In a sport that regularly turns out prime examples of heart and fortitude – long distance running – Sabrina Olsen stands out among the champions because she genuinely enjoys running, seemingly, the longer the better.
Witness her comments after her third straight state steeplechase championship earlier this month.
“The steeplechase is my favorite event in the state meet because it offers the least pressure. I’m not really expected to do much. It’s just fun.”
“Fun” for Olsen is running one of the most grueling events there is in outdoor track – 2,000 meters around a track made trickier by a hurdle fronting a water barrier – in 7:23.64.
“The water makes it the most fun,” laughs Olsen. “I did hurdles for three years.”
That’s the payoff for a girl who’s famous for endurance events.
A senior heading for Division I Syracuse August 16, Olsen’s crowning farewell to the Berkshire League was a BL Tournament sweep in the 800; 1,600; 3200; and anchor for the winning 4×800.
Any one of those events can sap the best athletes on a hot day. Olsen came up smiling after each of them – especially the 4 x 800.
“I knew the 4 x 800 was going to be tough against Nonnewaug,” she said. “I just trusted my girls (Bryttnie Thomas, Becky Perugini and Sammy Breier) to run the times we needed and they did. It gave me a chance to go a little slower, but I still did one of my best times. I finished smiling because we did so great.”
In a sport that can produce great individualists, Olsen is the ultimate team player, often finishing cross country races intentionally neck-and-neck with teammates at the front of the pack.
The relay team went on to a Class S runner-up spot this year after winning the championship a year ago.
Olsen did even better, with Class S championships in the 1,600 and 3,200, then a 10th place finish at New England’s in the 1,600, where she also ran the 3,200 on “a really, really hot day.”
Toughness, fun and love for running come naturally in an Olsen family that makes running a way of life.
Dad, Mark is Thomaston High School’s long-time championship track coach. Mom, Joyce was Sabrina’s soccer and softball coach in middle school.
Four older brothers all had a hand in Thomaston championships.
“I’m following in their footsteps,” said Sabrina. “The second oldest, Josh, is still running after college. He’s still my inspiration.”
Olsen herself – four-time All-New England; nine-time All-State; seven-time All-BL – serves that role for hundreds of Connecticut youth runners.
Now, she takes it to Syracuse where she’ll run cross-country and indoor and outdoor track. She’ll run with just three other freshmen on the team – one each from Pennsylvania, Texas and New Jersey.
Looking forward to the new challenge?
“Just 49 more days,” she grins on June 27.