ELYRIA — David Woodward won the men’s overall title at the James A. Kerstetter Memorial 5K for the second consecutive year Saturday.
He was more than willing to give Brennan Crawford a lot of the credit for his success.
Woodward, a maintenance supervisor at Ross Incineration Services, said Crawford, from Amherst, made him earn the win on the downtown road course.
“He pushed me as much as I ever have been pushed today,” said Woodward, who passed Crawford in the final mile. “The last quarter mile here, in this race, he pushed me harder than anyone has pushed me. I’m thankful for that and probably owe five or six seconds of my time to him because he pushed me so hard at the end. He almost got me.”
Woodward used the same game plan he used last year, trying to stick with Crawford early and hoping to hold him off at the end.
Like last year, Woodward passed Crawford on Harrison Street, right before the runners turned on to Washington on the way back to the start-finish line.
“He brings the heat every year,” Woodward said of Crawford. “He goes out hard and fast from the very beginning, and my challenge is to keep up with him.
“His comfort zone is a big lead so I just have to try to keep it tight and look for a chance to take it over in the end. I was lucky enough to do it today.”
Woodward finished in 16:31.7 while Crawford ran a 16:33.2. Avon Lake’s Eric Alu rounded out the top five at 16:43.8.
Elyria Catholic graduate Alexa Geary claimed the top spot in the women’s division, edging Westlake’s Katie Grahlfs, 20:40.4 to 21:22.7. Erin Mariner was third in 21:39.6.
“It’s really special because it’s a local race,” Geary said. “I grew up in Elyria and I haven’t run this race for a couple of years because I haven’t lived in Ohio. It’s special to come back and run for the community and for fallen officers everywhere. It’s a very special day.”
Geary, who attended Ithaca College in New York and is now a physical therapist at Advanced Orthopedics in Warrensville Heights, said she was pleased to see how many people came out for the event.
“I ran in high school and college and it’s fun,” she said. “It’s awesome to see the community come together because it’s not often we get to come together as a community for something.”
Saturday was the ninth edition of the race, which raises scholarship money for children of fallen officers. Kerstetter lost his life March 15, 2010, when he was shot while responding to a neighborhood disturbance call.
“Over the years it’s really grown,” race director Terry Costigan said. “It shows the community is supporting an officer who gave his all, who sacrificed his life for the community.
“To have a community event under his name is great. The money goes for scholarships and I like the fact that the community is coming out to support this event. We get a lot of repeat runners, so that just goes to show how much the community values this event.”
Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 30 president Lee Frank likes that the event allows police officers and citizens to get to know each other.
“It’s nice to see the public come together when there has been, at times, so much adversity between the police and the community,” Frank said. “We don’t want it to be that way, of course, and it’s really nice to see positive interaction between the police and the community. That’s what we strive for every day.
“It’s nice to honor Jim. His memory is not forgotten and it’s also nice to honor other police officers that have fallen. It’s really nice to see the community support.”
Men’s Top Three: 1. David Woodward 16:31.5, 2. Brennan Crawford 16:33.2. 3. Eric Alu 16:43.8.
Male age division winners
9-under: 1. Mateo Muratore, 2. Jack Frost, 3. Matthew Mencke; 10-13: 1. Tommy Ploskunak, 2. Zack Ploskunak, 3. Clay Kremer; 14-18: 1. Andy Ploskunak, 2. Joel Pospisil, 3. Jeremy Burnside; 19-24: 1. Denver Daniel, 2. James Hawks, 3. Creighton Jensen; 25-29: 1. Daniel Wentzel, 2. Will Sellers, 3. Tyler Robinson; 30-34: 1. Matt Polo, 2. Andrew Belzer, 3. Casey Bevington; 35-39: 1. Kevin Kirsh, 2. Jason Polo, 3. Tom Habenicht; 40-44: 1. Mike Mayer, 2. Robert Leininger, 3. Mike Baird; 45-49: 1. David Hathaway, 2. Tom Spayd, 3. Mark Allman Sr.; 50-54: 1. Jim Tuttle, 2. Jerry Chizmare, 3. Tom Kvach; 55-59: 1. Ned Kerstetter, 2. Terry Hunady, 3. Peter Duffield; 60-64: 1. Paul Norrod, 2. Joe Gensert, 3. Tom Hutchison; 65-OVER: 1. Jamie Pabon, 2. Guy T. Nicely, 3. Dave Lengye
Womens Top Three: 1. Alexa Geary 20:38.9, 2. Katie Grahles 21:20.6, 3. Erin Mariner 21:38.4
Female age division winners
9-under: 1. Bella Muratore, 2. Parker Thacker, 3. Fara Giganti; 10-13: 1. Aurora Davis, 2. Victoria Bell, 3. Miranda Bena; 14-18: 1. Emily Nemeth, 2. Alessandra Davis, 3. Kelsey Gannon; 19-24: 1. Cassadie Baker, 2. Meliah Roman, 3. Margot Novak; 25-29: 1. Brittany White, 2. Brittany Hirth, 3. Lauren Allen; 30-34: 1. Lauren Beck, 2. Marcie Brown, 3. Shannon Blaz; 35-39: 1. Celeste Hodous, 2. Becca Stone, 3. Vicki Barone; 40-44: 1. Libby Ploskunak, 2. Joanne Vance, 3. Leslie Calanni; 45-49: 1. Nancy Wells, 2. Shelie Rice, 3. Liz Kerstetter; 50-54: 1. Mary O’Neill, 2. Cindi Cobb, 3. Mary Jo Dziak; 55-59: 1. Carol Bokman, 2. Deborah Schroeder, 3. Katherine Dixon; 60-64: 1. Cynthia Brown, 2. Denise Gross, 3. Diane Nickle; 65-OVER: 1. Patricia Habenicht, 2. Janet Stoffer, 3. Sharon Koepf.