Lambert completes comeback from cancer
He takes win in 3-mile walk;
Philips, Neer tops-in 4-mile run.
Kokomo Tribune - Sunday, July 06, 2008
By CHRIS GARNER
Sometimes a race is more than just a race for medals
or trophies. It's a race for life.
In the tightly knit community of competitive walkers,
Jerry Lambert's name was conspicuously missing from the
front of the pack at the 2007 Haynes-Apperson Sports
Festival 3-mile walk.
Although still a competitor a year ago, the perennial
champion had a greater challenge to face - cancer.
Now in remission and "doing fine," Lambert
returned to the top of the heap to capture the 31st
running of the annual run/walk that concludes at Kautz
"[Doctors] gave me three to six months to live and
that was a year and a half ago," said Lambert, who
estimated he's won the walk race "probably 12
"Everything's fine," he said. "Since about
four or five months ago I'm almost back to like I used to
Kokomo's Bryan Phillips was easily the overall winner of
the 4-mile run Saturday, covering the city course in
exactly 21 minutes. Former Western Middle School runner
Waverly Neer of Russiaville defended her women's title in
The 71-year-old Lambert said that during his battle he
received plenty of encouragement from fellow walkers Mary
Miller of Bunker Hill and Rick Spencer of Lucerne.
As the top female finisher Saturday, Miller was second
overall, with Spencer third.
"He didn't know how ill he was," Miller said of
Lambert. "Rick and I talked that night before they
told Jerry the prognosis and we cried for an hour on the
phone. We were right by his side."
Miller credits Lambert for getting her interested in
walking, although initially "she did more talking
than she did walking," according to Lambert.
"This young lady right here came [to the hospital]
and we walked the halls and [later we] walked the malls
and she got me through last year," Lambert said of
"He's like my adopted father, so it brings tears to
my eyes when I think about how we went through the cancer
together," Miller said. "He's awesome."
Phillips, a 2004 Kokomo High School graduate, was more
than 30 seconds faster than runner-up Austin Young, a
junior this fall at Western High School.
Phillips was third the last two years, trailing only
three-time winner Kyle Walsh and two-time runner-up B.J.
Needier of Warsaw.
Needler was fifth Saturday behind Phillips, Young,
Western senior Corey Scott and Scott Col-ford of
This fall Phillips is headed back to the University of
Southern Indiana fora fifth year of college, planning to
get his degree in exercise science.
"I still have some eligibility left, so I decided to
use it" he said. "It should be exciting."
"I'll go from there. I might try to get into a
masters program somewhere- I don't know; we'll see."
Neer led the women's field from start to finish but had
plenty of competition from Heather Weber of Kokomo.
Although Neer's time was 27 seconds faster than least
year's win, Weber was just five ticks in arrears at 24
"She is a great runner and a great person," the
15-year-old Neer said of Weber. It was really fun to run
with her. She really pushed me [Saturday] and I
Weber, who was pregnant with her third child during last
year's race, said it really wasn't that close.
"I don't think there was too much competition!"
Weber said with a laugh. "She's 20 years my younger.
There's no way I was catching her [Saturday]. She's an
After last year's Haynes-Apperson win, Neer enrolled at
Westfield High School for her freshman year and already
has two state championships to her credit - one team
title with the Shamrocks in cross country and one as a
member of the winning 4x800 relay team.
Neer was all-state in cross country and placed second
behind Alex Banfich of the Culver Academies in the 3,200
"It's been absolutely great," Neer said of the
transition to Westfield. "I really love my
teammates, and of course I miss my teammates out at
Western so much, but I still get to see them. I think
it's the best of both worlds."
Young and Scott were two members of the Western boys
cross country team that reached the New Prairie Semistate
last season. The Panthers have their sights set higher in
"Right now we've just been putting in our base
miles, trying to get up to about 60 miles a week or so -
just trying to get strong for this season," said
Young, who finished in 21:34. Scott was third in 21.41.
"This year we want to go to state," Young said.
"We should have a pretty good chance to make it with
our top five scorers back."