Return to : Home

An unplanned editorial : I just got back from my annual Thanksgiving vacation. Annapolis was great - except the part where three stores that I visited on Friday afternoon burned down that night. I'm not really bad luck - honest!

I promised the STAwards this week and you'll get them!

These are all quality athletes nominated and I especially like the inclusion of new names. I don't want to bore you with my philosophy behind the awards but suffice to say, the more teams represented - the better. One reason I keep changing the categories is that I don't want to mention the same people every season.

I really think the nominations are the best part. It is special when a parent, athlete or coach steps up to recognize someone. What's even better is that the majority of nominations are recognition of athletes from other teams. To me, that is neat. I wish I could pass on to the athletes the names of the people who nominated them. You'd be surprised. It is often from their biggest rival or from a school you wouldn't have guessed.

Now to my one regret. Teams aren't equally represented. They could be - at least in the nominations. I regularly hear from four teams and occasionally from two others. I won't mention the three I haven't heard from this fall, but all three have gotten awards in other seasons. Please, don't give up if your athlete wasn't chosen the last time. The nomination by itself is a validation that they are special. Just because one balding and aging man flipped a coin and chose someone else isn't a reason to give up.

Here's the deal. I know that just because Greg Clayman graduated doesn't mean athletes from different teams don't talk to and about each other. Call up your friends from other teams and ask them why they haven't nominated a teammate or anyone else for an award.

Ignore what it says below. On Sunday I'm headed to the Cape to do some running, planting, oystering and winterizing - in that order. If I come home and there are more nominations, I'd be heartless not to honor them.

I'm thinking of adding an annual Rodney Dangerfield list - because you have definately withheld respect from some athletes who deserve it.

Updated 11/26/05 by adding Dan C's nomination to the Beech Award



Nominations are posted in pale yellow background!
ST Awards for Cross Country '05
Dedicated to the outstanding athletes of the Hockomock League

When my competitive juices start flowing my creative energy wanes. This team has had me so fired up that I barely find a moment to think about the ST Awards. Before my e-mail gets any more clogged with angry questions that start: “Hey moron, when are you going to . . .”, I am going to unveil this years categories.


Cross country is the closest sport to nature. No groomed field, lighting, heat, gyms or complicated rules. It is in-your-face man vs. man vs. nature. Hot, cold, rain, snow, hills, mud, grass, stones, woods etc. Just a “me vs. you” strap on the spikes and lets have at it.


To survive, you've got to be strong. You have to stand tall and be ready to withstand all the forces of nature that are thrown at you. What better symbol of cross country than the tree. They are the tallest and strongest living force. Even within a forest, some trees stand out. They rise above the rest by being resilient, majestic, more colorful or stately.


Join me in recognizing the hardwood of the Hockomock !

My own nominations appear in red. I may even nominate more than one person in a category. Beware that if I nominate a person it doesn't guarentee that they will get the award. I also listen to what others have to say.

Solid as an Oak Award
Oak is both solid and durable. For the sake of this award forget that the reason it holds these qualities is because it is dense. Who is that person in the league who stands strong and doesn't waver under any conditions? Let me know!

Jenna Banks- She just keeps getting better and better and just always stays so strong during her races.

Jenna Banks - also vote for Jenna Banks for solid as an oak

Jenna Banks - I wish she had competition for this award. I don't want to just hand it to her. Because Jenna has learned that the most rewarding things in life are the ones for which you have to work hard. At State Class she was clearly the #1 Hock performer. It took her a long time to get there. But week after week she not only gets the job done, she gets even better. In my mind, there is no one more solid than Jenna!

Jenna Banks---Has set an example of hard work and made her teammates better. She always ran well all year.

Emily Tran has always been a steadfast and tough competitor in the Hock League. Sharon used to be an incredibly weak XC and track program distance-wise until Tran came along and gave them something to talk about. She has run under 17 a couple times at Borderland and consistently puts up good numbers in state meets. Last year she was an XC Globe All-Scholastic and posted very strong PRs everywhere she raced. Emily has been a significant force in the Hock League. She had talent as a freshman and took that talent to another level. For FOUR YEARS she has been a forced to be reckoned with.

Dan Cerqueira (MANS)--in his 10th season of distance running for MHS (2 to go). Has never had a serious injury (knock on "oak wood"). The valuable lesson of consistency in training is paying off huge for him this Fall.

Lea Godfrey- although Jenna Banks has had a rock solid season, Lea Godfrey has been at the heart of Franklin for the past thre years. She's had to suck it up and compete with the best that the Hock had to offer (and in the past few years she has been in quite good company). She has been a lead runner in the Hock since freshman year and it looks as if she is going to stay that way for one more.

