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New England Runners of the Year announced

1/11/2013

The Gatorade state girls' cross country Runners of the Year award were announced on Thursday.

Here are the winners from across the region:

CONNECTICUT: BRIANNA LENEHAN, SR., NORWICH FREE ACADEMY

The 5-foot-2 senior raced to the State Open championship this past season with a time of 19:09. Lenehan also won the Class LL state title in 18:51 and took first at the Eastern Connecticut Conference Championships. She earned a ninth–place finish at the New England Cross Country Championships.

Lenehan has maintained a 3.91 GPA in the classroom. Also a nationally-ranked Irish step dancer, she has volunteered locally on behalf of both youth running events and toy drives for underprivileged children.

“Brianna was phenomenal this year,” said Norwich Free Academy head coach Kara Kochanski-Vendola. “She was very focused on what she had to do to be successful and she put in so much hard work, not just in season, but all summer.”

Lenehan will attend Columbia University this fall, where she will compete in cross country and track and field.

MAINE: BETHANY BROWN, SR., WATERVILLE

The state’s reigning Gatorade Girls Track & Field Athlete of the Year, Brown raced to the Class B individual state championship this past season with a time of 17:56.32, leading the Purple Panthers to sixth place as a team. Also the Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year as named by The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram, Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel, the 5-foot-4 senior captured seventh place at the New England Cross Country Championships in 19:18.60 and finished 11th at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional championships in 18:42.3, clocking the state’s fastest time at both events.

Also an aspiring poet, Brown has maintained a 4.27 weighted GPA in the classroom and ranks No. 1 in her graduating class. She has received her school’s Renaissance Award, given to students who excel in academics, service and character on behalf of the national Renaissance Program. A Student Ambassador for incoming transfer pupils, Brown has also donated her time promoting science studies in local fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms.

“Bethanie distinguishes herself from her competition through her exceptional focus,” said Waterville head coach Rob Stanton. “She sets very high goals and works relentlessly to achieve them.”

Brown has verbally committed to an athletic scholarship at the University of Connecticut beginning this fall.

NEW HAMPSHIRE: ELIZABETH CONWAY, SR., CENTRAL

The 5-foot-7 senior raced to the Division 1 individual championship this past season with a time of 18:45, leading the Little Green to fifth place as a team. Also the two-time Runner of the Year as named by both the New Hampshire Cross Country Coaches Association and Union Leader, Conway recorded a second straight runner-up finish at the Meet of Champions in 18:32.9, placed fourth at the New England Championships in 19:09.01 and finished 13th at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional championships in 19:06.70.

Also an accomplished violinist and skier, Conway has maintained an A average in the classroom and ranks No. 1 in her graduating class. A member of the World Language, Tri-M Music and National Honor societies, she has performed ballet in a local production of The Nutcracker and served as managing editor of her school newspaper. Also an active member of her church community, she has volunteered on behalf of the Special Olympics.

“She’s phenomenal,” said Larry Martin, head of the New Hampshire Cross Country Coaches Association. “Distance running requires an extraordinary amount of focus, so the most amazing thing about her is that she did it while she’s No. 1 in her class, an All-State violinist, the lead in the Nutcracker at the Palace Theater and the editor of her school newspaper. Everything she does, she’s No. 1.”

Conway remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.

RHODE ISLAND: EMMA McMILLAN, SOPH., BARRINGTON

The 5-foot-8 freshman raced to the All-State Meet individual championship this past season with a time of 18:22.99, leading the Eagles to the state title as a team. A First Team All-State selection as named by the Providence Journal and Rhode Island Track Coaches Association, McMillan also led Barrington to the team championship at the Class A state meet, breaking the tape in 18:35.33. McMillan placed third at the New England Cross Country Championships in 19:07.13 and took seventh at the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional championships in 18:43.6. She finished 11-0 during the regular season.

Also an accomplished swimmer, McMillan has maintained a 4.00 GPA in the classroom. A member of her school’s choral ensemble, she has donated her time on behalf of her church and as a youth swimming instructor.

“Emma’s trajectory as a cross country runner has been unparalleled among her peers in Rhode Island,” said Barrington head coach Annmarie Marino. “This past season, she was our No. 1 runner, leading her team to an undefeated season. Emma runs for the shear fun of the sport. Her composure as a newcomer to the sport was an example for all to see. Whether covered in mud, sweat, or red in the face from an all-out effort, Emma always wore a smile and offered an encouraging word to her teammates and competitors.”

VERMONT: ELLE PURRIER, SR., RICHFORD

The 5-foot-2 senior raced to her third straight Division 3 individual state championship this past season with a time of 18:38. Vermont’s two-time returning Gatorade Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year, Purrier also won the New England Cross Country Championships in 18:42 and the Nike Cross Nationals Northeast Regional championship with a time of 18:09.4 in 2012. She finished 17th nationally at the NXN Final.

Purrier has maintained a 3.92 GPA in the classroom. She has volunteered locally on behalf of food drives for the hungry, youth sports programs and blood-donation drives.

“Elle’s ability to stay focused is exceptional,” said Richford head coach Andrew Hathaway. “She’s achieved a lot in running thus far, but running is a part of the whole that does not dominate her life.”

Purrier remains undecided upon a collegiate destination.