The ST Award bestseller list.
Category – Girls' Track Biographies

“Air Time” – Meghan Ferreira

Premise: How long can a person stay in the air during a four year career?


Giving the Ending Away: Though her time in the air over hurdles was minimal, added to the time aloft in triple jump, high jump and long jump Ferreira most certainly set a Hockomock if not state record.


Reviewer's Notes: An enjoyable read for such a long story. Most compelling was how durable the story line was. After that many struggles against gravity I would think interest would wane or there would be at least one physical letdown. Ferreira was true to her green and white values right up to the finish.   I expect her to produce a sequel at Harvard titled, “The Anatomy of a Fixed First Hurdle”.



“Out of the Shadows” – Michelle Jennsen

Premise: Considering the tall shadows cast by the giants of Mansfield track is there a way for the “average” runner to get noticed?


Giving the Ending Away: This compilation of short stories built chapter upon chapter. Jennsen never backed down from competition and no challenge was left unmet. Two state records is a fitting climax.


Reviewer's Notes: Being a farmer, early in the book I was a little surprised to see a twig suddenly grow as large as the oaks around it. Rapid rise can also reveal weaknesses under stress but there were no weaknesses to be found. Jennsen is now more than a household name. She's a local bestseller who may never be bumped from the Mansfield top-10 list.

“Sky Rockets in Flight” – Laura Weeks

Premise: It's not the size of the dog in the fight.


Giving the Ending Away: It's the size of the fight in the dog.


Reviewer's Notes: Like the athlete in question this book hits you unexpectedly hard. It makes you smile and then suddenly you are looking up in awe. There's no trash talk and no pretension, just serious writing (and flying) from start to finish. I have no indication of whether there's a follow-up but I'll be checking the college bookshelves next year.



“The Replacement” – Kendal Knous

Premise: Can anyone ever take the place of Kathleen Ryan?


Giving the Ending Away: The first chapter shocks even her coach.   At seasons end the entire New England region is shaking its head.


Reviewer's Notes: Kendal doesn't attempt to replace Ryan. She is what she is – a tremendous talent that is writing her own chapters. At times the story risks unbelievability, but the facts are clear. A New England level 400M runner as a frosh is a clear page-turner (and head-turner).
“A Never Ending Story – The Final Chapter” – Kathleen Ryan

Premise: Can anyone remember a time when Kathleen Ryan wasn't running for Franklin?


Giving the Ending Away: Ryan spent a lifetime running at Franklin for four years.


Reviewer's Notes: I kept rereading parts of this story trying to figure out why it was so captivating.   I think it was the depth of commitment shown over such a long time. This is a solid story from the first sentence to the final exclamation point. And that exclamation point was a decision to concentrate on team success (4X8 relay) rather than individual glory. The result was a huge final chapter by Ryan and company.
“The Chase” – Christy Deininger

Premise: The better the competition the more meaningful the result.


Giving the Ending Away: Ferreira was Hock champ but she pulled Deininger one step closer to being the best hurdler in NA history. Her 14.99 was the top junior mark of all-time and she finished this year's book a page away from the school record.


Reviewer's Notes: Though her exploits as part of a state and New England champ 4X100 made great reading the depth of her internal struggle to improve in the hurdles shows more of her character. Next year's re-issuing of the bio includes a chapter entitled “The Chase Continues”.

“Life After 5” – Jenna Davidner

Premise: What does it take to be the best-ever distance runner in the Hockomock League?


Giving the Ending Away: Davidner rewrites the standards. With a year to go there's little doubt – but just enough to warrant waiting to go to press.


Reviewer's Notes: Many Hock athletes have gone on to run sub-5 in college. But Davidner is an original issue when she did it as a high school junior. This story still needs to flesh out the character a bit more since many readers still wonder what makes her tick. Or is the Davidner enigma part of her charm?
“Quarter General” – Emily Broyles

Premise: How can Emily Broyles avoid the sophomore jinx?


Giving the Ending Away: By jinxing everyone else. Broyles closed the book on every runner in the state! It couldn't be clearer than that.


Reviewer's Notes: In the army of runners trying to be the best in the state Broyles quickly rose to the rank of four-star general. She clearly sits atop the small pond. But, what of the next two years? If she gains national prominence her biography will be re-titled “running for President”.
“The Last Shootout” – Shannon Cunningham

Premise: What happens when someone looks to gun you down in your favorite event.


Giving the Ending Away: Carolyn Udall posted the Hock's fastest 200M time of the year but when a league championship was on the line Cunningham showed her backside to everyone.


Reviewer's Notes: The book ends earlier than expected. Injury at the Hock Championships put the finishing touches on a career but it still ended with a big smile.

“The Untouchables” – North Attleboro 4X100M Relay

Premise: Would this be the year North Attleboro's sprint relay dominance comes to an end?


Giving the Ending Away: After running eye-popping times in dual meets the quartet of Carolyn Udall, Julianne Cappadona, Lauren Goldberg and Christy Deininger re-wrote records in virtually every big meet.


Reviewer's Notes: Unfortunately there was no foil to make this story more interesting. The lack of competition spoke volumes. This was the fastest and most balanced team ever to step into the red speed suits – so much so that they never even had to get their handoffs clean. If only . . . but that's another book.
“The Greatest Story Ever Told” – Mansfield 4X400M Relay

Premise: The year starts off with the question, “Can Mansfield's 4X400 get any better than they were last year?


Giving the Ending Away: No team in the state of Massachusetts either this year or any other was better. State Championship, State Record, New England Champs and on and on. . .


Reviewer's Notes: This story goes way beyond expectations. The author, Derek Ellis kept sending me chapters throughout the season. Each one was more riveting. Once the team broke the four-minute barrier the time started dropping even faster. Even a late season change in personnel didn't disrupt their mission. Emily Broyles, Michelle Jennsen, Erika Unger and Katie Jenkins provided outstanding material. This is one of those truly magical stories that a coach may only see once in a lifetime. Ellis did an outstanding job bringing out the best in his characters – or staying out of their way.
“Once a Coach” - Dwight Estey

Premise: When does a coaching career end?


Giving the Ending Away: Officially during the cross country season of '09.


Reviewer's Notes: The original title was “Going, Going, Going . . . But Not Quite Gone.”

The autobiography is as interesting to read as Track and Field News. In other words, you've got to love the sport to even care. The book is filled with minutia. Thirty years coaching at times both boys and girls, a spring record of 297-25-2, 18 outdoor Hock titles, nine outdoor state relay titles, etc. But the real message is the ones he tells about his athletes – the ones who created those stats. He has literally hundreds of stories – athletes of every level of ability that wove the rich tapestry of North Attleboro Track and Field.   The final chapter could be considered either the funniest or most poignant. The XC team gives him his only winless season but it was one of his most enjoyable.