Runners take off at the start of the Wyoming Valley Striders’ 35th annual Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Footrace in Kirby Park.Fred Adams/for the times leader
WILKES-BARRE – Chris Wasnetsky scored a wire-to-wire win and set a course record in the Wyoming Valley Striders’ 35th annual Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Footrace on Sunday in Kirby Park.
Wasnetsky, 20, of Dunmore, broke the tape in 26 minutes and 17 seconds, four seconds better than the course record set by Chris Wadas in 2006. Wasnetsky, who is a sophomore runner at the University of Scranton, outraced last year’s Cherry Blossom 5-miler winner, Jeff McCabe, 25, of Exeter, by 1:19.
“This was my first race since February,” said Wasnetsky. “I’ve been sidelined due to an Achilles injury, so I was wondering just how well I would do here today. But I felt good.”
Wasnetsky jumped in front right from the starting gun.
“When I reached the halfway point of the race, I had about a 20-second lead,” he said. “Then I just gradually increased my lead. But McCabe is also coming back from an injury (leg strain), so that probably hurt his ability to stay with me today.”
The women’s race was a lot more competitive.
Wendy Wood, 35, of Watsontown, won top honors in 32:13, scoring a four-second win over Ellen Krantz-Buskovitz, 36, of Mayfield.
Wood led most of the way. But Krantz-Buskovitz came alongside of her a few times during the last mile of the race.
“Each time she came alongside of me, I kicked in a surge,” said Wood. “And each time I was able to maintain the lead. And I was able to hang on for the win.
“I was motivated by Tim Thomas, for whom this race is now named (“Tim Thomas Memorial”). I ran on the same team with Tim at Bloomsburg University. And I came here to run today in memory of Tim.”
Thomas, who was a standout runner from Plains Township, died in the prime of his life in 2003 at age 31. Before his death, he had won numerous area races.
In 2004, officials from the Striders running club began calling the Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Footrace, the “Tim Thomas Memorial.” Tim’s widow, Kim, started a scholarship fund in her husband’s name in 2004 to fund a contest for college-bound runners. Only Wyoming Valley Conference high school seniors are eligible to enter the contest.
Each year Kim contacts all of the WVC guidance counselors with the criteria for entering the contest. Each contestant is asked to write Kim a letter explaining what running means to them. Then Kim selects two winners (one girl and one boy) who each win a $500 scholarship. This year’s winners were: Candice Bittner, of Dallas High School, and Michael Wintermute, of Tunkhannock High School.
Bittner, who specializes in the 300-meter hurdles and 1,600 meter relay, also enjoys competing in triathlons.
Her letter to Kim expanded on her dedication to running and how much she’s looking forward to running in the future. She’ll be attending Penn State’s main campus.
“The first thing I’ll be packing when I’m ready to move to State College will be my running shoes,” she said.
Wintermute’s letter to Kim was full of praise for his high school running coach, Randy White. He wrote about just how much White encouraged and guided him as a runner. And he also wrote about the big impact White had on his life. Wintermute will attend Wilkes University, where he will participate in its revived cross country program.
The Cherry Blossom race was the second leg of the Striders Triple Crown. Paul Leonard, 46, of Forty Fort, leads in the male overall and in the male masters division (40 and older). Leonard won the Winter’s End 4.5-miler (first leg) at Penn State Wilkes-Barre in March and finished fourth on Sunday in 28:23.
Kratz-Buskovitz, who won the Winter’s End race, leads the Triple Crown’s female overall division. Lynn Dolan, 45, of West Wyoming, who finished the Winter’s End race in 32:48 and finished fourth Sunday in 35:40, leads in the Triple Crown’s female masters division.
The final leg of the Triple Crown is the Summer 10Km Run at Kirby Park on July 26 at 9 a.m.
