Thursday, March 14, 2019

Alex McDonald repeats and Amanda Sava cracks 20:00 at the Sisson 5K

On Saturday morning, 9 March 2019, the sixth annual 2LT Justin Sisson 5K had a new starting line. In spite of that change, the overall winner was the same as in 2018. Alexander McDonald, a senior ROTC cadet at Florida State University, won the race for the second year in a row, running 18:14. Amanda Sava, a Florida State grad student, was the first overall woman, placing fifth overall in 19:54. The race has been held every year since 2014 on the Tallahassee, Florida campus of Florida State University in honor of FSU alumnus Justin Sisson. Sisson was killed in action in Afghanistan during 2013 while serving in the United States Army.

Alexander McDonald
Alexander McDonald

There is a five kilometer loop on the Florida State University campus. The route takes in the lowest spot on the campus, the flood plain of Budweiser Creek, southeast of the football stadium. It also hits the highest spot, the intersection of College Avenue and Copeland Street. Westcott Hall is there now, but in Tallahassee’s days as the territorial capital the prominence was called Gallows Hill. You have to hope the condemned were given a ride to the top. Surely it would have been “cruel and unusual” to make them walk.

At least the condemned wouldn’t have much time to be tired.

Almost all of the campus 5K races use the loop. Most of those runs start at the Integration Statue on Woodward Plaza—not the highest point on the course, but of the lowest, either. In past years the Sisson 5K started at Landis Green, another spot of median elevation. The 2019 race started and finished at the Unconquered Statue at Langford Green, nearly the lowest spot on the course. There wouldn’t be any uphill to contend with at the end of the race, but that just meant the runners would have to deal with it elsewhere.

Kurt Dietrich
Kurt Dietrich

"It's harder than when they started at Landis. It's the same course, but the hill was over there," said Kurt Dietrich, who finished second in 18:58. "The hill" was Gallows Hill, which the runners now had to climb during the fourth kilometer of the five kilometer race.

Race-day registration ran from 8:00 to 9:00 AM, followed by the National Anthem. Several spoke honoring the sacrifice of Sisson in particular and members of the service more generally.

"This is truly a celebration of the life of a patriot and a great American," said FSU President John Thrasher.

Amanda Sava
Amanda Sava

The race started at 9:30. McDonald was out front from the very first.

"I went out fast," said McDonald. "Then the heat got to me around Landis Green. After that the hills were tough."

The hills and the heat may have been a problem for McDonald, but the competition wasn't. His winning time of 18:14 put him across the finish line nearly 200 meters ahead of the next runner. Kurt Dietrich didn't start off as quickly as McDonald. Dietrich was in fifth place after 800 meters of running, but moved up through the field during the run to finish runner-up in 18:58. Jonathan Tolmich took third in 19:28.

"I ran for one year in high school," said McDonald. "Milton High School. Cross-country and track. Since then I just train with ROTC."

Chantelle Jerald
Chantelle Jerald

Amanda Sava's running background was more extensive than McDonald's. After running cross-country for Sussex Tech High in Georgetown, Delaware, Sava spent four years on the Florida Tech Panthers cross-country team. That's many years during which Sava ran a lot of five-kilometer races, cross-country, track, and road. Her 19:54 at the Sisson 5K was the fastest of them all.

"It was my PR by about twelve seconds," said Sava. "First sub-20:00. I've been working at that barrier for a while."

Chantelle Jerald took second in the women's standings and seventh overall, running 20:11. At 22:44, Melissa Kratzke was the third woman and nineteenth overall.

Melissa Kratzke
Melissa Kratzke

258 athletes finished the 2019 2LT Justin Sisson 5K. Proceeds of the event benefit the Justin Sisson Scholarship Fund, which awards scholarships to deserving Army ROTC cadets. Miles and Minutes, LLC, of Tallahassee timed the race.

Top Ten Men, 2019 2LT Justin Sisson Memorial 5K
  1. 18:13.7, Alexander McDonald
  2. 18:57.1, Kurt Dietrich
  3. 19:28.0, Jonathan Tolmich
  4. 19:45.3, Drake Vaske
  5. 20:06.1
  6. 21:04.4, Javier Benabe
  7. 21:18.9
  8. 21:25.9, Daniel Croom
  9. 22:20.8, Daniel Wiefels
  10. 22:25.4

Top Ten Women, 2019 2LT Justin Sisson Memorial 5K
  1. 19:53.3, Amanda Sava
  2. 20:10.8, Chantelle Jerald
  3. 22:43.9, Melissa Kratzke
  4. 23:09.5, Savannah Markell
  5. 24:25.8, Talya Winton
  6. 24:26.3, Julie Cruz
  7. 24:39.9
  8. 24:43.3, Ruth Carr
  9. 25:42.8, Lauren Healy
  10. 25:59.0, Lexington McLellan

2LT Justin Sisson Memorial 5K winners, 2014 - 2019
22 February 201417:38, Zach Deveau19:51, Kate Harrison475
21 February 201516:59, Michael Magoulas22:16, Chantelle Brodie302
20 February 201617:37, Alexander McDonald21:53, Lindsey Ginther322
4 March 201717:01, Mark Zamani18:26, Sheryl Rosen261
24 March 201817:54, Alexander McDonald20:28, Alyssa Terry310
9 March 201918:14, Alexander McDonald19:54, Amanda Sava258


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