Stacie Binney. She has run consistently well from her freshman to her junior year. She has had injuries and illnesses, but she has never stopped. In fact, this has made her stronger! Her races are a joy to watch because she never looks nervous and always comes in strong.

Pine Award – Three Sport Award
No, this isn't about being a sap. Pines aren't one-season wonders.   They show their best year-round. Other trees go dormant the minute cold weather appears, dropping their leaves and chillin' until spring. You know that the Hock is filled with some September to June talent. So who is your pick for best year-round runner.

Ryan Collins (Mansfield) - He is at the front of the pack in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. He's a name that everyone in the league knows, and whether it's the cross country 5k or the 2 mile on the track, you know he's going to be running some fast times.

Lindsay Booth, Hock All Star in XC, Indoor and Outdoor. Just ask yourself this one question....Would you like
to race her?

Ryan Collins

I'm still researching - Who best answers the call every meet - every season!

Palm Tree – Withstanding Adversity Award

This is a special one. I wouldn't have even thought of it, but it's the favorite tree of my Florida transfer student. Sometimes the wind blows hard. But the palm tree knows how to bend with the wind to survive. Cross country athletes have to do the same. When the going gets tough you have to learn how to bend so that you don't break. Running XC isn't supposed to be a bowl of cherries. If it was easy, everyone could do it. Even football players! Oops, did I say that. What runner has faced the greatest adversity but still stands tall?

Dan Darcy (Sharon) - It seems like every year he has a new injury, yet he keeps on working just the same. This year he's had a pretty bad case of shin splints, yet he's still training, working hard, and running through it. He toughs it out like a true cross country runner.

Jennie Halperin - Oliver Ames Adversity isn't always physical stress. Last month Jennie's mother
underwent major surgery. Through all this, Jennie maintained stability and continued running in the crucial fifth spot for Oliver Ames, appearing at practice as often as she could and competing in meets two days after. She constantly shows heart and dedication in the toughest of circumstances, and it seems that nothing could never keep her down from
doing her best.

Jennie Halperin- I read the two nominations that are already up on the website and seeing Jennie Halperin's heart and dedication while her mom is going through serious surgery shows that she deserves this

Liz Fisher...a year ago she was living inWashington State and her move to Franklin wasnt something really planned. She tried XC because she wanted to make new friends...She has made a bunch

Paul Matz (KP)--has overcome a serious injury from his sophomore year to return stronger than ever. His freshman year he showed big potential

Sarah Krasney- She had a rough fall in the first few steps of our dual meet in Sharon, but picked herself up and charged on to catch up with the pack. How many times do cross country runners end a race bleeding?

Jennie Halperin

Marrah Fry-She moved to MA from FLORIDA. That's a huge change. Not only
has she continued to improve in her running, but she has been able to
stand the cold weather. It's kind of a big deal, running in 90 degrees
and then running in 35. I don't know how she has done it.

Elm Award – Best Form
Elms are the stateliest of trees. New Haven is the location of some of the best runners in New England. It is also known as the Elm City. Some runners have such beautiful form that it is just pleasant to watch. I'm looking for poetry in motion, so if you were to write a poem about someone's running form, who would it be? This is a bonus category. Not only will they win the prestigious STAward, but they will have an original ode dedicated to them!

Lindsay Booth - She has one of the best forms and who can forget that amazing kick at the end of each race.

Lindsay Booth for best form. (can you add this to my nomination? i didn't get a chance to write
anything before) Lindsay Booth- She never looks tired! It seems like no matter how big
the meet is, she is relaxed and ready to run. She runs very well in every race, and has one of the best kicks I have seen!

Jess Pickett from OA. Her form is excellent – she’s a pleasure to watch.

Jess Pickett. She has amazing and graceful form. She is always solid.

Maple - Most Colorful Award
I associate the changing of leaves to cross country. This sport doesn't get serious until the trees sport the reds, rusts and yellows of autumn. It is the maples that draw thousands of leaf peepers to the woods of the northeast. Nobody runs their best when the leaves are still green. So colorful (some might say flakey – but the category isn't pie crusts) runners evoke the spirit of cross country. I need to find a poster child of cross country that would spark the imagination of fans. Who would it be?

Sara Krasney - You don't come across many athletes as "colorful' as this one. I'll admit shes a bit flakey, but that's what makes her unique. If it weren't for her practice just wouldn't be the same.

Sara Krasney- I don't know her very well other than when I talk to her after races, but she seems really spirited. The pictures of her on this website are just crazy.

Sara Krasney - North Attleboro She is just so enthusiastic and supportive of all the girls from opposing teams!

Itai Stein (Sharon) Loves the sport of running; not only is he a colorful character but he also has the most colorful hair in the League
Jenna Banks (NA)--with the red maples leaves being so dull this Fall, it was always fun to see Jenna in that bright red rocketeer uniform emerging from the woods!

