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Sunday, March 17, 2002 -- Grafton, WV
Grafton 5 Mile Run/Walk (iPO Event Id#: 4761)
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] [Set 8]
[1999 Coverage] [2000 Coverage] [2001 Coverage]

Race Pic
Sheesh, these early season races are tough
A little rain couldn't stop a flood of runners and walkers from taking to the streets of Grafton, West Virginia, for the 27th Annual Grafton 5-Miler. And it didn't do much to slow Morgantown's Heather Bury, the runner for Saucony and PowerBar set a new female course record in a time of 30:46.

Before the big kids took to racing, there was time for a roughly half-mile kids race. With all the participants earning medals, handed out by the Grafton High School's Bearcat mascot, all the young runners were certainly winners.

When the 5-Mile runners toed the line, it was 2:00pm and it looked as though the rain might hold off. It didn't. But the cool temperatures actually made the running conditions fairly nice.

Heather Bury
Heather Bury really didn't need any luck on St. Patrick's Day
When the starting signal was given, Mt. Pleasant, Ohio's Ben Bolock and Fayetteville, West Virginia's Larry Taylor soon established themselves at the front. The pair ran together for the first two miles with Bolock, a 19-year-old Alderson-Broaddus College freshman, pulling ahead for a small lead in the third mile.

The 41-year-old Taylor, the defending race champion, finally lost touch in the fourth mile. Crossing the four mile mark includes the largest hill on the course. Gaining a comfortable lead, Bolock coasted to the finish for a winning time of 26:48. Taylor easily held on for a second place finish in 27:27.

The battle for third also wasn't settled until well into the race. Running stride for stride through the first half of the race were 16-year-old Grafton High teammates John Riffle and Scott Gemberling.

Larry Taylor
Only Ben Bolock could out run Larry Taylor
Around the three mile mark, a misstep by Gemberling proved costly as it resulted in a slight muscle pull. It was all Riffle needed to pull away and grab third with a time of 28:16.

Also taking advantage was 26-year-old Elkins native Sidney Gillispie. Down the final stretch to the finish he caught and passed Gemberling to finish fourth overall at 28:50. "I have to thank my coach, Will 'The Legend' Shaw, for my strong finish" said a humble Gillispie after the race.

Gemberling still managed a fifth overall finish at 28:59. He was also rewarded for his efforts with the trophy for first overall Grafton High finisher. Also getting special honors was 13-year-old Brandon Miles. He took home the first overall Taylor County Middle School finisher's trophy with a time of 39:21.

For the women, Bury dashed all hopes Grafton High senior Sheri Flohr may have had of three-peating as the female champion. Bury's record setting run had her finishing an impressive seventh overall.

Race Pic
Reaping the rewards on race day
Flohr was impressive none-the-less and set a personal best for the Grafton 5-Miler with a time of 32:57. She easily took second for the females and will be headed to the Naval Academy in the fall.

Taking third for the women was Clarksburg's Stephanie Hatfield. Finishing at 36:16, the Robert C. Byrd High School senior will be off to run for West Virginia Weslyan next year.

Other female special award winners were Nicole Tingler (37:06), first Grafton High finisher, and Valerie Wood (45:03), first Taylor County Middle School finisher.

Taking place during the 5-Mile event was a 2-Mile Walk. It was a runaway (or should that be walkaway) victory for Parkersburg's John Elliot. The 52-year-old Elliot completed the out-and-back course in a time of 20:29. The first female, and second place overall, was Morgantown's Yvonne Willems (21:54).

Race director Coach Martin put on another great event and thanked everyone for helping support the Grafton High Girls Track & Field Team.