Tradition caters to variety

A recent college graduate from Lewistown, who has aspirations of running in the Olympic trials, and a cross-country coach/mother of four from Alexandria were the 15K winners in the Hollidaysburg Area YMCA’s July 4 Race that started and finished in downtown Altoona on Friday morning.

A record turnout of 1,054 runners competed in the 40th edition of the holiday race on a pleasantly-cool morning.

Alex Monroe, a 2014 graduate of Lock Haven University from Lewistown, won the men’s 15 K championship in a time of 49:20.84.

Six-time winner A.J. Kelly of Altoona, the defending champion, was runner-up in 52:23.62. The rest of the top five included Ken Goodfellow (52:41.37), Mike Heck (57:45.37) and Jonathan Makoczy (58:36.10).

“This was my first time running here,” said the 22-year-old Monroe. “A lot of my teammates at Lock Haven are from Altoona and they recommended coming here.

“They said it’s a fun race with good competition as well and it was a beautiful day for it,” Monroe said. “It was a good race.”

Monroe said his college teammates said Kelly would provide good competition for him, and Monroe was impressed.

“He’s obviously an outstanding runner,” Monroe said of Kelly.

The recent oppressive heat was missing which made for almost ideal running conditions.

“It was awesome,” Monroe said. “This was my first real, hard effort since graduating, and I thought it was a good, solid effort.”

Monroe, who majored in pre-physical therapy, said he’s taking a couple years off from his studies to run.

“I’m training for the half (marathon) now and hopefully will train for the (Olympic) Trials, so we’ll see what happens,” he said.

A graduate of Indian Valley High School, Monroe ran cross-country and both indoor and outdoor track at Lock Haven, concentrating on the distance events. He hopes to become a professional runner and then return to grad school for physical therapy.

Krista McCrum of Alexandria was the women’s 15K champion in a time of 1:02:50.54. McCrum, cross-country coach at Juniata Valley High School, missed the awards ceremony because she had to return home where her four children were taking swimming lessons.

Dolores Gahagan, Krista’s mother, accepted the medal for her daughter, who was a past champion of the July 4 race.

“She’s been running it for years and has won it a couple of times,” Gahagan said of her daughter. “Her dad said she’s won at least three times.”

Jayme Orr was runner-up in the women’s 15K with a time of 1:05:08.14. Orr was followed by Michelle Herman in 1:05:10.39, Becky Wittrig (1:06:38.26) and Debbie Conner (1:07:21.59).

The name of the race was actually changed to the Angie Gioiosa Memorial Race a couple years ago and Angie’s mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Gioiosa, who will be 101 years old in October, was on hand for the awards ceremony.

Dave Patterson, a protg of Gioiosa and a 2014 inductee to the Blair County Sports Hall of Fame, ran in the 5K Race.

The men’s 5K winner was William Kachman of Bedford, who covered the course in 15:50.68. He was followed by Dominic Stroh (16:56.36), Bryce England (16:56.54), Bradley Foust (17:02.33) and Shane May (17:25.38).

Leah Anne Wirfel of New Germany was the women’s 5K winner in 18:59.33. Arlee Simendinger (19:48.33) was second, followed by Colleen Kelly (19:55.25) and Alexis Preston (21:58.98).

The 2-mile walk was won by Sam Freet with a time of 20:10.33. She was followed by Donna Stoltz (20:19.70), Stewart McClellan (20:49.84), Sharon Logan (20:50.77) and Joni Reismeier (21:17.79).