Youth Prevails at
BY NEAL RIEMENSCHNEIDER
SHIPPENSBURG, PA--February 3rd was cold and blustery as gusty, frigid winds, combined with temps in the low 20s, saw a windchill of five degrees (or so said weather.com). It was a day for tights, gloves, mittens, hats, you name it. The trick was to stay warm and comfortable (with comfortable being a relative term in these conditions) while still being able to run!
The race begins and ends at Heiges Field House on the campus of Shippensburg University. Fittingly, four male members of the Ship cross-country team broke away at the start and ran together for the first half-mile. At that point, teammates Steve Thomson and Darrin Wingard broke away and were the first runners to tackle the brutal head wind. Hitting the turnaround together, and with the wind now behind them, the two runners poured it on. As they approached the two-mile mark, Thomson made his move to pull away from Wingard. I made it a point to surge the last mile and when I took the lead I just tried to stay focused on my stride, explained Thomson, a sophomore who is majoring in Exercise Science. Stopping the clock at 17:17, Thompson took the win by finishing six seconds up on Wingard.
For the women, it was a similar story as a lead pack of four ladies linked up at the start and stayed together for the first half-mile. By mile one, it was a pack of three ladies in the lead: Neely Spence, Lara Crofford, and Jordan Jenkins, all members of the Cumberland Valley Athletic Club. With less then a half-mile to go, Spence took the lead, which she kept to the finish line, hitting the tape in 18:25. I wanted to run 6:00 pace and get in a good workout so I am very pleased with my time. Spence, a 16-year-old home schooler who runs for Shippensburg High School, stated she felt good considering the conditions.
Top Masters finishers in this event were Masaki Ito (18:34) and Maryls Palmer (24:51).
There were 69 hardy finishers and many of them made a beeline for the school dining hall for their postrace meal (I recall running this race way back when with the Mrs. and bringing the girls and going to the dining hall and spending a few hours grazing on food and chatting with fellow finishers). The race raises funds for a scholarship for a Political Science major at the university. To date, 22 scholarships have been awarded to worthy students.
SPENCE NOTES: Many of you will recognize the last name of womens winner Neely Spence. Her father is Steve Spence, a former world-class runner and current cross-county coach at Shippensburg University (a certain Editor/Publisher of RG had her picture taken with Steve and used it for her Christmas card a few years back). Over the years, I have had the pleasure of interviewing Steve for RG and he has always been a polite, well spoken, and unassuming person. The same is true for his daughter. Neely was also very polite, quiet, and unassuming during our brief interview and just seemed to be a very nice young lady. The only part I found disturbing was, having interviewed her father years ago and now interviewing her, I felt old. Its kind of the same situation as having a student in my class whose parent I taught some years back. Time will march on no matter how hard we fight it.