Wednesday December 26, 2012

The inspiration Lauren Farry provides to her Pittsfield High School cross country teammates and coaches doesn't always come from her first-place finishes in Berkshire County races.

For PHS coach Theresa Apple, her sophomore standout and All-Eagle girls MVP inspires after crossing the finish line.

"When you watch Lauren finish a race, grab a drink and go back to the finish line ... She won't leave the finish line until every girl is in," the coach said.

Given that the Generals returned to the MIAA Division I state meet as a team this season, and that Farry has three PHS teammates on the All-Eagle squad, Farry doesn't often have to wait long at the finish line to greet her teammates.

She'll likely have more opportunities to cheer in 2013, too. Teammates Makayla and Mackenzi Powers will be seniors, and Liza Smith will be a junior like Farry.

"I feel like our team is just starting," Farry said. "We're definitely going to get better next year. There was a lot of improvement, but there's always room for more."

Farry's improvement will only have to be made at the highest levels. She rolled through county races this regular season, only being caught at the county championship race at Berkshire Community College when illness forced her out of the race past the midway point.

She rebounded, though, to finish fifth in the Western Mass. Division I race at Northfield, helping PHS clinch its return bid to states.

Farry is one of many runners throughout the county's graduating class of 2015 that could keep Berkshire County in the front of many sectional races for the next couple of years. She's one of five sophomores on the girls All-Eagle squad, while seven sophomore boys made the team.

That should mean Farry won't have it easy in many Berkshire races in 2013 and 2014 -- which is actually what Apple would like to see.

"It would be nice for her to have some stiffer competition -- and who knows? That may show up next year," the coach said after the state meet. "I think, if she's running other races out of season, she'll see some competition. That's where she has to look for competition, and subsequently, improvements."

Farry was pushed in practices this season by the equally successful PHS boys squad, which was much more senior-laden than the girls team. If Apple wanted to do speed workouts, she'd enlist the help of PHS boys coach Michael Ortega so that Farry could run against boys like All-Eagle selection and Generals senior Dan Brien.

In races, though, Farry felt her toughest competition came from a pair of juniors -- Mount Greylock's Emily Kaegi, who was an All-Eagle co-MVP last season, and county champion Kalyn Alibozek of Hoosac Valley.

"They both came on strong at the end, and did really well at Western Mass.," Farry said.

"I didn't really think I would win all of them [in the regular season]. "I thought there would be a few that would be really tough to come out on top."

To reach Matthew Sprague:
msprague@berkshireeagle.com,
(413) 496-6254.
On Twitter: @EagleSportsZone.