Last updated: March 16. 2014 11:53PM - 1173 Views
By Robert Miner For The Times Leader

Ali Schappert was the first female in the Run for the Leprechaun, which took place Sunday in Swoyersville.
Ali Schappert was the first female in the Run for the Leprechaun, which took place Sunday in Swoyersville.
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SWOYERSVILLE — The Susquehanna River Runners Club kicked off its second season with its inaugural 1 Mile Run for the Leprechaun on Sunday morning at Murphy’s Pub amid temperatures in the low 20s.

John Martino and Ali Schappert ran to wins.

Martino broke the tape in 5 minutes and 5 seconds. The 29-year-old from Dallas outraced second-place finisher, Jeff Skwierz, 31, of Forty Fort, by seven seconds.

“Jeff led most of the way,” Martino said. “I caught and passed him with about a quarter of a mile to go. Once I took the lead, I just pushed as hard as I could to the finish.

“I was fortunate to get in my training over the winter, even with all the bad weather. But I couldn’t do a lot of speed work because of all the snow and ice on the track and dike. But I feel good about my performance here today.”

Schappert, 27, of Hanover Township, won the female division easily, crossing the finish line in 5:57. Jill Matthews, 34, of Nanticoke, finished second among the females, 21 seconds behind Schappert.

“After the first quarter of a mile into the race, I realized just how cold it really was when my body started stiffening up,” Schappert said. “I knew then, I went out too hard for the conditions. So I just held on to the finish knowing my friends were in it with me.”

Like Martino, Schappert felt good about her win, especially considering how the bad weather cut into her training.

“The weather over the winter cut into my training big time,” Schappert said. “The weather kept me inside. But I basically focus more on the summer anyway. However I am running in the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon in April. So I’ve got to get going with my training.”


• Martino ran track and cross country for Marian Catholic High School in Tamaqua and for Misericordia University, where he was named to the All-PAC second team as a senior.

• Skwierz ran track and cross country for Hazleton Area High School and for Lock Haven University.

• Schappert ran track and cross country for Meyers High School and for Misericordia University. The mile and 5k were her specialties. She medaled in the mile at the ECAC meet in her senior year.

• Matthews ran cross country for Hanover Area High School. She was an outfielder on the Iona College softball team.


Susquehanna River Runners Club

1 Mile Run for the Leprechaun

Top 10

1. John Martino, 29, Dallas, 5:05

2. Jeff Skwierz, 31, Forty Fort, 5:12

3. Ali Schappert, 27, Hanover Twp., 5:57

4. Victor Verdekal, 31, Wilkes-Barre, 6:02

5. Jill Matthews, 34, Nanticoke, 6:18

6. Kayla Weaver, 25, Hazleton, 6:44

7. Joe Skwierz, 57, Freeland, 7:21

8. Rich Chase, 67, Larksville, 7:45

9. Cassidy Verdekal, 11, Wilkes-Barre, 8:05

10. Ann Verdyla, Tunkhannock, 8:20

Male award winners

Overall: 1. Martino; 2. Skwierz.

Age group winners

Under 20: None. 20-29: None. 30-39: 1. Victor Verdekal, Wilkes-Barre; 2. Anthony Verbyla, Luzerne.

Masters division

40-49: None. 50-59: 1. Joe Skwierz, Freeland. 60 & Over: Rich Chase, Larksville.

Female award winners

Overall: 1. Schappert; 2. Matthews.

Age group winners

Under 20: 1. Cassidy Verdekal, Wilkes-Barre. 20-29: 1. Kayla Weaver, Hazleton. 30-39: 1. Ann Verbyla, Tunkhannock; 2. Kellie Kizis, Exeter.

Race director: Chris Wadas. Starter: Frankie Redmond. Results: Susquehanna River Runners Club.


Sunday: Wyoming Valley Striders 34th annual Winter’s End (4.5 mile) Run at Penn State Wilkes-Barre, Lehman Township at 11 a.m. Info: Vince Wojnar, 570-474-5363 or 570-574-6911.

Sunday, April 6: Inaugural Scranton Half Marathon, starting near the Glider Diner, Providence Road at 9 a.m., near Scranton High School and finishing on the track at Memorial Stadium at Scranton High School. Info: Matt Byrne, 570-955-0921. Registrations closed.

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