By David Yon
The crowd was electrified quickly surpassing anything I have ever seen in a local road race. As the count went past 20, 25, they cheered and hooted. As the competitors collapsed one by one the crowd pressed in closer. The cheers became a deafening din as the remaining competitors pushed on. Thirty five and counting and there were fewer than five competitors left, then four, three, two and finally only one – Lincoln runner Cody Vincent had won the first ever Post Pre Push Up Competition. A mixture of Race Director Jeff Nielsen, Gary Droze and Prefontaine is bound to produce something never seen before and that is just what happened this year. As Gary Droze was announcing the awards to the high school competitors he finished up by announcing the first ever “push ups competition.” Each of the boys’ teams designated their best competitor and they all started at the same time with the winner being the one who lasted the longest.
Whitney Strickland from North Florida Christian led more than 10 teams and 166 runners in the high school competition as GWTC continued its series of races supporting local high school cross country competitions. Trinity Prep placed 5 runners in the top ten to dominate the boys competition scoring only 32 points. Adriana Piekarewicz won the girls competition with an impressive time of 19:22. On the girls team side it was Maclay that dominated the competition. Unlike last year, the high school teams ran a different course than the open runners this year. The course, which had to be changed at the last minute to accommodate the park permitting process, was much faster than the traditional Pre course.
Gary Droze broke from his coaching duties long enough to win the Open competition by a wide margin running 18:19 to beat second place Kyle Larson who ran 19:06. On the women’s side Jane Johnson captured the title with a time of 24:06. Julie Clark cruised in second in a time of 25:09. The open course was in surprisingly good shape as recent rains packed the sand firmer than usual.
Proceeds from this year’s race were dedicated to St. Francis Wildlife Foundation.