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Saturday, June 17, 2000 -- Bridgeport, WV
WV Italian Heritage Festival (WVIHF) 5K
Story and photos by Don Parks

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results] [Results by Class]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5] [Set 6] [Set 7]
[1999 Coverage]

Race Start
Emily Drive is wide open for pedestrian traffic
The 2000 West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival 5K was also the USATF West Virginia 5K Championship. With both the male and female defending champions, Larry Taylor and Jessica Taylor, in the crowd on a cloudy and humid morning, well over 300 runners were ready to challenge them for the titles.

The course, almost identical to the previous year, raced through the streets and parking lots of Eastpointe II and Wal-Mart in Bridgeport. The race course began with a relatively flat out and back first two miles on Emily Drive, then finished with a nice downhill for most of the final mile. With traffic held back, the race got underway just after 8:30 a.m.

Taylor & Rengers
Larry Taylor chases Francis Rengers
Sprinting off the starting line a group of top area runners moved to the front with J.R. Luyster setting the pace for the first half mile. As Luyster dropped back into the lead pack, Larry Taylor soon moved in front and led through the first mile mark as the group began to thin out.

Not letting the 39-year-old Taylor get away, David Lyle, a 23-year-old graduate of Marshall and track team alumnus, challenged at the front and had an advantage by the halfway point. Also testing Taylor was 20-year-old Francis Rengers, who began to battle him stride for stride.

Heather Bury
Heather Bury, the WV 5K Female Champion
Taylor and Rengers battled back and forth through the second mile mark, then they began to gain on Lyle as they raced downhill starting the final mile. Lyle, who ran a 4:58 third mile, never let his pursuers close the gap as he went on to win in 15:52. In the final half-mile the younger legs of Rengers had the advantage as he went on to take second in 16:04. Taylor settled for third even though he improved on his 1999 winning time by almost 10 seconds with a 16:12.

Larry's daughter, Jessica, was also finding some tough competition on the women's side of the field. Jumping out to an early lead and never looking back was Heather Bury with a winning time of 17:31. The 25-year-old Bury is currently training out of Morgantown for a hopeful Olympic invitation and said she is in her best shape of the year. However, she thought her time was a little sluggish as she admitted, "I hate the humidity."

Cathy Cavallo
Family fun for Cathy Cavallo at the WVIHF 5K
The race for second also had a wire-to-wire winner on the legs of Greenville, PA's Jesi Christiansen (18:18). The 15-year-old's closest rival was her 17-year-old sister, Jil Christiansen (18:52). Jil spent most of the race chasing down Taylor and didn't pass her until the downhill on the final mile. "I didn't know if I'd be able to hold her off," said Jil, "but I did." Taylor did hold on for fourth overall with a time of 19:13.

Plenty more winners crossed the finish as everyone seemed to enjoy a great morning's run. The awards were held complete with all the water, All-Sport, and fresh fruit you cared to eat. What better way to recover from a great run? And you know, it is never too early to start getting getting ready for the 2001 West Virginia 5K Championship.