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Saturday, June 19, 2004 -- Coalton, WV
Vince Ross Memorial 5K - (D&E Series #3)
(iPO Event Id#: 6291) Story and photos by Heather Rau

[Details] [Coverage]
[Overall Results]
Pictures: [Set 1] [Set 2] [Set 3] [Set 4] [Set 5]

Vince Ross Memorial 5K
Rich Rodriguez poses on the stage with Little Miss Coalton
The Davis & Elkins "Century Medallion" Race Series continued with the Vince Ross Memorial 5K, the third run/walk in it's seven race series. What an excellent day to be in Coalton, West Virginia. Race Directors Joe Ross and Sam Severino put on a terrific race for the 11th annual Coalton Days Festival.

Over fifty nine competitors, several political dignitaries, the head coach for the nationaly ranked (5th in the country) West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers Football Team, Rich Rodriguez, and well known movie star/comedian, Leslie Neilson were all there enjoying the festivities.

Vince Ross Memorial 5K
iPlay Reporter Heather Rau smiles with Leslie Neilson
The day began with the sun breaking through thick clouds. Racers young and old gathered showing great enthusiasm. Walked around before the start of the race meeting and talking with the locals, the meaning of this day became apparent. It wasn't just the race that was important, it was that this day marked a feeling of pride amongst all residents and visitors. Coalton Days is held to celebrate the anniversary of the town's heritage. This year Caolton turned 111 years old.

At 9:00 am the race began and the runners were off. The course was designed by Sam Severino. It started flat and traveled along the Tygart river to the nearby forest. As the runners traveled through the woods they could enjoy the cool shade of the morning. This gave competitors the opportunity to pace themselves for the last third of the race, a gradual climb through the forest to the top of the town's main street.

Vince Ross Memorial 5K
Racers exit the woods
The cheers of onlookers and support of the local fire department guided racers to the finish. Bob Wilkins of Philippi, WV said, "I loved having a reason to stomp through puddles as I ran! It made me feel like a kid again."

The First to see the Finish
Bryant Cummings (18:31) took 1st Overall. Chris Bradley (21:10) crossed the finish line taking 2nd, with Todd Price (21:34). In the women's category, Chelsey White (24:28) was 1st to cross the finish line, with Becky Cain (25:16) behind her in 2nd and Phalyn Burr (25:43) in 3rd. All three of these women were in the 18 and under age group.

Vince Ross Memorial 5K
Can't wait for some festival fun
Age Group Awards
The 19 to 29 category brought Jeremy Vance (22:25) in 1st, John Bager (22:26) in 2nd and David Oldaker (22:50) in 3rd. The ladies 19-29 group, Ashley Jones (28:02) took 1st place, Kate Carney (30:24) 2nd and Jen Canoka (33:46) finished 3rd. Todd Price of the 30-39 group placed first with a time of (21:34), Shelton Barger (22:57) took 2nd and Vince Petrice (24:10) in 3rd. The women's 30-39 group found Betsy Frye (25:09) in 1st place, Erin Cash (25:14) in 2nd and Bridget Steele (25:15) in 3rd.

In the 40-49 group, Ed Borda (21:38) placed 1st, Chris Fry (21:57) came in 2nd and Michael Stennes took 3rd. The final group to report, 50 and up Joe Biola (23:30) took 1st, Jim Fregonara (24:29) place 2nd and Doug Williams (25:18) finished 3rd. All competitors raced with great energy and determination, some with the motivation to beat their best time and others purely to be outside enjoying the outdoors for another day.

Vince Ross Memorial 5K
We play outside, do you?
Coalton Days Festival
As the awards ceremony ended the buzz about the crowd was that the day was only beginning. Coalton Days is a special celebration. All along the main street booths were being set up, festival grounds were being groomed for the tractor pulls and the souped up lawnmowers were being tuned to their top racing strength. The smell of BBQ chicken streamed through the air and smiles were abound.

Big Names in a Small Town
As the mayor of Coalton introduced the many dignitaries on hand two very special gentlemen were arriving by helicopter to Senator Mike Ross's home just down the street. A few minutes later, WVU Mountaineers Coach Rich Rodriguez arrived along with the famed Leslie Neilson, star of the movies Airplane and The Naked Gun (Lieutenant Frank Drebbin, Police Squad). What a treat for everyone. They both gave short speeches, signed autograph, and posed for pictures. It was like a reunion. This small town showed their true colors on this day, welcoming all that wished to gather and celebrate the heritage of West Virginia.