On the Wings of an Owl - Owl Run 2007Bill McGuire, Sept. 27, 2007
The occasion was the 2007 Everhart Owl Run, and the racing would prove to be as hot as the late September morning.
In the girls’ race, Raa’s Carly Thomas scorched her competition and incinerated Summer Shepherd’s course record by a whopping 32 seconds! Carly led from the gun, and crossed the finish line in 12:27, 46 seconds ahead of her nearest pursuer. Then it was the Williams sisters….not Venus and Serina, but Deerlake’s Lily and Cici. Lily delivered the third fastest girl’s time in Owl Run history (13:13) to finish second, while Cici’s fourth place 14:15 made her the top sixth grader. Raa’s Stephanie Kurgatt ran a strong 13:56 to finish third, and move to tenth on the all-time list.
Raa’s girls’ team was awesome again this year, scoring only 22 points and putting seven runners in the top ten, despite running without two of their top scorers! Deerlake and Swift Creek were second and third respectively, and for the first time, the top three were all awarded Owl Run team trophies to take back to their schools!
The boys’ race also featured some heated competition, with an elite pack dwindling down to two runners by the 1 ½ mile point. For awhile, it looked like Deerlake’s Taylor Buzzard would come back on Raa’s Will Henderson, but Will showed a lot of guts up the final hill and down the homestretch by refusing to let Taylor make up those last few yards. In the end, Henderson prevailed by a mere three seconds, 12:11 to 12:14. Jacob Slupecki of Swift Creek was third across the line with 12:21, the tenth fastest in Owl Run history.
The boys from Raa, like their female counterparts, won the team title for the fifth straight time! This one was closer than last year, however, as their 31 points was within striking distance of Swift Creek and Deerlake, who scored 47 and 49, respectively. Only the Cobb girls in 2000 prevented back-to-back five year sweeps of the team titles for Deerlake and Raa!
The Everhart runners attacked their approximately half-mile course with typical energy and enthusiasm, although they did seem to respond better this year to Bill McGuire’s admonition to “stay behind the bike”. The self-discipline showed by Raymond Spicer, as he paced himself behind “Mister Bill”, paid off with a time of 3:24, and his first Owl Run victory. Behind Raymond, a spirited pack of three gave chase, with Kevin Taquine eventually nabbing second place, James Byrd, third, and Daniel Andrews, fourth. Only four seconds separated the three runners.
For the Everhart girls, the indominable Classie Lewis ran 4:08 to extend her impressive winning streak to four consecutive years. No one at the Owl Run… boy or girl… has a more impressive record. Erica Perry, who just recently returned to Everhart, was the runner-up in 4:32. Marquita Crumby and Marjawana Morris, who took third and fourth, were separated by a mere second!
All in all, it was quite an inspiring morning. Guest speaker Melba Jacobs, who is Leon County Schools District-wide adaptive physical education lead teacher, delivered a heartfelt and effective address to runners and coaches before the start of the event. Melba had all the competitors recite the Special Olympics pledge, “Let me win; but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” She emphasized that these words apply to all athletes entering competition….not just Special Olympians.
As usual, the race venue was spectacular, with its trademark “Arc de Balloons” finish line and “Homestretch of 1,000 Cones”. Nobody does it better than the track club’s Ray Hanlon and Bill Lott! Gulf Winds T.C. presence at the event was stronger than ever, with Mike Sims, Gary Griffin, Terry Massa, Sarah Docter-Williams, Julie Clark, J.D. Warren, Tim and Lisa Unger, David Yon, Susan Cornwell, Jesse Close, and Jerri Hannah among the group of “overqualified” volunteers! (My sincere apologies to anyone whose name I inadvertently omitted.)
A sincere “thank you” to the many other groups and individuals who continue to help make the Owl Run the special event it has become: Diane, and all the folks at Balloons Unlimited, for their generosity and labor in providing the “centerpiece” of the event; the Everhart parents, for taking on the responsibilities of traffic control, t-shirts, volunteer coordination and food/drinks; Ricky Bell, of Leon County Schools Student Activities Office, for his ongoing support of the Owl Run, and making sure there are shirts for all runners; F.S.U.’s Brian Mosier and Susan Crow, and Florida High’s Jarrod Hickman, for providing the waves of volunteers that roll in all morning; Joe Dexter, for organizing, loading and unloading all that race equipment; and, of course, “super scorers” Lamons Warren and Marilynn Wills, who coordinate, compile, and print up the results year in and year out!
We look forward to seeing everyone again next year at the 2008 edition of the Owl Run. If you have never had the chance to attend this event, do yourself a favor, and come on out! Experience the uninhibited exuberance of the Everhart students as they pass in front of the spectators, or the spirit and determination of the middle schoolers as they launch into their sprints around the final turn. You’ll like the way it makes you feel….I guarantee it!