Lea Godfrey without a doubt. Anyone who has ever heard this girl beat box will agree with me. No matter how big a meet we are up against, she's always the one lightening the mood by giving the bus a solo rap concert.

Sara Krasney

Cherry – Integrity Award
Never let the truth get in the way of a good category. Washington couldn't possibly have slept in half the beds claimed. And he probably didn't chop down a cherry tree. But integrity is such a desirable trait in a president – and a runner. Don't ask me about WMD's. But here it is centuries after the founding of our country and the rumor still persists that GW cut down a cherry tree but “could not tell a lie”. So I ask you. Other than someone from your own team, who do you most trust to tell you the truth. Better yet, who would you elect president!!

Katie Meagher - Mansfield Katie comes across as being a very genuine girl. She never boasts, and
she is filled with stragetic advice and encouraging words. All-around, she just seems like a sound, trustworthy girl.

Dwight Estey.......Why cant a coach get it? Coach Estey is a classy guy and always finds something
positive to say..sometimes when its even difficult.

Emily Tran (Sharon)--has had a tough end to her senior season, but still competes with pride and good sportsmanship

Jason O'Connell (Mans)--Did a great job organizing the Hockomock League Country Buffet get together after the League Meet

Caitlin Lawrence - There are a lot of runners in this league who impress me for a variety of reasons. When it comes to speaking from the heart, Caitlin is right up there with the best. She apoligizes for picking mostly Franklin girls, but her reasons are just - loyalty is a good thing. Never apoligize for being loyal! But she is also open and willing to see the best in other teams as well. Cailtin isn't at the top of the Hockomock League best times list, just at the top of the best people list!

Cedar – Most Heart Award

Cedars have a strong heart (heartwood). The outer layers can fall away but a century later the center is as strong as iron. Iron is what it takes to be a “great” runner. Natural talent can make you good. Luck can help make you look good. But as Westside Connection would say, “You Gotta Have Heart.” You can see it in the way they approach everything. Who most puts their heart into their running.

Derek Ricci - just loves this sport...Running changed his whole life and even if he isnt the best he just puts his entire heart and love into running,

Derek Ricci- that kid look forward to every second of XC. I may sometimes dread certain races, but he never does. Always a smile on his face.

Derek Ricci (Fox)Never have I seen an athlete who loved to race week in and week out as much as this kid does

Taylor Mc Gillveray. She started running sophomore year and had a back problem through the whole season. She worked hard junior and senior year and even though she wasn't at the top, she always made it through the finish, even being elected captain last year. Taylor runs because she loves it and her heart has made the team stronger.

Cypress – Fastest Growing
This is my rookie of the year award (or an upperclassman who suddenly blossomed). Cypress trees grow fast. One day, a mere sapling – the next they tower over the rest. Who started the year as a seedling and now stands out in the grove. This is a neat name for a tree – now give me a neat newcomer to which I can attach it.

Jason O'Connell (Mansfield) - He's a senior this year, but his improvement since last year's cross country season is amazing. Last year he barely cracked Mansfield's top 7 (in the beginning of the season he was JV!!) This year he was second in the Hock, and beat his 5k pr in the Bay State Invitational this past October by nearly a minute, running a 16:38.

Katie Czepiel deserves the cypress- fastest growing award because her times have improved so tremendously over this season. she's done so well she moved up the charts as one of the best freshman to run at north high.
Katie Czepiel: While in just her first year, Czep is becoming better
and better. Every practice, she pushes herself to the max. She continues
to make huge PR's, and this is only the beginning. I expect her to
become a great runner.

Siobhan Duffy- She's a huge part of Franklin's team this year and only a freshman. By the end of the season, I wouldn't be surprised if she owns all the Franklin freshmen records.

Julie Binney - Oliver Ames Julie is a major asset to the OA's girls, consistently running second
for the team and beating many of the frosh times of the graduating girls before her. Her hard work in practice can only mean one thing - her best is yet to come!

Sara Krazney - all-around great athlete! Every meet, I watched her root and cheer on her teamates, as well as other teams.

Siobhan Duffy...She continues to perform at the highest level. She missed 2 weeks of training and still posted a 21.20 at FP. I bet she goes 20.40's next week

Mike Moverman (OA) Outstanding first season!

Liz Fisher deserves this award. She's new to the Hock, but she has certainly made an impact. She started running this summer and couldn' finish a mile in under 9 minutes. During the first workout of the year she was probably the team's 20th runner. She slowly go the hang of competitive running as the season progressed and worked hard to identify her weaknesse and improve upon them. Now she is Franklin's #2 runner and can get through a 5k in a bit over 20:17 (State Coaches' Meet). I can't see how anybody could compete with that.

