Top o' the mornin to you. Tis a fine day to announce the ST Awards. All season the athletes from the Hockomock have been chasing that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Now it's time to find out which ones have been blessed with ST Award recognition. Don't forget, once published they are written in stone, and that's no blarney.

Well, I've tarried long enough. To quote a famous Irish proverb, "You'll never plow a field by turning it over in your mind"


Kyle Kilduff - Kendal Knous

The question wasn't whether Kyle Kilduff would get an award, but rather which one. Right up until my finger hit the keyboard I wasn't sure. Then it came to me. How could he not get this one? In one glorious moment he delivered the type of performance that others only lie about to their grandchildren. Let's just study this for a moment. How many athletes get the chance to win a state championship for their school (and league) in the final event of the meet - and in dramatic come-from-behind fashion. This is a story that couldn't possibly be embellished. Even with a lap to go I thought he couldn't do it. The deficit was too great. Kyle pounded the last straightaway like a man possessed and slayed the Andover giant.

Though less dramatic from a team standpoint, Kendal Knous provided explosiveness with a state championship of her own. Kendal banged it out from the start. On the big stage, she changed tactics and ran from the front. The best in the state tried to reel her in on the final lap, but to no avail. Kendal found another gear and pulled away. It was a TNT loaded performance that gave me the biggest bang of the meet - until the boys' 4X4.


Ali Kirsch

The effect that Ali Kirsch had on Sharon's success this season is undeniable. Ali spun outside her normal orbit of endurance and tapped into the the heady exhilaration of G-forces by rocketing around the corners of the Reggie as anchor of the 4X200M. Now, I know that the 4X2 is a team effort and the work of Sara Gildersleeve, Jan Jaboin and Camille Henry was also crucial. Their New England placing time of 1:46+ can't be run with a weak link. That's where Kirsch gets her due. This wasn't just a case of three girls getting a big lead and praying that Ali could hold on. She not only did that job, but showed serious speed seldom found in a true miler. Ali pulled her team to times that I never would have predicted.


Emily Broyles - Quinn Ryder

The most interesting part of picking Emily Broyles as the face of Mansfield is that she is just one of many green-clad stars. Kristen McDonagh had a monster year and Cassie Olson was outstanding. The list doesn't stop there. But, when I think of the Hornets I think of the stinging power of Broyles.

It seems like Quinn Ryder has been around the league longer than most coaches. If you think Tiger you think Quinn. He wasn't a one-man team, but I'm not sure if anyone in orange next year will carry the name and face recognition that Ryder has.

POLARIS (The North Star)

Matt Smith - Alley Harbour

It was hard to tell that Matt Smith was hurt much of the season. He seemed to be everywhere. First he was jumping 21'. Next he's breaking the North Attleboro school record in the 300M. He didn't stop there. He was equally effective in the relays. Whether in the 4X4 against Mansfield or the school record setting 4X2 (2nd in state) Matt was the "man who can!"

It would be tough to argue against Christy Deininger for this award. She's been a star for four years, never placing less than second in the Hock Championship hurdles. But since I'm giving her a different award I'll promote Alley Harbour as the new bright light on the horizon. Her 5:25 in the mile is an NA frosh record both indoors and out. In fact, from the time the program started (1973outdoors-1985 indoors) until 1991 no one on the team had run faster.


Kristen McDonagh - Matt Sydney

Matt Sydney held the fascination of the crowd during his premeir performance at Hocks. He tied a meet record of 6'9" that was 3" higher than he'd ever jumped. Sydney logged more flight time that day than most US Air pilots raising the bar only one inch at a time. Usually, if there is something that high in the air it is necessary to mark it so airplanes don't crash into it. I guess that's what the pink socks are for. Based on my own history, I shouldn't be picking on high jumpers with odd socks.

Matt soared high but Kristen McDonagh soared further. Her 5'6.25" record setting performance at Hocks was only the start of a month where she attained higher heights every week. It was 5'7 at the divisional meet, 5'8 to win the Massachusetts All-State Meet and 5'9 at the New England Championships. Only a junior, if she keeps adding an inch per meet she'll have the world record by mid-season next year.


Coach Julie Collins - Coach Tim Cimeno

This award was the hardest to pick. I actually typed in and deleted names as I thought about it. I also run the risk of banishment from North Attleboro after removing Coach Latif Thomas and inserting Coach Tim Cimeno - but I'll explain.

