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Pioneering Runner from Glastonbury Named CSMA President's Award Winner

She will be honored by the Connecticut Sports Media Alliance at the 81st Gold Key Dinner in October.

SOUTHINGTON, CT — A state champion distance runner from Glastonbury who four decades ago accomplished a feat that will likely never be duplicated has been chosen as recipient of the Connecticut Sports Media Alliance (CSMA) President’s Award for 2023.

Dr. Leslie Wrixon, a senior at Glastonbury High School in 1982, emerged as a running star that season, capturing the Class LL cross country championship with a 26-second margin of victory. Eight days later, she knocked off defending champion Vanessa Thompson of St. Mary’s to win the State Open title, becoming the first girl to break the 16-minute mark over the 5,000 meter course.

In the spring 1983 outdoor track season, Wrixon won the Class L title in both the 1,500 and 3,000 meter runs. At the State Open, she posted an 11-second margin of victory in the 3,000, establishing a new record of 10:16, and placed second in the 1,500.

Between those major championships came the unprecedented victory that will likely stand for all time. On Thanksgiving morning in 1982, as famed Irishman Eamonn Coghlan was in the process of winning his second of three straight Manchester Road Race titles, Wrixon won the women’s division by covering the 4.748-mile layout in 27:01, besting defending champion Sue Richardson by 20 seconds. Still 17 at the time, Wrixon became the first high school runner to win at one of America’s oldest road races. Four decades later, that mark still stands, as does her Female 14-18 age group record. With the proliferation of world-class, elite runners now entering yearly, including Olympic medalists, Wrixon’s feat will almost certainly remain unmatched.

Gold Key recipients for 2023 are Darien High School volleyball coach Laurie LaRusso, longtime Norwich Free Academy coach and athletic director Gary Makowicki, 1976 Olympian and former distance running world record setter Jan Merrill-Morin, North Branford High School field hockey coach Babby Nuhn and 27-year Major League Baseball umpire Terry Tata. They will be feted along with Wrixon at the 81st Gold Key Dinner on Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023 at the Aqua Turf Club in the Plantsville section of Southington.

Other honorees, including the Bob Casey Courage Award, Bo Kolinsky Special Recognition Award, Hal Levy High School Achievement Award, Art McGinley Media Award, John Wentworth Good Sports and the male and female athletes of the year and high school coaches of the year, will be announced in coming weeks.

Tickets for the Gold Key Dinner are $75, and are available by contacting CSMA president Tim Jensen of Patch Media Corp. at 860-394-5091 or Proceeds support the Bo Kolinsky Memorial Sports Media Scholarship, a $3,000 annual award named in memory of the noted high school sports editor of the Hartford Courant and past CSMA president, who passed away in 2003 at age 49.

(Photo credit: Chris Dehnel/Patch Media)


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