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Last-Minute Decision Leads to 5K Victory

May 26, 2012
By SHAWN RINE - Sports Editor , Ogden Newspapers Half Marathon Classic

WHEELING - Just by chance, Matthew Szymaszek found out about the Ogden Newspapers 5K Run and Walk. There wasn't much luck involved in the result, though.

A former team captain on the Marist College Cross Country team in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Szymaszek shot to the front Saturday and had clear sailing from there, crossing the finish line first in a time of 16:31.7.

A third-year medical student at Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Szymaszek, 27, is currently in a rotation at Ohio Valley Medical Center.

Article Photos

Matthew Szymaszek - 5K men's winner

"I run a lot, and I am always looking for races," he said. "I heard one of the residents talking about doing the (half) marathon and I thought, 'Hey, I wonder if there's a 5K because I'm not in half shape yet?'"

He was in good enough condition to hold off the New Martinsville duo of James Haught, 17, who finished in 19:20.9, and Cameron Benson, 19, who crossed with a time of 19:22.4, by almost 3 minutes.

"I was looking at the results of years past, and there's some pretty fast times," Szymaszek said. "I didn't know what to expect, honestly. I knew the heat was going to be one of the biggest factors, but it wasn't too bad."

As it turns out, Szymaszek not only won the race, but did so in a fashion completely different from the strategy he normally employs in such events.

"I like to hang back for the most part. I never really go to the front -- ever," Szymaszek said. "But the opportunity came at that first turn, and I just took it and nobody else came, so I just tried to hang on."

Cameron Eberhard, 15, of Wheeling (19:26.8), and Bridgeport's Kevin Simpson, 13, who finished in 19:41.1, rounded out the Top-5.

On the women's side, the winner is no stranger to doing well. At 50 years old, Upper St. Clair's Tina Seech ran a half marathon last week and finished first overall. She also ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon and was the top runner in her age group.

She crossed the line Saturday in a time of 20:42.1, just ahead of runner-up Mallory Hudson, 19, of Burgettstown, Pa., who clocked in at 20:47.3.

"I ran (the Ogden 5K) last year and got first in my age division, so I was hoping to do that again or better," said Seech, who lists her personal best in a 5K at 19:56. "I run from April-September or October. I run 10 or 12 races a year."

Seech said she passed Hudson at about 2 1/4 miles and was just hoping there wouldnt be a reversal of fortune.

Chicago's Jennifer Park, 33, Amber Zambito (23:09.0), a 28-year-old Wheeling runner, and Parkersburg's Lindsay Wimer, 27, finished third-fifth.

Paden City's Alex Thoburn, 50, crossed the finish line in 31:46. 4 to win the men's walking portion of the event, just edging Tony Purpura, 62, of Wheeling (31:56.6). Michael Carpenter, 52, of Barnesville, was third, followed by Bethesda's Ryan Hudak-Hill, 28, and Jim Matysiak, 53, of Martins Ferry.

Lowell, Ohio's Donna Graham, 62, was a runaway winner on the women's side of the walk, clocking in 31:56.0. Kate Krupa, 43, of Shadyside, Mary Ellen Morris, 57, of Martins Ferry, Linda Fuls, 64, of Clayton, Ohio, and Belmonts Jennifer Grant, 25, rounded out the Top-5.



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