First, Coach Collins. It doesn't seem to matter what medium you ask her to work with. Julie Collins finds a way to create a masterpiece. Her preferred material is distance runners, but she's also known for her team tapestries. This year it just took a little longer. After losing the dual meet title for the first time since Lincoln was president, Collins went back to the studio and recrafted perhaps her best artwork ever. It will forever be known as the "Anguish of Andover".

Latif Thomas has become quite reknown for his crafting of fast twitch athletes. The better his work, the less time you get to view it. Most other years he'd be a soo-in for the award. Or maybe Coach Paul Travato and Coach Pete Schuder should have gotten the nod this year. Both created tremendous teams from an amalgam of athletes. Franklin won the dual meet championship while Mansfield captured the Hock Championship and DII meet. But, you have to hand it to Coach Tim Cimeno. His presentation in the category of mixed media (three sprinters and a miler) was the most successful relay performance out of Sharon High School since the 1980's.


Kevin Peter - Emily Broyles

Kevin Peter is about as intimidating as Puff The Magic Dragon. That is until he walks into the circle. Then he breathes fire and scares the competition with a mighty roar. Coming in as the next to last seed in the hammer throw at nationals, Peter unleashed a huge PR that jumped him into the top half of the competition.

There's no secret where Emily Broyle's flame comes from. She burns with a white hot intensity that few others match. Toy with Broyles and you'll surely get burned. And on the rare occasion that she doesn't win - look out! You've just stoked the fire hotter.


Mary Cole

Lions are about family - and its not the dominent male that keeps it together. Whereas unrelated males will join together to face dangers, a pride of females is strictly connected by bloodlines. As the queen of Franklin's pride of distance runners, Mary Cole looks out for all the members and prepares them for the day she won't be around. That time is coming soon, but the effect of her nurturing will be felt long after she's gone.


Nick O'Leary - Sara Gildersleeve

I had younger athletes in mind when I designed this award. But after hearing what others have said and by observation, I've picked these growing stars out of the sky. Nick O'Leary made huge improvements this year as an athlete, but even greater ones as a leader. He shows the type of dedication and team commitment that earns the respect of teammates. He will definately show others the path to success.

The comparison of Sara Gildersleeve to Christy Deininger caught my attention and the words rung true. Christy was always the younger athlete on North's successful relay teams including last year's state championship 4X200M team. This year she had to fill a gaping void. Christy partnered with a young and inexperienced group, helping to mold them into a credible team. Sara is facing the same challenge. Gone from a New England Championship placing team are the three older athletes. Next year Sara will be "the chosen one" Let the force be with you!


Emily Grotz - Pat McGowan

I remember the old days when the performance list was posted at 3PM at the League Meet. You didn't know who you were running against until that day. An official would bring out the sheets and start to staple them up. Groans would erupt. Wincing happened most in the distance events where a talented athlete's range could be across three events-or more. I remember my son's outdoor senior year. He'd been 400M champ outdoors as a junior and mile champ in his only year of indoor track. When his name showed up for the 800M there were a few athletes who dropped explitives (they were bad words of only four letters), hung their heads and walked away. With that attitude, it only took a pedestrian 2:00 to win.

I bring this up because Pat McGowan and Emily Grotz have that power. People fear them. The only athletes happy to see Pat's name in the 1000M were milers and two milers. Since Emily Grotz is new to the game, it was pretty certain she'd stay to the 1000M. Next year athletes in other events hopes she remains there.

B-T-W Why are athletes so afraid of them? Well. Pat broke the Hock meet record in the 1K and was #2 in the state. And Emily won the New England Championship. I'd be scared to face them too!

Christy Deininger - Jon Vaughn

No matter what time of year I head over to the Dwight E. Estey Track, odds are that I'll run into Christy Deininger. If I charged her $1.00 per day I'd make over $300.00 per year. Because you see, Christy has listenened to everything ever told her about the correlation between dedication and success. McDonald's would call it, "Keeping your eyes on the fries!" Christy hunts down hurdling success like sumo wrestlers hunt down all-you-can-eat buffets. Christy has done everything a coach could ask for and more. Let it be known. If all athletes were like Christy I'd still be coaching.

Jon Vaughn isn't only a hunter. He's also still a hunter for his best event. I seriously considered him for the Venus Award because he is a lover of the sport. He craves success in a way that many athletes don't. He doesn't just desire it - he'll commit fully to it. So whether it's showing up at the Puma Street Meet or trying a new event like the 55MH - Jon is up for it! Jon will find it, beat it into submission and savor the victory.


