By David Yon
The heavens opened up for the Fifth Annual Great Pot Luck Bash and Open Mike Social and the skies let go a deluge of rain, laughter and good will. As the race starter yelled, “on your mark, get set, go” the falling rain intensified assuring cross country conditions that would make mudders everywhere proud of this four mile course. Most of the dripping-wet, mud-covered runners acted like they had gone to heaven; convinced they had returned to the days of their youth as they sloshed through puddles and skidded up and down slick muddy terrain. There were no dry or clean finishers but there were lots of smiles and laughter. And the goodwill that fell from heaven was evident in the $3,000 in revenue the event raised for the Chenoweth Fund. Even after expenses are taken care of there will be more than enough to pay for the $2200 or so of scholarships awarded to recognize the outstanding high school athletes for 2002.
Former Chenoweth winner Ryan Deak returned to show his support for the event and was the first runner to swim across the finish line, beating his former coach Gary Droze 22:47 to 23:15. Maclay runner Colby Clayton took third place with a very strong effort of 24:24. Sarah Docter-Williams did not repeat her double win (prediction and place), but she was the first finisher for the women with a time of 26:04. Club president Jane Johnson captured second place with a time of 28:21, while Kate Remillard made her return to the healthy running scene by finishing just behind with a time of 28:38. All that mattered for the grand prix points, but the real competition revolved around each runner’s ability to accurately predict their time. Watches were banned and there were no splits on the course. Maclay runner and future star, Adriana Piekarewicz, predicted she would run the course in 30:00. She missed it by one second to capture the prediction title and win the first grass skirts and gift certificate. She was followed by Reid Vannoy who missed his time by two seconds, Mike Sims, who missed by three seconds and Tony Guillen, who was only four seconds off. Reid won the grass skirt modeling competition hands down though.
This event though is about building a bridge between GWTC and our local high school athletes. Ten outstanding athletes were recognized with the top four being recognized though $500 scholarship awards to their programs. The cross country winners were Herbie Thiele (Chiles High School) and Allie Hunter (Lincoln). Herbie had the second fastest three cross mile time in the area this year (15:11), made the Democrat All-Big Bend team and finished third in the 2A state finals. He also ran some impressive track times, finishing seventh in 1600 (4:22.48) and fifth in the 3200 (9:43.54) at the 3A state meet. Allie helped lead the Lincoln girls teams in both cross country and track. Her 18:25 three mile best was the third best effort in the state in cross country and placed her on the All Big Bend Team. She finished second in the 3A state meet in the 800 with a time of 2:17.79 and eighth in the 1600 with a 5:22.82.
The track winners were Danny Pellegrino and Milika Clary. Danny captured the outstanding track award by using the state 1A meet to break the state record in the pole vault by jumping 15-9.25. In addition, he won the 110 hurdles (15.0) to cinch Maclay’s state title and he had the area’s second best time in the 300 hurdles (39.96). Observers had to wonder what he could do if he just competed in one event at a time. Well he answered that quickly by increasing his pole vault record by flying over the bar at 16-5.25 in a subsequent meet. Milika Clary ran for Rickards to earn her award. She was part of their 4×400 state champion relay team (3:51.77) and finished sixth in the 200. She had the area’s best time in the 200 running 24.24. Also recognized were former winners Dempsey Gallagher, Ryan Deak, Zita Magloire and Kara Newell who are all still competing but not eligible for the overall award. Additional nominees recognized were Scott Crews (pole vault, Leon), Cheryl Rosen (cc, Marianna), Chinelo Ubaka (shot and discus, Chiles), Emily Kohler (long jump, triple jump and high jump, Florida High) and Christy Forsyth (cc, Godby).
A hearty thanks to all who braved the weather and gave of their time and money to make this event a very special evening.