Youth Prevails at Memorial 5K


SHIPPENSBURG, PA--Kids…good to see them out competing on the roads. The 25th Annual Memorial 5K held on February 2 at Shippensburg University saw the top male and female winners to be, what I would term, kids (of course, anyone under the age of 30 is a kid in my eyes!).

Daniel Helfrick, a graduate of Ship, took the lead at the gun and won by a huge margin as he hit the tape first in 16:09. The 23-year-old had run the race a few times prior as a training run with the Ship track team but this was the first time he ran it hard. “I am just starting to train seriously to run on the roads and I wanted to see where I was at time-wise,” explained Helfrick. “I’m very happy with my time and I hope I can keep improving.” Finishing second was veteran racer and top Masters Tim Schuler who ran a stellar time of 17:13.

Last year at this race, I interviewed the women’s winner who was Neely Spence, daughter of Steve and Kirsten Spence. And please, don’t ask, “Who is Steve Spence?” Anyway, this year, the women’s winner was 14-year-old Reynah Spence. As I began to ask her a question, another young girl stood next to Reynah and the two of them began to answer my questions. It took me a bit but I soon realized that this other young lady had finished a close second and was Margeaux Spence. After another question or two it finally sunk in and I asked them, “Are you guys twins?” They were nice enough to respond with “DUH.”

Now I have twin nieces who are the apples of my eye and I have so much enjoyed watching them grow up and go off to college. These two young Spence ladies were just a delight as they kept finishing each other’s statements, correcting each other, and generally getting me so confused I am not sure who to attribute which quotes to! After a bit, I simply looked in between the two and just asked a question and let whoever wanted to answer it give me a response. At one point, I glanced over at their mom, Kirsten (who was a formidable runner a few years back) and I think I detected a slight smile as she seemed to enjoy having these delightful young ladies gang up on me!

What I did find out for sure is that they are both home schooled and after trying basketball and not having it work out, their mom suggested they “give running a try.” They have been at it about a year and “We usually race together.” But. “I beat her last time and she beat me this time.” There is no animosity between them as, “We try and work together but if one of us can’t keep up, the other can go on.” With their dad being the cross-country coach at Ship, “We have been encouraged to train with his team.”

In addition to their basketball and running endeavors, these young ladies are the proud owners of horses. And this I did get right: Reynah’s is named Mistletoe and Margeaux’s is named Tuppins.

And boy don’t I feel old…teachers always say that when you have the child of a former student in your class, you are old! Well, this is the first time I have ever interviewed someone whose parent I have interviewed preciously. I do feel old…

But back to the race for a bit: This event is put on to raise scholarship monies for the SU Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha (a national political science chapter). In its 25-year existence, the race has raised over $20,000 and awarded 23 scholarships to worthy students. The race also allows each registrant to chow down at the university dining hall as part of the entry fee. And boy oh boy, has campus food changed since I was in college. Pizza bar, sandwich bar, hot-food bar, and leave room for the most important bar, the ice cream bar! Time to pack on some calories!