Star power leads GHS girls' cross country team

By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Tue., Sep. 18, 2012
Griswold running standout Alyssa Brehler breaks away from the pack during the Windham Invitational Sept. 15. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.
Griswold running standout Alyssa Brehler breaks away from the pack during the Windham Invitational Sept. 15. Photos by Janice Steinhagen.

With a nine-member squad and many much larger teams jostling for the Eastern Connecticut Conference title, Griswold High School girls’ cross-country coach Mike Flynn might sound brash for saying his team aims to win the Oct. 18 ECC meet outright. But he’s got the star power to make that a definite possibility, with a state champion, two All-State athletes and a freshman with exceptional promise.

This, despite a team that’s more than half newbies. Junior Claudia Marsh is running for the first time at GHS, as are freshmen Meagan Perez, Thara Saint-Suren, Ally Playdon and Sammy Hawkins. Perez “will be brought along slowly,” but “has all the tools to be truly successful and carry on our tradition” as a superstar runner, said Flynn.

Team captain Magen Faxlanger and All-State runner Krystyn LaRose, Flynn’s returning seniors, bring experienced depth to the team, as does sophomore Melina Labossiere, who also was All-State last year as a freshman. “Faxlanger loves to run as much as anyone I’ve ever met, including myself,” said Flynn. “She’s had a great summer of training and is ready to make the next jump.”

Flynn’s acknowledged headliner is junior Alyssa Brehler, last year’s state champ who placed ninth in the New Englands. His hopes for her are high again this season. Brehler “is honestly in the best shape of any kid I’ve coached, which is saying a lot,” said the veteran coach. “She’s healthy and extremely fit. She’s found a new gear in her workouts.” Brehler’s eyes are trained on the prize of repeating as state champ, as well as “making a splash” at the State Opens in early November and the New England championships the following week. 

With 12 ECC divisional titles already under its belt, the team could very well earn its 13th in a row, said Flynn. “Our main goal is to win our fourth state title in seven years, then take a crack at New Englands at the Open,” he said.

Flynn is leading only the girls’ team this year. Former coach Gerry Chester has come out of retirement to lead the Wolverine boys this season.


 


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