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Tomato Festival king reigns in convincing fashion

Jeff McCabe of Exeter wins the 5K race by more than a minute, in 15:58.

The field is off and running in the Pittston Tomato Festival 5K. The first of the record 329 finishers was Jeff McCabe of Exeter.

bill tarutis/for the times leader

PITTSTON – As Jeff McCabe trailed a couple of younger runners early in the Pittston Tomato Festival 5K Run on Saturday, he knew for sure that he would catch and pass them.

He did in convincing fashion, winning by more than a minute in 15 minutes and 58 seconds.

“They were just showing off,” McCabe said of the young runners who set the early pace. “They went out way too fast for what they were capable of running. I just kept running my own race. I passed them about halfway over the first (concrete) bridge (about 600 meters into the race).”

McCabe’s pre-race goal was to better his winning time from a couple of years ago. But that didn’t happen.

“When I got to the 1-mile marker, I was slower than I wanted to be,” said McCabe, who ran track and cross country for Edinboro University. “I moved it up over the second mile and was happy with my time at the 2-mile marker. But I was unable to kick in an extra gear over the last mile. I didn’t have anyone pushing me. That didn’t help. And the heat was pretty tough over that final mile. I missed bettering my (winning) time from a few years ago by a couple of seconds.”

Josh Krall, 17, of West Pittston, finished second in 17:16. Paul Leonard, 47, of Forty Fort, finished third, 11 seconds behind Krall.

Maria DeMuro overcame a slow start and won the female division of the race, in 19:53.

“I went out good,” said DeMuro. “But I felt a little tired. I’m in the midst of an 80-mile week of running. I just ran 16 miles two days ago. All of that running lately probably contributed to my feeling tired.

“The girl who finished second (Bonnie Kretchik, 25, of Wyoming, who finished in 20:25) kept surging into the lead over the first two miles,” said DeMuro, who ran track and cross country for King’s College. “My fiancée (Justin Winters) was standing there at the 2-mile marker. And he yelled to me to pick it up a bit. I picked it up. And I soon found myself gradually increasing my lead. I finished strong and felt good when I reached the finish line.”

Catherine Lombardo, 14, of Pittston, placed third, one second behind Kretchik.

DeMuro and Winters celebrated their recent engagement by winning the West Pittston 4-Miler in June.

Ceremony memorializes duo

This year’s race was highlighted by a ceremony that took place just before the start of the race. Race officials memorialized Joshua Miller, a state trooper and Pittston native, who was killed in June at age 34 after a car chase while attempting to apprehend a kidnapping suspect in Monroe County. State trooper Rob Lombardo ran the race in memory of Miller. And 80 state troopers, in addition to Lombardo, ran in the race in procession fashion in memory of their fellow trooper.

Jimmy Duffy, also of Pittston, who died in February at age 67 from Lou Gehrig disease, was also memorialized. Duffy had volunteered his services at the race since its inception. Duffy’s son, Jay, who is one of the race directors, ran in memory of his father.

Pittston Tomato Festival’s 11th annual 5K Run results

Top 10

Jeff McCabe, 25, Exeter, 15:58

Josh Krall, 17, W. Pittston, 17:16

Paul Leonard, 47, Forty Fort, 17:27

Jacob Schultz, 17, W. Pittston, 17:35

John Martino, 25, Dallas, 17:59

Chris Hromek, 16, W. Pittston, 18:23

Corry Read, 22, Tunkhannock, 18:35

Jeff Colarusso, 19, Hanover Twp., 18:36

Frank Spear, 23, Simpson, 18:42

Matt Sharr, 17, Avoca, 18:42

Male award winners: Overall: 1. McCabe; 2. Krall; 3. Leonard. Age group winners: 14 & under: Vinay Murthy, Larksville, 19:15. 15-19: Jacob Schultz, W. Pittston, 17:35. 20-24: Corry Read, Tunkhannock, 18:35. 25-29: John Martino, Dallas, 17:59. 30-34: Jared Godicwski, Taylor, 21:19. 35-39: Donny James, Hunlock Creek, 22:39. Masters Division: 40-44: John Sobocinski, Dallas, 18:46. 45-49: Mike McAndrew, Avoca, 20:09. 50-59: Tom Ducatte, E. Stroudsburg, 21:04. 60 & over: Bob Doble, Clarks Summit, 26:09.

Top 3 female finishers

Maria DeMuro, 24, Pittston, 19:53

Bonnie Kretchik, 25, Wyoming, 20:25

Catherine Lombardo, 14, Pittston, 20:26

Female award winners: Overall: 1. DeMuro; 2. Kretchik; 3. Lombardo. Age group winners: 14 & under: Kaitlyn Kuchta, Duryea, 22:12. 15-19: Pooja Patel, Laflin, 21:45. 20-24: Maria Baldino, Hampton, N.J., 22:20. 25-29: Kristen Sabastion, Pittston, 22:36. 30-34: Holly Hochreiter, Laflin, 24:14. 35-39: Joanne Flynn, Exeter, 21:02. Masters Division: 40-44: Sherry Strok, Moosic, 26:25. 45-49: Shivuan O’Donnell, Dallas, 31:26. 50-59: Marie Gregg, Dunmore, 27:40. 60 & over: Cathie McHale, Pittston Twp., 36:50. Field: 329 finishers (record field). Official starter: Joe Curry. Timing: Vince Wojnar (Wyoming Valley Striders). Results: Insta Results. Race directors: Jerry Mullarkey and Jay Duffy. Tomato Festival Chairperson: Lori Nocito.


Sept. 5: Wyoming Valley Striders 35th annual Cliff Robbins Sr. Memorial High School (invitational) Cross Country Races at Misericordia University, Dallas (note: this is a new location for these races). Race No. 1. Junior High Girls 3K, 9:30 a.m. Race No. 2. Junior High Boys 3K, 10:10 a.m. Race No. 3. Varsity Girls 5K, 10:45 a.m. Race No. 4. Varsity Boys 5K, 11:35 a.m. Awards ceremony, 12:25 p.m. Info: Vince Wojnar, 474-5363.

Oct. 4: Lupus Loop 5K Run/Walk at Nay Aug Park, Scranton, at 11 a.m. Info: Janice Liddic, 558-2008.

Oct. 18: Lupus Loop 5K Run/Walk at Kirby Park, Wilkes-Barre, at 11 a.m. Info: Janice Liddic, 558-2008.

Oct. 25: Wyoming Valley Striders 22nd annual Fall Trail (5.5 mile) Run at 1 p.m. at Frances Slocum State Park, Kingston Twp. Info: Vince Wojnar, 474-5363.

Nov 1: Jewish Community Center of Wyoming Valley’s Benjamin August Memorial 3 mile Run/Walk at 10:30 a.m. at the JCC, S. River St., Wilkes-Barre. Info: Bill Buzza, 824-4646.

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