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Abigail Frankian is taking her turn as Saugus' leader

Posted: September 25, 2013 9:07 p.m.
Updated: September 25, 2013 9:07 p.m.
Saugus senior Abigail Frankian has already won two CIF-State Division II titles in her time at Saugus High School.  Saugus senior Abigail Frankian has already won two CIF-State Division II titles in her time at Saugus High School. 
Saugus senior Abigail Frankian has already won two CIF-State Division II titles in her time at Saugus High School. 

Somewhere, there’s a young athlete looking at Abigail Frankian and thinking, “I hope to be like her some day.”

Frankian, now a senior at Saugus, may find that hard to believe.

“I don’t even think of myself as a legend or as great as they were,” says Frankian of past Saugus runners. “It’s just little old Abigail leading the team into battle.”

Whether she realizes it or not, Frankian is one of those girls now. She’s a part of the dynasty that has Saugus as a seven-time defending state champion. And as the only senior on Saugus’ varsity squad, Frankian wants to keep it going as badly as anyone.

“She’s the bridge to the old and the new,” says Saugus head coach Rene Paragas. “Our lone varsity senior right now and obviously she comes from the running Frankians.”

Before Abigail, it was her older sister Karis Frankian who was once a senior captain at Saugus. Karis, now a sophomore at The Master’s College, was another one of those “legends” at the school.

She was the type Abigail used to look up to a few years back, when Karis was a senior and Abigail was a young, promising sophomore who was called up to varsity late in the season.

“I always hoped I could one day be like (Karis) and grow up and take her place as captain,” Abigail says. “I think she just taught all the girls to dream big and never doubt yourself because you never know what can happen.”

Abigail was Saugus’ No. 3 finisher in each of the last two state championship meets, finishing 21st in 2011 and 23rd in 2012 in the Division II race. She was the team’s second finisher at last year’s CIF-Southern Section Division II finals, taking 16th.

Last year, she finished in the top three of all three Foothill League races, and ended up third at league finals.

Even before high school, she was making the trip to Fresno to watch Karis compete in state meets.

Abigail has been around big meets for years, and it’s that kind of experience that has put her in a position to lead a team toward a shot at another state crown.

“Even her freshman year and before that I knew that she had so much potential just because she works so hard,” Karis says. “That’s why she is where she is. She’s got some talent for sure, but most of it is because she works so hard.”

Just like her sister, Abigail is fairly quiet and introverted. She does her job, runs her miles and exerts every bit of energy she has on race day.

There are times when she’ll fall to the ground at the finish line, virtually unable to take another step. And it’s that kind of effort that prompted teammates to vote her as captain.

“She’s a blood and guts kind of runner that’s just going to give everything she has no matter what. ... If you know your teammate is killing herself, you’re going to too,” Paragas says.

Says Abigail on her efforts during races: “I just picture myself at the end asking myself, ‘Did I do everything I could?’ And just knowing I want to cross the finish line with no regrets because there have been times where I had regrets and that really sticks with me.”

Some of that desire has always been with Abigail, but part of it was learned over the years. She remembers watching in awe as the older varsity runners at Saugus would perform.

She tried to take in everything from the training habits to the attitude and humility. As the seasoned veteran of the group, Abigail now realizes her role as a mentor to young runners coming up.

“That’s what plays a key role in us going to state so many years and winning so many years in a row is because we’ve had that veteran leadership,” says Saugus junior Samantha Ortega.

This year’s Saugus team has three returners from last year’s state championship team: Abigail, Ortega and junior Darby LaPlant.

It’s up to the three of them to keep the cycle of success going.

“That’s just a culture. That’s our team culture,” Karis says. “Every freshman girl is brought up to think, ‘I want to be on that state championship team. I want to be there.’”

And Paragas says veterans like Abigail with big-race experience are paramount in carrying on that message.

“If Abigail is not our captain, we’re not going to be successful this year,” Paragas says.

And the cycle of Saugus dominance goes on and on.



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