WILKES-BARRE — Chris Wasnetsky and Deedra Porfirio ran to easy wins in the Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Foot Race on Sunday in Kirby Park.
Wasnetsky, 24, of Dunmore, broke the tape in 26 minutes and 52 seconds, 1:20 shy of his own course record that he set two years ago.
The former standout runner from Bishop O’Hara High School and the University of Scranton outdistanced second-place finisher, Sean Robbins, 43, of Shavertown (the area’s top male triatlete) by 1:39. Alex Zubko, 18, of Dallas, finished third, 10 seconds behind Robbins.
“I ran with somebody for the first mile,” Wasnetsky said. “Then I pulled away. Once I pulled ahead, I settled into a good pace. I didn’t want to push too hard.”
That’s because Wasnetsky was running in his first race following a year layoff.
“It was a good day to run (weather wise),” Wasnetsky said. “It would have been even better had the race started an hour earlier (the race started at 10 a.m.). It got a little hot towards the end of the race. And that made the hills — although they (dike) aren’t really hills — a little tough. I’ve been training on the track since February. So hills are a bit tough for me right now.”
Porfirio, 36, of West Pittston, had been a little disappointed in her running so far this season, especially in shorter distance races (she’s been running in quite a few longer distance events). But she was happy with her ninth-overall finish in 32:19 that gave her the win.
Porfirio, who dominated the female divisions of most area races last year, outran second-place finisher, Whitney Lukas, 20, of Courtdale, by 1:36. Patricia Buzinkai, 33, of Kingston, finished third in 35:08.
“I led the entire way,” Porfirio said. “I felt really good today. I wasn’t challenged by another female throughout the race. I could see, at the turnaround, that (Lukas) was at least a minute behind me. So I just settled into a nice, even pace the rest of the way.”
In 2004, race officials from the Wyoming Valley Striders running club added “Tim Thomas Memorial” to the Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Foot Race name in memory of Thomas, who was a standout runner from Plains Township and ran for Bloomsburg University. He died at age 31.
Each year Thomas’ widow, Kim, contacts all of the Wyoming Valley Conference guidance counselors with the criteria for entering a scholarship contest in Tim’s name. The contest is for high school seniors who plan to run at the college level.
Each contestant is asked to write Kim a letter explaining what running means to them. Kim then picks two winners (one boy and one girl) from the letters that impress her the most. Both winners then receive a $500 scholarship.
This year’s winners are Will Butkiewicz of Wyoming Valley West, who will attend the University of Pennsylvania, and Kylee McGrane of Coughlin, who will attend the College of Mount St. Vincent in New York.
Butkiewicz wrote about how having a passion for the sport — the extra effort on the part of the coaches and fellow runners — makes running extra special.
“I have learned that passion is required to make actions authentic,” he said.
Butkiewicz also expanded on getting use to the daily routine of training and how he learned to love it.
McGrane wrote about how her father, Paul, is her coach. And how he instilled in her a love for the sport.
“Without my father, my coach, I would’ve never fallen in love with track and field,” McGrane said. “Without my father, my coach, I never would have believed that my dream of being on the podium would’ve been possible. My dad is my track coach. Without track and field, my father and I wouldn’t be as close as we are.”
Wyoming Valley Striders
39th annual Cherry Blossom 5 Mile
“Tim Thomas Memorial” results
1. Chris Wasnetsky, 24, Dunmore, 26:52
2. Sean Robbins, 43, Shavertown, 28:31
3. Alex Zubko, 18, Dallas, 28:41
Male age group winners:
19 & under: 1. Alex Zubko, Dallas, 28:41; 2. Mike Lewis, Shickshinny, 30:54; 3. Jeff Austin, Pringle, 31:45. 20-29: 1. Dave Houssock, Plymouth, 34:55; 2. Carl Evarts, Lake Ariel, 43:54. 30-34: 1. Mike Adamshick, Dallas, 33:17; 2. Chris Banks, Wilkes-Barre, 33:47; 3. Glenn Zimmerman, Wilkes-Barre, 35:32. 35-39: 1. Dave Homa, Ashley, 36:02; 2. Matt Kearns, Exeter,43:57. 40-44: 1. Sean Robbins, Shavertown, 28:31; 2. Rob Baran, Plains Twp., 34:17; 3. John Jeddic, Hanover Twp., 36:25. 45-49: 1. Ed Grivensky, Plains Twp., 35:20; 2. George Dunbar, Old Forge, 35:24; 3. Bob Guzenski, Dallas, 36:28. 50-54: 1. Mike McAndrew, Avoca, 29:54; 2. Anthony Pszeniczny, Mountain Top, 32:13; 3. John Hrycyna, Sugarloaf, 39:57. 60-64: 1. Ed Zindell, Jermyn, 36:06; 2. Mick Lisnock, Sugarloaf, 42:03. 65-69: 1. Max Furek, Mocanaqua, 36:30; 2. Joe Dutko, Mountain Top, 36:36; 3. Frank Gaval, Sugarloaf, 44:20. 70 & over: 1. Tony Cerminaro, Jermyn, 36:29; 2. Jim Rehrig, Nazareth, 39:37; 3. Rich Hause, Berwick, 62:30.
Top female finishers
1. Deedra Porfirio, 36, W. Pittston, 32:19
2. Whitney Lukas, 20, Courtdale, 33:55
3. Patricia Buzinkai, 33, Kingston, 35:08
Female age group winners:
19 & under: 1. Shelby Foster, Dallas, 37:54; 2. Stephanie McCole, Wilkes-Barre, 39:46. 20-29: 1. Whitney Lukas, Courtdale, 33:55; 2. Lesley Warren, Kingston, 36:19; 3. Cat Volmer, Columbia, Md., 40:26. 30-34: 1. Nicole Albright, Shippensburg, 40:42; 2. Nicole Biscotto, Dallas, 42:25; 3. Gretchen Mijajlovic, Berwick, 43:19. 35-39: 1. Patricia Buzinkai, Kingston, 35:08; 2. Mariann Jurista, Mountain Top, 38:15; 3. Darby Kiley, Ithaca, N.Y., 40:35. 40-44: 1. Ann Zoranski, Swoyersville, 35:11; 2. Traci Dutko-Strungis, Mountain Top, 38:38; 3. Dawne Scheller, Madison Twp., 41:59. 45-49: 1. Chris Fazzi, Bear Creek, 39:21. 50-59: 1. Jill Hildebrand, Wapwallopen, 39:51; 2. Joyce Foster, Dallas, 41:53; 3. Barbara Kent, Nescopeck, 44:18. 60 & over: 1. Bev Tomasak, Edwardsville, 44:08.
Field: 108 registered, 103 finishers, five no shows. Pace bike: Ron Rawls. Official starter and timing: Vince P. Wojnar. Results: Wyoming Valley Striders. Race directors: Vince A. Wojnar and Don Grose.