Alex Giese always seemed to be on the run. Not that there was anything wrong with shooting hoops in the driveway with her younger brother Marcus, but in her freshman year at Franklin High, she put basketball aside.
“I haven’t thought about it since,’’ she said.
She just had to run.
“I got caught up in cross-country,’’ said the Franklin High senior, who is undefeated in dual meets this fall.
Starting in fifth grade, Giese got involved with the town Recreation Department’s track-and-field program. In meets she ran the 100- and 200-yard dashes.
“I liked sprinting,’’ Giese said. “I liked going fast.’’
Giese also liked running the mile and 2-mile, which she took up in her freshman year.
“I definitely liked the mile better,’’ she said. “It’s the perfect mix of endurance and speed.’’
Giese has run cross-country all four years at the high school. Even though she says she likes the track better, she has built a solid reputation in cross-country, leading the Panthers (6-0) to the Hockomock League’s Kelley-Rex Division championship.
“She’s one of the best milers in the state,’’ said Franklin coach Paul Trovato, also the girls’ indoor and outdoor track coach. Giese owns the school record in the mile outdoors (5:04).
Giese, who suffers from asthma, finished eighth at the Catholic Memorial Cross-Country Invitational last weekend.
“I was happy but not content,’’ she said. “I felt I could’ve done better.’’
In the Bay State Invitational on Oct. 1 in Wrentham, she did do better, finishing fourth, but she wasn’t pleased with her time.
“I should have picked up the pace sooner than I did,’’ she said.
Giese competes against both the field and her asthma.
“If I get out too fast, it gets triggered,’’ she said. “I’ve learned an optimum pace I can handle.’’
Her best time over a 3.1-mile course, 19:11, came last year at the State Coaches’ Meet.
“I hope to get in the 18s eventually,’’ Giese said.
Trovato said that’s a reasonable goal for her.
“She’s been one in a long line of top milers and two-milers we’ve had, but I see her as a distance runner,’’ said Trovato.
He will be counting on Giese in the Hockomock League meet Saturday, and in the State Coaches Meet on Nov. 5, the Division 2 state meet Nov. 12, and the all-state meet Nov. 19.
Giese said she plans to continue cross-country and track in college, although she hasn’t identified her destination yet.
“Alex is dedicated to track and field,’’ said Trovato. “She’ll go the extra mile. If we’re doing six miles, she’ll do eight.’’
Giese has run the 400, 600, 800, and 1,000, as well as the 400 hurdles, the triple jump and long jump.
The first time Trovato saw cross-country team member Lauren Hagen as a freshman, he felt it would be a good idea if the promising runner got to know Giese better.
“I said to Lauren, ‘Meet your new sister,’ ’’ said Trovato.
“I think he assigned me as her sister because we’re both tall and blonde,’’ Giese said. “It’s kinda worked out.’’
“Alex has really helped me a lot,’’ said Hagen, now a junior. “Freshman year I was really shy. Now I bond with everybody. Alex helped me improve my times.’’
Hagen also runs indoor and outdoor track. She’s registered some of her best times at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston.
“It was my goal to break three minutes in the 1,000,’’ said Hagen. She did it last year at the divisional meet, turning in a 2:59.
Hagen first ran on a soccer pitch.
“I played from kindergarten until eighth grade,’’ she said. “I wanted to try something new my freshman year. I heard about cross-country and track from some older kids. It sounded like fun. I wasn’t used to the mileage at first, but after a scrimmage against Holliston, Coach Trovato told me I had talent. He said, ‘I want you to stay with Alex and the varsity girls.’ ’’
Trovato’s approach puts his runners at ease.
“If you don’t do your best, he doesn’t get mad,’’ said Hagen. “He just says ‘leave it behind you.’ ’’
Trovato started coaching at Franklin as a track-and-field assistant in the mid-’70s. He became head coach in 1984. He’s been the girls’ cross-country coach the last six years. He also coached girls’ soccer from 1986 to 2005, and put in a two-year stint as boys’ cross-country coach.
He’s built a strong program. Giese and Hagen have added to it, and he said he is glad he paired them up.
“They’re inseparable,’’ he said.
Lenny Megliola can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.