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Saugus' Karis Frankian: Girl, uninterrupted

Senior leaves legacy of consistency, leadership and toughness

Posted: June 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 4, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Saugus senior Karis Frankian (pictured) reached the state meet seven times between track and cross country. Saugus senior Karis Frankian (pictured) reached the state meet seven times between track and cross country.
Saugus senior Karis Frankian (pictured) reached the state meet seven times between track and cross country.

It’s become almost routine, categorizing the latest Saugus senior who’s completed her time in the cross country and distance-running programs.

When it comes to Karis Frankian and her career, there’s nothing routine.

Over a four-year prep career, an athlete can reach the state track and cross country meets a maximum of eight times combined.

Frankian went to seven of them.

Only Kaylin Mahoney, who graduated in 2011, went to that many in her Saugus career. That’s the kind of company Frankian is now keeping.

“What I told her and what I told the team is that Karis is the bridge,” said Saugus distance coach and cross country head coach Rene Paragas. “She’s a bridge that links the great runners of the past to the new people in the front. She was going to be that lynchpin that continues the tradition.”

Frankian’s final state visit resulted in a 19th-place finish in the 3,200-meter finals on Saturday at the CIF State Track and Field Championships in Clovis. It was the third time in Frankian’s career that she recorded a top-20 finish in the state in the 3,200.

Her time of 10 minutes, 46.38 seconds was the fastest she’d ever run at that stage, she also set personal records at both the CIF-Southern Section Division II finals and the Southern Section Masters Meet.

Moreover, this year’s state meet marked the first time Frankian ran in the state finals without at least two teammates running with her.

As a freshman, Frankian went to state with Mahoney, Stephanie Bulder and Annie Randall, and as a junior, she went again with Mahoney and Bulder. In both seasons, she cited the advantage of having other Saugus runners alongside her.

This season, she went alone. From a training standpoint, however, it wasn’t overly different.

“I don’t do what they did, so it wasn’t really different,” Frankian said. “But of course I miss them, and it was different because I didn’t have them.”

She did have senior teammate Jenay Jauregui and Saugus legend Shannon Murakami, who’s credited by Paragas as being the one who led the charge into elevating Saugus as a state-level program.

The three would run together this season during practice, so Frankian had someone to train with even if she didn’t have someone to race with.

“She’s actually very similar to me when it comes to running,” Murakami said. “It makes me laugh. We both push the pace, and neither one of us will tell the other one to slow down. I’m so happy that I got the opportunity to run with her at all, since I didn’t get the opportunity to run with her in high school.”

With their help, Frankian partially extinguished some sour memories of her sophomore year, when she was the only Saugus runner to reach the Masters Meet and ran alone on the big stage for the first time.

“That was the worst thing ever,” Frankian admitted.

But that’s the kind of standard Frankian set while at Saugus. Her worst track or cross country season ended at the Masters Meet, one week short of the state meet.

Frankian’s legacy received a big boost last November at Woodward Park in Fresno, when she and Jauregui captained the cross country team to a sixth straight state championship. That title extended Saugus’ already record-breaking run amid serious doubts about the team’s ability to repeat.

“Definitely my best moment was when we won state, because of all the circumstances,” Frankian said.

She joined Mahoney and Murakami’s younger sister Amber as the only runners in program history to win four straight state cross country titles.

That likely won’t happen again anytime soon. Frankian was the last Saugus freshman to make the varsity squad, and the program is now brimming with talent on both the girls and the boys sides.

When it was her turn to prop up the program, Frankian responded.

“I think she’s done a phenomenal job,” Murakami said. “I think all the alumni, we look to her to kind of be the leader, and between her and Jenay, they’ve both done such a wonderful job.”

After Saturday’s race, Paragas told Frankian that this is only the beginning for her. Frankian will compete for The Master’s College starting next fall, and Paragas said he’s excited about her growth potential given the growth of TMC’s program over the past few seasons.

It’s going to have to be a pretty special experience to match what Frankian experienced at Saugus.

“I’ll mainly remember the friendships and camaraderie, getting to know everyone and running with them,” Frankian said. “We’re sisters. It’s a bond of sisterhood that’s never going to be broken.”



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