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Saugus girls cross country: The second wave

Saugus’ Karis Frankian helps lead her team in nationals on Saturday

Posted: December 2, 2009 10:17 p.m.
Updated: December 3, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Saugus High sophomore Karis Frankian finished fifth overall at last Saturday's CIF State Division II meet.

 

The No. 2 doesn’t really suit someone like Saugus sophomore Karis Frankian.

Her work ethic is second to none. Her talents would make her the top runner on most cross country teams.

But it’s a number that seems to be following her around this fall.

She’s finished second in a lot of races, whether it’s second on her team or second overall.

Does it bother her?

“Not really,” she says. “I’ve actually never really thought about it.”

That’s probably a good thing.

Frankian finished in second place at the Foothill League finals on Nov. 5.

She was second overall at the Mt. SAC Cross Country Invitational in late October. Second overall at a national meet in Rochester, N.Y.

She was the second finisher on her team at the CIF State Division II meet. Second on her team at the sectional finals. Second on her team at the first league meet.

A list of results like that might drive an average runner crazy.

But those results helped the Saugus girls win an unprecedented fourth straight state title.

And as Frankian has proved in her second high school season, she’s not an average runner.

“At Saugus, we’ve been blessed to have a superstar each year,” says head coach Rene Paragas. “Karis is the next in that line of great individual runners from Saugus. Ability-wise, she’s probably in the middle of (the group), but in terms of work ethic she’s right up there.”

Frankian has been up in the Centurions’ No. 2 spot for most of the season, a vital step forward given Saugus’ graduation losses.

“I just think I’ve been able to fill that spot because I train hard and eat well and get a lot of sleep,” she says. “I’m not scared to be second. I’ve had really high expectations.”

Frankian was a scorer at the 2008 state meet, and she was the team’s sixth finisher at the Nike Cross Nationals last December.

The second-oldest of four siblings, Frankian admits to being nervous before each postseason meet this year, but she says the support of her family has helped her immensely in her career.

The time will come when Frankian is the top runner for the Centurions.

She already knows how to handle it.

“It’s kind of doing what the girls before me have done,” she says, “following their example and not being scared of what’s going to happen, or being like, ‘I’m the top girl. I’m so good.’”

Right now, the top girl is junior Kaylin Mahoney, who has finished ahead of Frankian in most races this fall.

“I’d say it’s a friendly rivalry,” says Mahoney, who lives close to Frankian and occasionally bikes home with her. “We do the best we can to help each other out. During workouts we switch out who’s leading. It gets hard when one person is just up there alone.”

Frankian learned that lesson during track season last spring.

She was one of four Centurion girls to qualify for the state finals in the 3,200-meter run, along with Mahoney, current cross country teammate Stephanie Bulder and former teammate Anne Randall.

The runners worked together and fed off of each others’ performances.

“She made a big step in track season,” Paragas says. “She got faster and she’s just carrying that over to this season, and she’s capable of taking another step next season.”

That will have to wait, because this season isn’t finished yet.

Thanks to their state title, the Saugus girls have again been selected to run in the Nike Cross Nationals in Portland, Ore., where they’ve finished second the last two years.

“I cried after I found out we got second (last year),” Frankian admits. “We sacrificed so many things. The seniors put four years into this, and I was really sad. Then Sunday when we came home it wasn’t as bad.”

Since Saugus lost several runners from last season, this year’s focus was more on the state meet.

The national meet became, well, secondary.

Now that it’s on the horizon, the Saugus girls are relaxed heading up to Portland.

“We really want to go out there and do our best and hopefully get in the top five,” Frankian says.

Next year might be different, seeing as how Saugus loses just one of its top seven runners to graduation.
With a No. 2 runner like Frankian, anything’s possible.

 

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