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Fantastic foursome

Record-breaking Saugus quartet is a formidable force in headed to the CIF State Track Meet

Posted: June 4, 2009 9:33 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Saugus distance runners (from left) Kaylin Mahoney, Karis Frankian, Stephanie Bulder and Anne Randall will all take part in the 3,200-meter run finals at Saturday's CIF State Track and Field Championships. No school has had four 3,200 runners qualify in one season in the history of the state meet.

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They run the same event. They’re all friends off the track.

But Saugus’ Anne Randall, Kaylin Mahoney, Stephanie Bulder and Karis Frankian are in different positions heading into the CIF State Track and Field Championships at Buchanan High School in Clovis.

And together, they’re a distance-running dynamo that is staking new ground for the tradition-rich Centurions.

At last week’s CIF-Southern Section Masters Meet, all four runners qualified for the state finals in the 3,200-meter run, which will take place Saturday evening. Since the state meet began holding the girls 3,200 in 1980, no school has had as many finalists in the same season.

Distance coach Rene Paragas offered up a partial explanation after the Masters Meet: the more Saugus runners in a race, the better they do.

“There’s so much competition on our team,” Mahoney says. “You’re fighting for a spot in every single race. There are no hard feelings. I know I can race my hardest and come back the next week and move forward.”

Mahoney, a sophomore, has come back strong after a stellar freshman season.

She finished third in the state in the 3,200 last summer, and it took a pair of record-breaking times to beat her mark of 10 minutes, 25.40 seconds.

She was the only Saugus runner to reach the 3,200 finals, however, and is thankful that three others will join her in the 2009 finals Saturday evening.

“This year is better because my teammates are here to back me up,” Mahoney says. “Last year was totally new. It felt like I was thrown in a shark pool.”

The others may soon be able to relate, as each are making their debut at the state meet.

Randall is the only senior in the group, and she’s also the only Centurion in the 1,600, which will run its prelims today and final Saturday.

That race, Randall believes, will help her be more relaxed for the 3,200 finals.

“It’s easy for me because I don’t get worked up,” she says. “I’ll be mentally ready.”

This weekend represents the last chance for Randall to win a state medal, which are awarded to the top six finishers in each event.
As far as she’s concerned, the most important thing is setting an example for her younger teammates.

“It’s special to me because I’m the lone senior,” Randall says. “Seniors have a history of bad state meets. It doesn’t matter what I do. I just want to show them seniors can go to state.”

If past races are any indication, Randall and her teammates will push each other toward the front of the pack.

“I think it’s because we’re always together in practice,” she says. “If one of us is hurting in the race, and we see others pushing it, then we do the same because that’s what we do in practice.”

All the practice, from the long runs around Saugus High School to the drills to the core training, has helped the four runners advance through the CIF-SS Division II prelims, then the Division II finals, and finally the Masters Meet.

“It’s helpful to have all of us out there,” says Bulder, a sophomore. “The really big goal was to get everyone through. We think of it as we don’t want to be the one who doesn’t make it.”

Bulder’s first state meet will be a waiting game.

The 3,200 finals don’t begin until around 9 p.m. Saturday, and without prelims today, Bulder expects her anticipation to hit a fevered pitch.

“The anticipation will really build up,” she says. “It will be a fun night. The task at hand is more of our focus. It helps us not sit back and say we’ve done enough.”

While this state meet is Randall’s last, Bulder knows there are no guarantees that she or her teammates will return in the future, so she plans to make the most of it.

“There’s always a chance that you might never get back,” she says. “For the next few years the goal will be to get back, but I’m not thinking about next year yet.”

Frankian is thinking of the next step – in a manner of speaking.

The freshman didn’t expect to make it to the state meet in her first season, and given the competition, she considers every step to be extra special.

“I told myself if I made it to the Masters Meet, it’s like I made it to state,” she says. “Then state is like nationals, because there’s so many good people in the Southern Section and in the state of California.”

Like the others, Frankian was a member of Saugus’ CIF State Division II championship team last fall, a squad that eventually finished second at the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore.

That experience has helped Frankian navigate the road to the state meet, which is laden with top-notch competition.

“We put pressure on ourselves to win,” she says. “When we didn’t win I was kind of bummed. Just having everyone from all over the country running was good.”

It remains to be seen how well this group will do at the state meet.

Each runner is in a different position, but together, they can finish off a landmark season for the Saugus girls distance team.

“Every week we break some sort of record,” Mahoney says. “I don’t realize how good we are. You wait until the end of the season to reflect on what you’ve done. When it’s time for the race on Saturday, I’ll be confident because my teammates are with me, not cocky.”

jgulino@the-signal.com

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