Senior Sabrina Olsen, the Register Citizen area girls cross country MVP, has been in the area running spotlight since the eighth grade.
At the end of that year, she had to decide between cross-country and 11 years worth of gymnastics training.
As a freshman, at Thomaston High School, another decision came after cross country.
“I always liked basketball,” she says. “But, if I did basketball, I’d have to go on runs every day to stay on track.”
Again, she chose running — indoor track.
The decisions helped her remain a huge factor in Berkshire League and state running competition ever since.
Olsen was the Class S individual cross country champion as a freshman.
She’s been All-BL and All-State in all four of her high school seasons.
She’s been All-New England three times.
The individual success leads to exciting prospects as a Division I runner for Syracuse University next year.
It’s also been a key component for two Thomaston Class S team championships and one runner-up finish.
“I’m very happy with what I’ve done so far, with the exception of not going to New Englands this year,” she said. “I wanted to be the first Thomaston girl to go to New Englands all four years.”
Bad weather pushed the State Open back a few hours, just enough to throw Olsen’s preparations off.
“Everybody has an off day,” she shrugs.
Nevertheless, personal and team expectations for as long a time as Olsen has lived with them might eat some people up.
Not Olsen or Thomaston.
“I don’t feel too much pressure individually. It’s more for the team,” Olsen says.
She has several huge advantages in maintaining her attitude.
“Becky (Perugini) and Cameron (Chaplen) were my best friends,” said Olsen. “We weren’t really competing against each other, but we were. We pushed each other for the team.”
Chaplen, now running for Quinnipiac University, was the Class S individual state champion last year.
Perugini will sign with UConn soon.
Olsen’s other huge advantage — probably the biggest — is that her father, Mark, is the Thomaston coach.
“I definitely would not be the runner and the person I am today if he were not my coach,” Olsen said. “He makes it fun.”
Olsen has four older brothers, all of them runners.
“I’m following in their footsteps,” she said. “The second oldest, Josh, is still running after college. He’s still my inspiration.”
For all the benefits she’s had, Olsen faces an even bigger leap than most kids going away for college.
“I’ve had a parent for a coach for every sport I’ve done,” she laughs.
Mark started with T-Ball and softball. Mom, Joyce, took over with soccer and softball in middle school. Mark was back for cross country plus indoor and outdoor track at Thomaston High School.
“I talked with the Syracuse coach (Brien Bell) for a long time. His thinking process is similar to my Dad’s,” said Olsen.
Coach Bell and co-coach Chris Fox will give Olsen a summer training schedule.
“For now, they said, keep doing what I’m doing. It’s working fine.”