Return to : Home

ST Awards for the Fall of 2003
First let me say that for cross country I found the awards much more difficult to pick than in the Spring. So much happens behind the scenes that I’m not privy to. And just a few coaches and athletes chimed in. But they helped me a lot. To those who contributed to these selections I can only say that if I didn’t pick your nominee, it was only after lengthy research and soul searching. Now on to the awards!

"Babe in the Woods"

Awarded to the newest stars of the Hockomock

Lea Godfrey and Stacie Binney
Dan Darcy
From a handful of talented freshmen I narrowed it down to two right away. But when I had to compare Franklin’s Lea Godfrey and Oliver Ames Stacie Binney I found myself debating the merits of high placements vs. durability. When both were healthy Lea’s victory in race 5 of the jamboree and her great performance at the South Shores were compelling. But an untimely ankle injury brought her down at the end just when Stacie was gaining momentum. Stacie went on to run third for Oliver Ames in the Class Meet (20:57) and State Finals. So I'm taking the easy way out. They both get it for now. But Lea and Stacie will be battling to outdo each other for the next three years.
There was no clear distinction when comparing freshman boys. Matt Gannon, Austin Strange, Jeremy Beaulieui and Ryan Collins all ran strong races. There were also some solid sophomores such as Kevin Fitzgerald. Add in some nominations I received for first year juniors Brian Brunelli and Matt Meagher and you can see how confusing it can get. That is until you look at the stats for one Mr. Dan Darcy. Rest assured Dan, we weren’t thinking of you when we named the award. Second at Hocks, winner of the State Coaches sophomore race and 6th at the State Class Meet in a time of 16:42. As a sophomore he’s just past the crawling stage and ready to stand on his own two feet. Look out Hockomock!!

"Tropicana Coach of the Year"

Awarded to the coaches who squeezed the most out of their athletes.

Coach Sweeney
Coach Ellis
Coach Sweeney poses with some of his team members after winning the Hockomock League Meet
Coach Ellis (R) is shown at the South Shore Invitational with Franklin Coach PJ Allessi
Who’d ever think Tropicana would come up with a juice colored blue that would be popular. Coach Sweeney is the hands down winner on the girls’ side. Last year he got to sample the sweet nectar of victory with little effort on his part. It was all enthusiasm and the thrill that comes when new runners get the taste of success. This year he still had the talent but found out it isn’t as easy the second time around. Everybody is gunning for you and you have to make sure your team is trying to win instead of trying not to lose. He had to earn his keep – applying the pressure when necessary but making sure there’d still be some juice left at the end of the season. Under his expert direction Franklin racked up a Hockomock Dual Meet Championship, League Meet Championship, Manchester Invitational Championship and a repeat as the Class B State Champions. The Class B win was especially masterful. Concord Carlisle thought they had a chance but when Coach Sweeney got done prepping his charges it was all over by the first mile. Now the challenge is to come up with a new blend for “04” now that Leenhouts, Robbins and Trahan have run their last XC race.
Those coaches over in Mansfield just don’t know how to market their juice. They have the best product going but haven’t named it yet. So meanwhile I’m left debating the two nominees I received – PJ Allessi and Chris Elgar. Coach Elgar went a long way toward solidifying his position when he led Canton to a position in the State Finals. His animation is motivation to his athletes. He’s so pumped up at meets he’s going to explode. Then you have to consider the immediate effect Coach Allessi has had on his team. A few years ago it was hard to find many of the boys in blue showing a serious attitude. But Coach Allessi brings the same intensity and desire to coaching that led him to All-American status as a high school high jumper. It seems to have rubbed off and things are looking up. Meanwhile Mansfield has one thing in common with both Canton and Franklin. Five years ago they weren’t considered a threat – and look how much they’ve all improved. Now Mansfield has joined Oliver Ames as one of the dominant teams in the league. This year I’m giving the nod to Coach Derek Ellis of Mansfield and if he refuses to take the credit maybe someone else with a green uniform can stand in for him. Unfortunately can’t afford to send him to Disney World.

"Happy Trails Award"

Awarded to the athletes who most typify the enjoyable aspects of the sport.

Samantha Robbins
Brendan Flynn
Sam picks up her 9th place finish award at the Hocks.
Brendan coming to the finish at the South Shore Invitational
Of the many people who mentioned Samantha Robbins for the “Happy Trails” award the mildest comment I received was that she is “spirited”. I’m sure others think she’s possessed. Possessed with a passion for running and a smile that won’t quit. First you don’t think there’s a serious bone in her body and then she goes out and gets the job done. Who can forget her fall at the start of the Hock championships. She picked herself up after giving everyone a big head start and passed all but the top 8 runners. So of course anyone else would be embarrassed or mad. But Sam pulls the “fake trip” routine on the way to get her medal. Now about your profile . . .
There’s funny – and then there’s productive funny. Brendan Flynn is unique. Brendan Flynn is a character. Brendan Flynn has a web-site called NAXC Hardcore. I’d give you the address but I don’t need the competition. Plus he steals all his pictures from my site anyway. On it he has a “phase of the week” that is the same phase he’s been on since he started the web-site. But beneath the exterior you find a serious athlete who improved greatly this year – enough to challenge friend Ian Hobson for top billing. Now if he could only hone those frisbee skills a little more.

"Rock of the Hock"

Awarded to the athletes who have had the steadiest influence on the league.

Katy O'Brien
Andrew Harrington
Katy bounds to the finish at the Hocks.
Drew at the Indoor State Coaches Meet "03"
Meredith Leenhouts is a rolling stone. Year after year she gains momentum. Deservedly she received many nominations. But the "Rock" goes to Katy O'Brien. She has been as solid as anyone could be for the last four years - including representing the Hockomock League at the state finals for four years in a row. And she didn't just make the trip on the coattails of her teammates. All four years she would have qualified as an individual if her team hadn't made it. As a freshman she placed 14th in Division 2, sophomore year 15th in Division 1, junior year 7th in Division 1 and finally this year she was the top Hock performer at the state finals placing 9th in Division 1. She has one of the top 5 fastest Hockomock times ever on Borderland Park's course. You can't be much solider than that. Meet after meet for all four years she has represented both Oliver Ames and the Hockomock with class. There aren't many coaches in the league that can remember when Katy wasn't running for OA.When Katy picks up her rock and moves to college she'll leave a huge hole to fill.

Due to an injury that kept him out of competition for most of the season I had crossed Drew Harrington off my list - in fact I didn't have him on it until a rival coach nominated him.

That made me think about him again. Still I looked elsewhere. I tried to find a male counterpart to Katy. I couldn't. But I came close. Who else has made it to the state finals for the last four years? That's right - Drew Harrington.

After 47th as a freshman and 26th as a sophomore Drew became a solid threat becoming the Hocks highest finisher last year and also this year. Maybe he wasn't able to help OA during the dual meet season but he came back on a limited basis to win the Hocks and place second in the Class B meet. OA is a "team" that doesn't need a star but if they've had one lately it's been Harrington.