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Freshman shines brightly

• Saugus' Mahoney has potential to be one of country's best runners

Posted: June 6, 2008 2:06 a.m.
Updated: August 7, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Kaylin Mahoney was part of a Saugus cross country team named ESPN's team of the year. She finished third in the state finals.

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Saugus High's 2007 cross country team had a record breaking season.

Behind some of the team's success this season was freshman Kaylin Mahoney.

On Saturday May 31 Mahoney finished third in the CIF track and field state championship in the 3200-meter event setting a mark of 10:25.4.

Mahoney was in good company as the top two finishers broke the girls' 3200-meter state record.

For Mahoney, her love of running started in the sixth grade.

She credits her sixth grade teacher, who was also an inspiration for her, for her pursuit of running.

Saugus distance head coach Rene Paragas, said it's Mahoney's drive that makes her such a threat on the track.

"She is a hard worker and very diligent," Paragas said. "The one thing that separates her from everyone else is that she is very competitive."

Paragas played an integral part in the team's success. He has been coaching the team for four years and said he hasn't seen a runner with Mahoney's skills since 2007 graduate Shannon Murakami.

In Mahoney's debut season, she broke Murakami's previous school record in the 3200-meter event by 10 seconds.

Paragas said he believes that Mahoney has the potential to be one of the top five high school runners in the country.

"I am lucky to be able to work with outstanding athletes that want to work hard," Paragas said. "Kaylin has just as much talent as Shannon and the sky is the limit for her."

For Mahoney, getting to the state championship this year was a top priority from the beginning of the season.

And after her third place finish, she was content with her freshman opening.

"It was an entire weight lifted off my shoulder," she said. "I had achieved a goal and I knew what it felt like to be accomplished. I was so proud, I wanted to cry."

Mahoney recalls at the start of the season when teammates would talk about years past when Saugus was one of the top contenders in distance running.

This season, she was insistent on getting the team to the top.

"Now that we're on top it's a whole lot different," she said. "It's a great feeling when all the other teams look up to you. We just try to keep pushing ourselves and keep trying to improve."

After being named ESPN's team of the year, setting a state record in the 4xmile relay event and clinching the Foothill League championship three years in a row, the 2007-08 Centurions team has set a precedent for distance running at Saugus.

Mahoney looks forward to next season as the team's No. 1 runner, and with the loss of senior Katie Dunn, she is confident in the team's aptitude for continued progress.

"I'm looking forward to being with the rest of the girls and working hard to get another state championship."

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