Connor, Jackucewicz Sweep 11th Annual
BY BILL SMALLWOOD
PORT REPUBLIC, NJ--There were dual winners in the 11th Annual Don Smith Memorial Scholarship Run held Saturday, May 13, as Blake Connor and Briana Jackucewicz each carried home a pair of trophies.
Port Republic's own Connor, former Absegami High School cross-country and track standout, claimed the first place overall mile run trophy, with a very respectable 4:56. He then sped to a 17:51 time in the 5K race to add a second first place trophy to his collection. Blake attends Rutgers University.
Dolph Hoch finished a close second overall in the mile with a time of 4:59, followed by Joe Iullucci at 5:01.
The top female mile finisher was 9-year-old Briana Jackucewicz who clocked in at 5:44. Astin Barber (6:18) and Jennifer Rosas (6:19) were her closest competitors.
Jackucewicz, like Connor, carried home a second first-place award, beating Lauren Rhatigan by four seconds (18:22 to 18:26) to take the 5K female honors. She finished third overall in that race. Cathie Gottlieb was the third female finisher.
There were well over 300 participants total in both events, an outstanding turnout considering the many races throughout South Jersey on the same day.
2000 Scholarship Awards Announced
At the presentation of the race awards, the Don Smith Memorial Scholarship Committee announced that Absegami Seniors Lisa Klima and Colette Connor were each awarded $1000 scholarships to assist them with next year's college costs.
Klima will attend the College of New Jersey and Connor will be heading south to the University of Richmond.
Also, Katie Smith, the daughter of the late Don Smith, and his widow, Kathleen, will be receiving a $1500 scholarship for the next four years to assist them with college expenses.
Katie, also an Absegami senior, recently was accepted at Princeton University and plans to attend that prestigious New Jersey institution next fall.
Her older brother, Michael, also will be receiving a similar scholarship.
A feature of the race was the presence and participation of the United States Coast Guard's Regimental Runners from the Cape May Training Base. Over 80 members of Fox Trot 157 Company were involved.
The scholarship and race committee also expressed their appreciation to the Atlantic County Division of Roads and Bridges for their help in road preparations prior to the race and wished to thank the New Jersey State Police (West Creek Barracks) for their help in traffic control on race day.
1. Blake Connor 17:51
1. Warren Walker 19:24
1. Dan Tamburilla 20:30
14 and Under
1. Tim Crotchfelt 19:47
1. Chad Skinner 20:34
1. Pete Winberg 19:00
1. Dolph Hoch 19:16
1. Bernie Dessoye 20:46
1. Tom Campo 20:56
1. Steve Bogardo 22:17
70 and Over
1. John Rhatigan 26:11
1. Blake Connor 4:56
6 and Under
1. D.J. Garman 8:17
1. Dave Foulke 6:57
1. Ronnie Rosas 6:11
1. Davin Devlin 5:29
1. Andy Mynes 5:41
1. Murry Brek 5:25
1. Joe Weinert 6:23
1. Pete Nelson 6:08
1. John Errickson 6:46
1. Vincenzo Tronu 6:46
70 and Over
1. James Higber 8:20
1. Briana Jackucewicz 18:22
1. Deborah Weiner 21:15
14 and Under
1. Amanda Weber 21:57
1. Kristen Story 26:03
1. Lisa Pemberton 22:03
1. Jocelyn Weinert 20:26
1. Kathryn Tell 22:08
1. Susan Connelly 24:32
1. Briana Jackucewicz 5:44
6 and Under
1. Katie Weinert 9:56
1. Danielle Wessler 7:18
1. Milissa Crosson 6:27
1. Ashley Pierce 6:41
1. K.A. Howard 7:16
1. Brook Kennedy 8:48
1. Brenda Wessler 9:36
1. B.J. Kinade 7:05
1. Janet Longo 11:27
1. Mary Jane Robinson 14:46
70 and Over
1. Catherine Seifreid 14:45
Community Spirit Shines Through
[Editor's Note: Katie Smith, the late Don Smith's daughter, wrote a noncompetitive essay. She did not compete for the scholarship in memory of her dad.]
BY KATIE SMITH
The skies were black and clouds threatened to unleash an angry torrent of rain, but nothing could dampen the spirits of the hundreds of people crammed into the tiny multi-purpose room of the Port Republic Elementary School as they awaited the beginning of the 10th annual Don Smith Memorial Scholarship Run. Excited greetings exchanged between friends and family members, who had long been apart, echoed throughout the room as lines of people anxiously waited for their T-shirts and numbers, the signs of a successful registration. A wide range of people were assembled in the room, spilling into the parking lot outside. Experienced runners jogged gracefully in the cool air outside, energetic youngsters raced around the gym, and elderly grandparents talked proudly about their grandchildren. Each prepared for the upcoming race in their own way, completely unconcerned about the dismal weather outside.
Fast forward approximately one hour to the same multi-purpose room, where the same people gathered excitedly. This time, however, each was soaking wet as a result of running through the rainstorm that deluged the town outside, yet each face radiated joy. How can this be? How can so many people be so exhilarated after pushing their bodies to physical extremes through a torrential downpour? It seems like an unlikely situation, yet such was the case Mother's Day weekend 1999 at the 10th annual Don Smith Memorial Scholarship Run--a community-sponsored event held each year in memory of my father.
This ten-year-old tradition holds a special place in the hearts of my mom, brother, and me as it is a thread that brings both sides of our extended family together. Members of my family live in areas of the country spreading from here in New Jersey all the way across the United States to Seattle, Washington. It often seems impossible for all of us to get together as a family, but the Don Smith (as it is affectionately called) does just that. On the Saturday before Mother's Day, the traditional day of this beloved event, members of the Smith, Harper, and Leeds families flock to Port Republic to gather as one kindred and celebrate the life of my dad. Each race day is an emotionally challenging time as long-buried emotions are evoked and memories flood through our minds, but the nearness of so many family members is a comfort that cannot be measured. Each family member is an invaluable source of strength to every person there, a support group that makes the Don Smith the great tradition that it is today.
People in the community also experience a great sense of kindred and bond together in order to make this weekend a success. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of work and dedication that the Port Republic community commits to see this event flow successfully. Not only is there a small group of individuals who begin to prepare for the race immediately following its predecessor, working day in and day out to get sponsors, order T-shirts, hire official timers, process applications, and many other tedious tasks, but there is a high level of involvement throughout the rest of the community. Many friends and neighbors volunteer their time to help out at registration, to bake goods for the bake sale, to work at the water stop, or to simply participate in the race. It is a truly incredible experience to see all of these people gathered together to honor the life of someone so close to me, someone that I love so dearly.
Not even the storm that soaked the earth during last year's
race could ever wash away the feeling of warmth and love that
I get as I watch all of the people that I love the most celebrate
my father's life in this awesome tradition that combines both
my family and community into one entity of love and support.
All of these people go to such great efforts to help make this
annual event something incredibly special for my mom, my brother,