Increased Participation Leads to More
BY JOHN HARWICK
PITTSBURGH, PA--Three college men and one high school girl provided the pre-Fourth of July fireworks in the Jerry Richey Mile races in the Pittsylvania Mile Run on June 28 at Carnegie Mellon University.
Jerry Richey, honorary chair for the fourth annual meet, won six PIAA titles in XC and track from 1965-67 at North Allegheny High. He won the 1970 NCAA indoor 2M title during his Pitt career.
Slippery Rock's Jake Moore, Pitt's Steve Gonzalez, and Duquesne's Brent Rogus staged a thrilling battle in the men's 16-19 race with several lead changes on a sunny morning on the 8-lane Surpan track.
Jake--second in the race in 2001 as a Penn-Trafford High senior--edged Steve, 4:36.9 to 4:40.1. But the Rock sophomore missed the 4:36.7 record set last year by Steve by the narrowest of margins.
Marissa--third in the WPIAL 3200--won the women's 16-19 race in a convincing 5:14.7 to knock 11.5 seconds off the 5:26.2 record set by Washington High's Anna Beck in 2001. Anna took third that year in the PIAA 800.
Runners from the host West Penn Track Club dominated the meet by winning 17 of the 27 races. Three West Penners repeated: Elmer Gasper (70-74), Joyce Geroux (55-59), and Larry Van Dyke (40-44).
Participation climbed from 58 last year to 63. And the slim increase helped account for the men breaking four records and the women breaking three and establishing four (including one for the racewalk):
14-15: Tim Phillips of Baldwin High ran 4:58 to break the 4:58.3 record set by John Nemeth of Wings of Moon in 2002.
35-39: Jim Beck of West Penn ran 5:39.5 to break the 5:40 record by Dan Sheehan of Pittsburgh in 2000.
40-44: Larry Van Dyke of West Penn ran 4:44 to break the 4:48 record set by teammate Carl Hubel in 2000.
70-74: Elmer Gasper of West Penn ran 8:50.6 to break his own record that was established in 2002.
14-15: Rachel Umbel of Indiana High ran 5:56.7 to break the 6:45.3 record set by Bridget Sedlock of Bethel Park High in 2001.
16-19: Marissa Umbel of Indiana High ran 5:14.7 to break the 5:36.2 record set by Anna Beck of Washington High in 2001.
20-24: Deborah Glosser of West Penn ran 6:21 to establish a record.
30-34: Carmella Salem of West Penn ran 6:30.2 to establish a record.
35-39: Lisa Falenski of West Penn ran 7:04.2 to establish a record.
40-44: Nicole Constable of West Penn ran 7:04.1 to break the 9:09 record set by teammate Silvia Paesano in 2001.
45-49: BJ Kosmach of the South Park Runners walked 11:36.5 to establish a record.
Runners from ten high schools ran in either the 14-15 or 16-19 races: Baldwin, Central Catholic, Gateway, Indiana, Mt. Lebanon, Penn Hills, Penn-Trafford, Valley, West Allegheny, and Westmont-Hilltop. West Allegheny runners--coached by marathoner Jim Hamilton--led the way with six runners. Jim served as the honorary chair for the 2002 Pittsylvania XC Challenge, and each year he conducts a pre-race clinic for the Saucony XC Series.
Injury stopped West Penn's George Carroll--winner of the 55-59 race from 2000-2002--from trying for a fourpeat.
Eight sets of siblings ran: Matt and Heather Detwiler; Barry and Bob Harwick; Mike and Katie Harwick; Ben and Chris Harwick; Jake and Jenn Moore; Matt, Kimberly, and Melissa Payton; Stephen and Shannon Scabora; and Marissa and Rachel Umbel. And two other siblings--Mary Carolyn and Mark Harwick--worked as volunteers.
West Penn's George Dieffenbach--for the second year in a row--won the consistency award. George ran 5:28.8 in 2001, 5:28.2 in 2002, and 5:26.2 this year.
Dario Donatelli, men's XC and track coach at Carnegie Mellon University, started the races, and Mark Schwartz, long-time USATF official, served as the referee.
Dick Firsching--1945 PIAA 220y gold medalist for Mt. Lebanon High--served as custodian of awards.
Three runners have competed in each of the four meets (2000-2003): West Penn's Elmer Gasper and Lee Zelkowicz, and Dan Holland of the Pittsburgh Pharaoh Hounds.
Nineteen runners ran in both 2002 and 2003. Thirteen of them ran faster the second time around. West Penn's Elmer Gasper (35.3 seconds), teammate Ben Harwick (19.7 seconds), Phillip Pillin (16.4 seconds) of the Jock Shop/OH, Craig Ball (14.5 seconds) of Penn Hills High, and West Penn's Franklin Chen (12.2 seconds) improved the most.
Runners ranged in age from 6-year-old Katie Harwick of West Penn to 81-year-old Stuart Kaufman of Mt. Lebanon.
Two runners broke records by less than a second. Baldwin High's Tim Phillips ran 4:58 to break the 14-15 4:58.3 mark set by John Nemeth of Wings of Moon in 2002. West Penn's Jim Beck ran 5:39.5 to break the 35-39 5:40 mark set by Dan Sheehan of Pittsburgh in 2000.
Honorary chair Jerry Richey took third in the 50-54 race.
West Penn's Larry Van Dyke, teammate Joe Seiler, and Phillip Pillin of the Jock Shop repeated their 1-2-3 40-44 finish from last year.
Two West Penners bettered the U.S. Masters All-American Standards. Larry Van Dyke's 4:44 beat the 40-44 4:50 standard, and Barry Harwick's 4:51.3 beat the 45-49 5:00 standard.
Thirty-three of the 63 finishers (52%) represented West Penn, but--as usual--the men outnumbered the women, 22-11. Last year the host club's men outnumbered the women, 21-5. Moving from 18% to 33% represents considerable progress for West Penn's women.