Freshmen 'fierce competitors' lead girls' cross-country team

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
South Windsor - posted Thu., Oct. 4, 2012
Seniors were honored on Senior Day, held Tuesday, Sept. 25. Pictured (l-r): Sydnie Kremidas, Elyse Waksman, Helen Harding, Tori Cousino, Karen Bassilakis, Laila King and coach Clint Bowman. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
Seniors were honored on Senior Day, held Tuesday, Sept. 25. Pictured (l-r): Sydnie Kremidas, Elyse Waksman, Helen Harding, Tori Cousino, Karen Bassilakis, Laila King and coach Clint Bowman. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

South Windsor High School girls' cross-country team coach Clint Bowman does not have the two fastest runners from last year, as both juniors are sitting out the season with injuries. What he does have is a large group of freshmen.

“When you get that many freshmen in, you never know what your season is going to be like,” said Bowman. Runners who were stars at Timothy Edwards Middle School are not necessarily guaranteed the same success at the high school, as they are moving up from the 2.1-mile courses of the middle school level to the 3.1-mile courses of the high school level. “Not everybody can make that change,” said Bowman.

With a team missing its top runners and composed mostly of new, untested freshman, expectations were not high. Then they started winning meets, and Bowman realized that the freshman group had made “that change.”

“This group worked very hard during the summer, and worked together and made that change,” Bowman said. “And they proved it week after week after week.” At the time of publication, the team was 5-1, losing to Manchester, and taking third at the Harry Geraghty Invitational meet at Rockville High School, held Saturday, Sept. 29.

“I'm astounded. I've held my breath waiting for the crash to come, but it doesn't seem to be coming,” said Bowman. “I'm faced with the fact that we're a pretty good team.”

The team's current top runner is freshman Kaitlin Backas. “She is a super competitor,” said Bowman. He recalls the Sept. 25 meet against Wethersfield High, when Backas was side-by-side with the top Wethersfield runner. On the final stretch, she “blew past her.” “She doesn't like to lose,” said Bowman.

The second-fastest is freshman Meg McAndrew, who vies for this position with freshman Alex Goslin. The fourth-fastest is junior Melissa Jakaj. While she is not as fast as the top three freshmen, Bowman challenges her to stay with the group. “I told Melissa, 'We need your leadership,'” he said. “We can't have a gap at all.”

At fifth is Kate Kruzick, a freshman who Bowman believes has excellent potential, with sophomore Jeanette Porcello behind her.

Bowman's goal is to take second at the Class L Conference on Wednesday, Oct. 17, at Wickham Park. While they have realistic expectations about racing the Glastonbury powerhouse, this time they don't plan on losing to Manchester.


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