Mike Rota - Emily Stickles

Man, will I take a beating on this one. Are there any better heroes than Kyle Kilduff, Matt Smith, Kristen McDonagh and Ali Kirsch? Well let me tell you. You don't have to be a household name or a state champion to be a hero.

A month ago I didn't know Mike Rota. But he stepped in to fill a void on a team wracked by illness. His effort won't show up on a state performance list but went well above what was predicted, providing essential points to give Canton a win over Stoughton. That's big heart and clutch running!

I do know Emily Stickles. On most teams she'd be a star, but at Franklin she is relagated to the status of "pretty good runner". When Franklin was embroiled in a League Meet battle with Mansfield, things were going to hell in a handbasket pretty quickly. Despite everything Franklin could muster, Mansfield was on a roll. Maybe Emily couldn't turn it around all on her own, but she responded to the challenge by throwing down a PR and grabbing unexpected points. It was heroic in the minds of her teammates.


Greg Boursiquot

I don't say this as a way to dredge up unpleasant memories, but as a meaningful lesson to athletes who make mistakes (and unfortunately we know a lot of them wearing uniforms of all colors). Greg Boursiquot had a disappointing spring of '09. One of the best hurdlers in the state as a sophomore, Greg was dismissed from the team for an issue surrounding the singing of the National Anthem at an MSTCA meet. I wasn't there and can't specifically comment. He wrote his apology and missed a season.

I hope we can all understand that it is water over the dam. In life, you will be perceived by what you do when the chips are down. Greg returned this year and at every meet I attended he was the model athlete. Not only that - he was awesome. He was untouchable at the hurdles, winning championships at the Hocks, DII, All-State and New England Meets.

After making a mistake, you can leave the sport in ashes. Or you can do what Greg did, which was to return and rise to greater heights.


Pat Riggs - Bradley Mattocks

I'll concede to the many athletes, parents and fans that e-mailed me - Pat Riggs is a bull. He was the man of the moment at the Hock Championship, finding his best throw (and only 50'+) when it most counted. At least he's caged at Reggie!

They let Bradley Mattocks out of the paddock (that is a term for the holding area for runners) to run the 300M. Talk about risk. I haven't been so scared since I let Melody Johnson run the 4X2 at MIT. That's another story. Bradley isn't just a sprinter - he's a house! With his fast twitch fibers he could throw what - 92'?" If I'm running the 4X200 against him I want to be way ahead or way behind - not trading elbows!


Cassie Olson

The key to successful running is to realize your strengths and utilize them to the fullest. Cassie Olson has two major strenghts in addition to her crazy endurance. #1 - she's tough as nails. Even if she's not sure she can hang on, she'll dig down and find the grit to dog your heels. #2. Cassie has great finishing speed. It seems that with a couple of laps left to go she convinces the other runners that they've dropped her off the back . Then Cassie will throw down a 34 second last lap and destroy runners in the last 50M.


Chris Allen

The two mile isn't just a skirmish - its a war. Meet after meet Chris Allen does battle. Sometimes he comes away weary, beaten and bloodied. But, not often! His willingness to put on his battle armor and put it on the line meet after meet makes him a true "Warrior"


Vlad Francois - Coach Courtney Wilk

I've never see Vlad Francois not have fun running track. 55MH, 300M, 400MH, 4X400M - he loves them all. Maybe not so much the 600M! His biggest smile is the moment he straps on his spikes. Vlad loves the sport, plain and simple.

But if Vlad loves the sport Coach Courtney Wilk has a fatal attraction for it. Wilk travels the country to catch every major meet she can, is obsessed with her own marathoning and stalks world-class athletes for their autograph. If there was an FBI Top-10 list for track and field addicts Coach Wilk's picture would be hung in every post office.


Samantha Smith - Quinn Ryder

I'll end with one that few would dispute. This couldn't be much easier to pick. These were the only two Hock athletes to place in the state finals (Ryder 2nd-Smith 5th), they were the Hock Champions and each had the fastest times posted by an athlete from our league. Samantha Smith has been the face of Canton sprinting since her freshman year. Sam now holds the Hock Meet record (7.33) and a 7.30 PR. Quinn Ryder may arguably have the Hock Meet record (that old FAT vs. hand-timed conundrum) and has white-washed the league the last two years.