Wyoming Valley Striders 35th annual Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Footrace (second leg of Striders Triple Crown) and 1-Mile Fun Walk “Tim Thomas Memorial” results
Chris Wasnetsky, 20, Dunmore, 26:17
Jeff McCabe, 25, Exeter, 27:36
Steve Esposito, 19, Hallstead, 27:42
Paul Leonard, 46, Forty Fort, 28:23
John Evangelista, 39, Blakely, 28:59
John Zawadski, 37, Plymouth, 30:24
Bill Urbanski, 42, Kingston, 30:39
Brian Thomas, 39, Tunkhannock, 31:19
Tony Korch, 49, Nanticoke, 31:32
Dave Jiunta, 56, Pittston, 32:13
Male award winners: Overall: Wasnetsky. Age group winners: 19 & under: 1. Steve Esposito, Hallstead, 27:42; 2. Benji Brust, Olyphant, 34:19; 3. Eric Grego, White Haven, 36:06. 20-29: 1. Jeff McCabe, Exeter, 27:36; 2. Jesse Martin, Moscow, 34:26; 3. Kevin Brace, Drums, 34:41. 30-34: 1. Brian Hilburt, Wilkes-Barre, 32:54; 2. Joe Dowd, Pittston, 36:25; 3. Kyle Letner, Dillsburg, 38:25. 35-39: 1. John Evangelista, Blakely, 28:59; 2. John Zawadski, Plymouth, 30:24; 3. Brian Thomas, Tunkhannock, 31:19. Masters Division: 40-44: 1. Bill Urbanski, Kingston, 30:39; 2. Brian Krypel, Forty Fort, 32:41; 3. John Murphy, Scranton, 33:46. 45-49: 1. Paul Leonard, Forty Fort, 28:23; 2. Tony Korch, Nanticoke, 31:32; 3. Tim Clark, Mountain Top, 33:27. 50-54: 1. Mike Rawls, Mountain Top, 32:48; 2. Bill Fisk, Dallas, 33:04; 3. Joe Walsh, Lake Ariel, 33:58. 55-59: 1. Dave Jiunta, Pittston, 32:13; 2. Rick Hueholt, Berwick, 36:59; 3. Woody Haydt, Mountain Top, 37:06. 60-64: 1. Roger Ericson, Tafton, 34:54; 2. Max Furek, Mocanaqua, 37:05; 3. Steve Mardyniak, Hazleton, 37:47. 65 & over: 1. Tony Cerminaro, Jermyn, 35:24; 2. Mike Fay, Hazleton, 40:50; 3. Rich Hause, Berwick, 45:23.
Top 5 femle finishers
Wendy Wood, 35, Watsontown, 32:13
Ellen Krantz-Buskovitz, 36, Mayfield, 32:17
Kerry Potter, 36, Wyoming, 35:10
Lynn Dolan, 45, W. Wyoming, 35:40
Colleen Pomfret, 45, Dallas, 35:55
Female award winners: Overall: Wood. Age group winners: 19 & under: 1. Nora Fazzi, Bear Creek Twp., 38:28; 2. Taylor Pallotta, Dunmore, 40:45. 20-29: 1. Nikki Sabatura, Plains Twp., 37:03; 2. Emily Pickett, Exeter, 38:39; 3. Meagan O’Boyle, Wilkes-Barre, 38:40. 30-34: 1. Karen McLaughlin, Luzerne, 36:36; 2. Kerry Zawadski, Plymouth, 37:04; 3. Darby Kiley, Ithaca, N.Y., 41:07. 35-39: 1. Ellen Krantz-Buskovitz, Mayfield, 32:17; 2. Kerry Potter, Wyoming, 35:10; 3. Sandy Jesse, Dallas, 37:18. Masters Division: 40-44: 1. Tamara McGlynn, Parsons, 40:12; 2. Chris Fazzi, Bear Creek Twp., 41:09; 3. Hilary Cawselwitt, Friendsville, 54:25. 45-49: 1. Lynn Dolan, W. Wyoming, 35:40; 2. Colleen Pomfret, Dallas, 35:55; 3. Marsha Pulz, Vestal, N.Y., 39:43. 50 & over: 1. Sharon Davies, Mountain Top, 39:38; 2. Bev Tomasak, Edwardsville, 42:47; 3. Patty Phillips, Hanover Twp., 43:56. Field: 120 entered, 112 finishers. Official starters and finishing judges: Bob Spagna and Dave Grecco. Pace bikers: John Fisher and Nate Jacoby. Timing: Vince P. Wojnar. Results: Wyoming Valley Striders. Race director: Vince A. Wojnar.
Saturday: Candy’s Place 12th annual Rainbow Walk – a 2.5-mile fun walk that raises funds for Luzerne County cancer patients – at Kirby Park at 10 a.m. Registration begins at 9 a.m. Info: Candy’s Place , 714-7665.
Sunday: Wyoming Valley Striders’ 18th annual (5.3-mile) Spring Trail Run at the pavilion, near the boat launch area, at Frances Slocum State Park, Kingston Twp., Info: Vince Wojnar, 474-5363.
Saturday, May 23: 2009 Valley Great 8 (eight mile run) and 4 Mile Run at St John Bosco Church, Route 93, Conyngham at 8:30 a.m. Info: Mike Palermo, 788-1600.
Monday, May 25 (Memorial Day): Old Fort 5 Miler at the Forty Fort Borough Park, Wyoming Ave., Forty Fort, at 9 a.m. Info: Bernie Popson, 498-7665.