Last year a York High grad dominated the competition in the Yorktown Independence Day 8K Run, with Jack Little, 23, of York High School class of 2012 winning by 1 ½ minutes with a time of 27:36.
This year, two recent York High grads dominated the race, as Dawson Connell, 22, of Yorktown (class of 2014) held off Andrew Osborne, 24, of Yorktown (class of 2012) by just eight seconds, 27:49 to 27:57.
The July 4 race has particular appeal for those former York High standouts, as the registration, refreshments and awards are inside the high school cafeteria, and the 8K (4.97 miles) loop course is on the adjacent Yorktown Battlefield tour roads.
Little went on to an outstanding collegiate career at the University of Tennessee, while Connell has been one of William and Mary’s leading cross country and track runners the past four years, and still has one more year of cross country eligibility. Osborne excelled for Lynchburg College.
After Connell and Osborne, the leading men were Kevin Bennett, 29, of Newport News (28:56), Greg Lynn, 44, of Hayes (30:48), Allen Fleming, 16, of Yorktown (32:15), Frank Leone, 33, of Newport News (32:34), Steven Smith, 49, of Hampton (33:33), Paul Day, 33, of Norfolk (33:42) and Steve Seiler, 32, of Williamsburg (34:00).
For the women, Jennifer Anderson, 37, of Poquoson won this year in 33:23, an improvement of more than a minute over her 2017 runner-up time of 34:26.
The race of the day, though, came from an 11-year-old phenom, Jolynn Rodriguez of Casselberry, Fla., who placed second overall in 34:34, holding off third-place Alison Valrey, 13, of Hampton by just two seconds. In April, Rodriguez ran a 19:24 for the 5K distance, placing second of 868 women in the Run for the Trees 5K in Florida. She also has track PRs of 5:35.66 for 1,500 meters and 11:20.41 for 3,000 meters.
Rodriguez, who competes for the Central Florida Striders, had the highest age grade of the day, a national-class percentage of 80.36. Eight other runners were above the 70 percent regional-class level, including Connell (76.21%), Osborne (75.86%), Mary Jo Bailey, 57, of Williamsburg (38:58, 75.58%), Lynn (74.09%), Bennett (73.29%), Anderson (73.02%), Smith (70.77%) and Valrey (70.19%).
There were a total of 260 finishers in the 8K run, 184 finishers in the 5K run and 51 finishers in the 5K walk, a total of 495. The races were organized by and benefited the York County Historical Museum, with chip timing by Mettle Events. Last year there were 257 finishers in the 8K and 152 finishers in the 5K.
The top three in the out-and-back 5K run on the tour roads were Travis Booker, 33, of Chesterfield (18:26), Aaron Klimchock, 19, of Newport News (19:10) and Connor Mahan, 24, of Hampton (19:22), with Patrick Waller, 23, the top Williamsburg finisher (19:57).
For the women the top three were Lydia Wilson, 21, of Smithfield (19:25), Cheyenne Durda, 15, of Painesville, Ohio, (21:36) and Eda Kininger, 39, of Williamsburg (24:40). The winners of the 5K race walk were Scott Stakes, 55, of Portsmouth (34:46) and Glenda Schan, 48, of Providence Forge (40:20).
The Yorktown races were morning events, so all the runners and walkers could have their picnics in the afternoon and fireworks in the evening. A week and a half earlier, a number of energetic local runners had a different type of race day, completing the Two River Challenge, competing in the WISC Gymnastics Flipping 5K, a Colonial Road Runners Grand Prix event at the Billsburg Brewery/James City County Marina, in the morning, then driving to Gloucester for the evening’s Riverwatch on the Piankatank 5K, a Peninsula Track Club event. There were 26 who finished both races, including a large number from the Williamsburg area.
The morning race, overlooking Powhatan Creek, was won by Roger Hopper (16:28) over Matt Joossee (18:13), and Emily Jakob (19:25) over Thorin Jean (20:02), while the evening race, overlooking the Piankatank River, was won by Wayne Parfitt, 52, of Newport News (18:27) over Christopher Schleif, 43, of Toano (20:20), and Thorin Jean, 17 (20:44) over sister Sorenna Jean, 16 (21:24), both of Williamsburg.
Besides Thorin Jean, Sorenna Jean and Chris Schleif, other Williamsburg-Yorktown area runners who earned the Two River Challenge medal were Chris Abelt, Larry Arata, Jimmy Blount, Nancy Blount, Randy Hawthorne, Cannon Jean, Criztina Jean, Benjamin Kaurich, Darryl Liechti, Laura Liechti, Brenda Mitchell, Maria Peters, Steve Peters and Elizabeth Schleif.
Age graded, at the WISC Gymnastics race, those above 70% were Ben Dyer (81.29), Hopper (78.85), Paul Pelletier (77.57), Greg Lynn (76.63), Jakob (76.05), Jason Miller (75.41), Thorin Jean (74.88), Matt Joosse (74.20), Dave Coy (73.95), David Anderson (72.07), Samantha Bradley (72.03), Ken Sumrell (71.16), Harriet McCoy (70.86) and Norma Phillips (70.22).
Platt is president of Colonial Road Runners.