Monday, September 2, 2019

Gary Droze and Morgan Wilson soar at the Bluebird 5K

There was no Bluebird Run For Brookie B in 2016. The race had been scheduled for Labor Day, 5 September 2016, and Tallahassee was preoccupied that day with cleaning up after Hurricane Hermine.

Gary Droze
Gary Droze

The fourth annual Bluebird Run was slated for Monday morning, 2 September 2019. Hurricane Dorian dominated the news, but that monster cyclone was well over 400 miles from Tallahassee--even if the Weather Channel wanted you to believe that the storm was in your bathroom, using your toothbrush and leaving the toilet seat up. So with the Capital City well outside Dorian’s forecast cone, the Bluebird 5K went ahead as planned at the Alford Greenway. Tallahassee Community College cross-country coach Gary Droze won the 3.1-mile race, running 19:13. Community Christian School sophomore Morgan Wilson took first in the women's standings, placing 32nd overall in 22:19.

Most of the Tallahassee area’s high school cross-country runners had raced two days earlier at Apalachee Regional Park in the third annual Big Bend Invitational, but many were at the Bluebird Run for a second helping of racing. Two of them, Aucilla Christian athletes Will Sullivan and Wyatt Stafford, were leading at the 400-meter mark, just after the 8:30 AM start of the race. They wouldn’t remain in the lead--Sullivan ended the race fourth in 19:29 while Stafford was eleventh in 20:37. Coach Droze, a master runner with more than four decades of competitive experience, was well aware that cross-country races aren’t won in the first 400 meters. The coach wasn’t even in the top ten that early in the Bluebird Run.

Keelan Tidwell

After four kilometers Sullivan was still leading, but he was being shadowed by Droze and two Community Christian School athletes, Nick Ciarlariello and Keelan Tidwell. All three eventually overtook Sullivan, but Droze was the first, going on to win in 19:13. Tidwell edged his teammate Ciarlariello for the runner-up position, 19:22 to 19:23.

No one would argue that the Bluebird Run course was particularly fast or easy. The Alford Greenway is hilly. The grass on the course had been mowed, but that only meant that it was ankle deep instead of shin deep. The grass was also soaking wet on the morning of the race. But the Greenway had its fans, including women’s champ Morgan Wilson.

Morgan Wilson
Morgan Wilson

“I really like this course!” said Wilson. “It wasn’t too hilly, and there were nice downhills after each uphill.”

Wilson was among the athletes who had run at the Big Bend Invitational two days before the Bluebird Run. How did the Alford Greenway compare to the well-groomed Apalachee Regional Park Cross-Country Course?

“I ran two second faster here than I did at Apalachee Regional Park,” said Wilson. That would be her fastest time yet in two years of cross-country racing.

Katie Sherron
Katie Sherron

Wilson first led the women’s field in the earliest stages of the Bluebird Run. With a kilometer to go, she was just a few steps ahead of master runner Lourena Maxwell. Wilson expanded that lead on the way to the finish line, taking the women’s title in 22:19. Maxwell was the second woman and 35th overall in 22:32. Dr. Katie Sherron, the first woman at the 2017 Bluebird Run, was the third woman in 2019, placing 41st overall in 23:05.

276 timed athletes finished the 2019 Bluebird 5K, while another 23 completed a one-mile fun run. Proceeds of the Bluebird Run go to fund the programs of the local affiliate of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, NAMI Tallahassee. Gulf Winds Track Club chip timed the races.

Top Ten Men, 2019 Bluebird 5K
  1. 19:13, Gary Droze (M, 58)
  2. 19:22, Keelan Tidwell (M, 15)
  3. 19:23, Nick Ciarlariello (M, 17)
  4. 19:29, Will Sullivan (M, 16)
  5. 19:35, Ryan Truchelut (M, 33)
  6. 19:52, Michael Martinez (M, 53)
  7. 20:03, Terance Keenan (M, 54)
  8. 20:29, Bill McNulty (M, 61)
  9. 20:32, Paul Guyas (M, 41)
  10. 20:33, Timothy Qualls (M, 40)

Top Ten Women, 2019 Bluebird 5K
  1. 22:19, Morgan Wilson (F, 15)
  2. 22:32, Lou Maxwell (F, 44)
  3. 23:05, Katie Sherron (F, 37)
  4. 23:44, Katherine Bouck (F, 15)
  5. 23:51, Laura McDermott (F, 39)
  6. 24:40, Adrienne Capeless (F, 30)
  7. 24:51, Sharon Sason (F, 31)
  8. 24:54, Monica Toth (F, 30)
  9. 25:03, Lauren Heitmeyer (F, 40)
  10. 25:10, Sarah Costello (F, 14)

Bluebird 5K Run For Brookie B winners, 2015 - 2019
7 September 201518:00, Tyler Heath20:07, Alyson Churchill226
4 September 201719:12, Jim Halley19:53, Katie Sherron187
3 September 201820:26, Bill McNulty23:06, Sarah Tychsen210
2 September 201919:13, Gary Droze22:19, Morgan Wilson276


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