Walsh wins third straight HA 4-mile run

Kokomo Tribune - Sunday, July 01, 2007

Tribune sportswriter

Kyle Walsh can claim himself a dynasty after he three-peated in the 30th edition of the Haynes Apperson 4-mile run Saturday. The run took place in downtown Kokomo, finishing at Kautz Field.

Walsh covered the course in a time of 20 minutes, 33 seconds, equaling the fastest time since 2001 when Syd Nicholson crossed the finish line first. Walsh is now one win away from tying the mark set by Tim Mylen, who is a four-time winner though his wins were not all consecutive.

OFF AND RUNNING: Runners and walkers head south on Apperson Way at the start of the Haynes Apperson Sports Festival’s 4-mile run and 3-mile walk Saturday morning.

“It was a lot of my motivation to come out here and run hard,” Walsh said. “I had a really rough week working and working out, and I wanted to come out here to run a fast time against great competition.”

Walsh is a former Western standout who now runs at Indiana State University. He wasn’t sure if he was going to compete in this year’s race, but as it got closer he was primed and ready.

“I registered [Saturday], because in advance I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to make it,” he said. “As this week came along, I knew that I was going to be in town, and I definitely wanted to be here to run it.”

Walsh likes how the course is laid out, and it showed as the 20:33 is his fastest time since he has been running competitively.

“I ran it some when I was younger, but I haven’t ran really competitively till the last three years,” he said. “It’s been the same course since I have been running.”

After Walsh, B.J. Needler finished in second place (20:40) and Kokomo’s Bryan Phillips came in third (20:54).

Waverly Neer completed a Western sweep as she was the top female in a time of 24:22. Neer’s time is the fastest for a female since 2001 when Gretchen Folck won in 24:19.

At 14 years of age, Neer might be the youngest female to win. She has shown her prowess competing in the Junior Olympics last year.

“I’m pretty sure [I am the youngest to win],” Neer said. “This is my second [Haynes Apperson] race. I didn’t enter it last year because I had enough races with nationals and stuff. But I ran when I was in sixth grade.”

Neer was nearly two minutes ahead of her competition. Western’s Katie Hollingsworth was second (26:11) and Tri-Central cross country coach Robyn Pagington was third (26:11).

“They’ve got some great runners like Annina [Gruber], Hollingsworth out here, plus Kokomo’s Nicole Parry, and a bunch of runners,” Neer said.

Last year’s winner, Gruber, finished in fifth place in 27:08.

Muncie’s Greg Callahan was the overall top walker winning the 3-mile walk in 30:12.

“It always feels good [to win],” Callahan said. “Just placing feels good to me.”

For Callahan, the third time was a charm.

“I have won my age group the other two times, but first time overall,” he said. “It’s good competition up here and [Club Kokomo] puts on a good race. That’s why I keep coming back.”

Callahan also likes to come back to Kokomo because the city hosts several walking races.

“A lot of times I race in Indianapolis, but they don’t have a lot of walk races, so we come up here,” he said.

Following Callahan was Lucerne’s Rick Spencer in second place (30:26).

Bunker Hill’s Mary Miller was third overall, and the top female walker. Miller finished with a top time of 31:58. Miller loves to compete in this race and has taken top honors three years in a row.

“I have been looking forward to this race every year,” Miller said. “It’s a good race that Club Kokomo puts on. I just like to get out here, and mingle with other friends that I have out here. It’s like a big family.”

Miller has won all seven walk races that she has participated in this year.

“I have been gifted with talent, so I like to share it,” she said. “I give glory to God for my hips, and it keeps me in shape.”

West Lafayette’s Jill Eberle was second (35:04), and Russiaville’s Amanda Pena was third (36:29).

In the 1-mile fun run, Kokomo’s Carl Christianson was first overall (5:39) and Kokomo’s Heidi Freeman was the top female runner (5:39). .