in the boys race.

As has been their custom the Bears overwhelmed the finish line with a sea of gold, taking three of the top four spots and four of the top eight positions as Olsen and Perugini were quickly followed by Cameron Chaplen in fourth place and MacKenzie Blair in the eighth spot.

Sarah Voor clinched the meet with an all important 25th place finish in the fifth spot.

“Oh my God, we have been talking about this all the time in practice,” said Chaplen, now a two-time All-Stater. “We said we wanted it more than anything.”

“It’s very nice because we thought we had a good team,” said coach Mark Olsen. “You would really want to win under those circumstances. I think Immaculate (2nd place) feels the same way. I’m sure they are said right now.”

There were some tears in the Bears’ camp and Olsen admitted he produced a few of them. Sabrina is his daughter, and coach had to share some time with dad. He gave her a kiss on the cheek after her victory and some warm words.

Olsen’s son Josh won two Class S boys title (2006, `07) but watching one of your own is always special.

“It’s very satisfying, I have to say there was a tear in my eye at the end of the race,” said Olsen.

Sabrina Olsen led from start to finish, winning by a comfortable margin.

“It feels very good,” Sabrina said. “We’ve been working up to this day and I just wanted to win this. I just worked the hill because dad tells me I’m good on hills.”

Thomaston, ranked No. 3 in the state will attempt to qualify for the New England Friday afternoon back at Wickham Park.

Shepaug was much less sure about its victory for a good 20 minutes after the race. It figured to be a foot fight with Bolton and it was indeed a nail biter. In fact, coach Tom Scarola, a sixth grade match teacher, kind of thought his team might have been edged out.

He was gloriously wrong. The Spartans stood on the hill, clasping hands by their camp as the announcer read off the scores and produced an impressive eruption when it was clear the title had come their way.

As one fan put it, “Shepaug nailed it down.”

You need an explanation for this one. Junior Cody Brennan finished No. 20 in the crucial No. 5 position, insuring the Spartans’ victory. It was an effort that will long be remembered.

Right before the race on the warm-up trail, Brennan stepped on a nail that went into his foot about a quarter on an inch. It might have been the best thing that happened to the Spartans.

“He ran his best race ever,” said an appreciative Scarola.

“I knew what I had to do and I knew I had to beat (Bolton’s) four and five runners,” said Brennan. “It was painful at the start of the race but during the race it went away and the adrenalin took over.”

The Spartans’ power up front was also crucial as Andy Pullaro came in second, nine seconds behind winner Adam Seften of Bolton and 12 seconds ahead of Thomaston’s Blake Fenwick who won the BL title a week ago. Ken Heyne was 11th and Evan Garrity and Matt Griffith finished 15th and 16th respectively

“The last mile (Seften) put a little distance between us and I couldn’t close it. He is really strong,” said Pullaro of his race.

Scarola took a moment to wipe away a tear or two of his own after it was done.

‘We hoped to have a good day on the right day,” he said. “These guys really wanted this day for a long time. They have overcome a lot.”

As Miller said it was all for an awesome reason.



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