Kerry Pickett. Kerry ran number 8 for OA last year and has rocketed to number 3-4. She is an amazing runner and her races are always show her heart and the amount of love and work she put into the sport.

Beech – Smoothest

Effortlessness! Always in control!! A joy to watch!!! Beech trees have such smooth bark, but they are also tied into enduring legacies.


A serious aside! When I was in Luxemboug I stood among a stand of beeches into which WWII GI's had carved "USA"! That was over 60 years ago and the message was still clear. These soldiers were young boys (maybe the same age as some seniors in our league) and they were ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for their team. It was in the days leading up to the Battle of the Bulge. Mere miles from the spot there are huge cemeteries honoring the dead from both sides.


Back to the category. I looked at these trees and all I could say was, “Wow”. Who runs so smooth that all you can say is, “Wow”.

Lindsay Booth...smooooth but strong form

Lindsey Booth- londz definitely does make it look effortless.

Jenna Banks- She always looks totally relaxed! I can never tell how
much she has run because it seems like she never gets tired; whether she
has run 1 mile or 7 miles. She's definately not one of those people you
get tired just watching.

DAN CERQUEIRA... I truly and honetly think this kid deserves one... From the performances Ive seen from him he just runs smooth and runs his race, and man does he runs it good... He also always tries to keep in good control and never tries to ruin his race plan early in the race, this is why I nominate DAN CERQUEIRA for the BEECH AWARD...smoothest runner thats in control

Aspen – Teamwork Award

A forest of aspen may look like many trees. But in reality, they may be one. An entire stand of aspen may share one root system. I'm told that the largest living thing (mass/weight wise) is an aspen so large that it is considered the largest living thing on the planet (and has its own name). When the slightest wind blows they appear to quake in unison. That's what I call a team. Both inextricably linked and in total harmony – functioning as one. This is a team award. What team in the Hockomock League best demonstrated the qualities of the Aspen?

Oliver Ames - They exhibit the best team work in the league. They all work hard together and accomplish many great things.

Oliver Ames These girls step up to the line for each other, pushing each other to a Hockomock League victory and offering support and encouragement along the way. They truly know what it means to be a team.

Franklin Lady Panthers....They seem to get energy when all odds are against them. last year they had lost 4 league All Statrs and still won class B and remained unbeaten in dual meets despite losing the duo of Rizzolo and Sergi. They always find a way when it counts.

OA Girls--absolutely the loudest!
MANSFIELD Boys--Truly a "Grove of Trees" working together this fall. 1-2-3(!!!)-12-38 in the Class meet

Oliver Ames Girls- they really came together in the Hock Championships to take advantage of a great opportunity, and now they have the Championship title to prove what a great team they are.

OA Girls- the absolute loudest

Early Announcement on this one : I've got to tell you that there is some great competition in the league. I didn't even nominate my own team, but thanks to Capt. Jenna Banks and six loyal followers this is the most "in-unison" team I have ever coached." I have to throw them out of practice so I can go home and get some sleep - then they all meet up somewhere else to spend the rest of their time together. Franklin girls have set a high standard of togetherness since Coach Sweeney arrived on the scene, and the Mansfield boys wouldn't have had their incredible amount of success if they weren't all focused on the same goal. But my hat is off (for your own safety you must wear sunglasses so you aren't blinded by the glare) to Oliver Ames as this year's Aspen Team of the Year. They beat with one heart and their performance at the State Finals just confirmed what I already felt. ALL SEVEN PR'd and led the team to a sixth place finish in Class II. The worst news of all is, the Binney-Pickett sandwich isn't a limited edition. They'll be serving again all next fall.
Birch – Most Willing to Sacrifice for Another

When you talk about sacrifice, you talk about a runner willing to “give the skin off his back” for his team. A birch survives while continuingly giving up its skin. Peel the outer layers back and you get to see the inner tree. Don't worry! Inside resides the true tree. (Actually, being a closet environmentalist, I hope you don't just go picking the bark off trees, just like I hope you don't go around carving USA in beeches – it isn't really good for the beeches). But I digress. Who's mantra involves putting team above self? Who is most willing to sacrifice for a teammate? Give me details. I want to know!

Dan Darcy - Dan doesn't think about himself first. What is one of the most amazing things I've seen this week? Dan nominated someone else for the same category for which he had been nominated. I assume he was disappointed by his finish on Saturday at State Class. But he was still out there cheering for the rest of the Hockomock runners. This guy has class!

Dan Darcy (Sharon)--You'd think he'd want to recover for the track seasons, but he was out there on Sat. giving it his best shot at trying to get his team to the State Meet
Lauren Brown (Mans)--Has had to deal with many obstacles but has remained with the sport for the sheer joy of running and being on a team.