WILKES-BARRE — Jeff Skwierz, running in his first race since February, ran to victory in the second annual Max Fine 5K on Sunday at the Jewish Community Center.
Skwierz, 30, of Forty Fort, crossed the finish line in 16 minutes and 51 seconds, holding off second-place finisher, Kyle Suponcic, 22, of Shavertown, by three seconds. Nick Wadas, 31, of Kingston, finished third, four seconds behind Suponcic.
“It’s great to be out here running today, after what happened in Boston,” said Skwierz. “My thoughts and prayers are with those involved.”
Skwierz, who ran track and cross country for Hazleton Area High School and Lock Haven University, wasn’t sure just what to expect from his performance after being sidelined due to a calf injury.
“I let Kyle set the pace over the first mile,” said Skwierz. “I caught and passed him shortly after the first mile marker. We ran together until mile two. That’s when Nick caught up with us. Now there were three of us running in the lead pack. That’s when I slowly opened up a lead and pulled away.”
Both Skwierz and Suponcic run for the recently formed Susquehanna River Runners running club. Wadas, who ran track and cross country for Misericordia University, is the track and cross country head coach at Wilkes University.
Wadas’ assistant at Wilkes, Jill Matthews-Lada won the female division in wire-to-wire fashion in 20:38. The 33-year-old from Wilkes-Barre outdistanced second-place finisher, Sherri Yelen, 41, of Kingston, by 1:02. Jill Hildebrand, 50, from Wapwallopen, finished third in 23:43.
“I knew (Yelen) was a good runner. And I knew she was right on my tail,” said Matthews-Lada. “So I knew I couldn’t let up. So I kept pounding. At the turnaround, I could see I had built up a comfortable lead (nearly 200 meters). I felt pretty good about that. Then I just kept up my pace to the finish.”
NOTES: Last year’s winner, Chris Wadas (Nick’s twin brother), didn’t race yesterday. He’s training for the Lehigh Valley Half Marathon, set for Sunday.
Yelen also scored a second-place finish on Saturday in the Harveys Lake 8.1 miler. It’s likely she’ll be going shopping for a pair of red socks soon. She will be running in the Broad Street 10 miler in Philadelphia on May 5. And race officials of the Philly race are asking all runners to wear red socks in recognition of the Boston Marathon bombing.
Max fine 5k results
Top 3 males
1. Jeff Skwierz, 30, Forty Fort, 16:51
2. Kyle Suponcic, 22, Shavertown, 16:54
3. Nick Wadas, 31, Kingston, 16:58
Male award winners: Overall: Skwierz. Age group winners: 14 & under: Jake Shemo, Luzerne, 21:36. 15-19: Brent Wilbur, na, 22:32. 20-24: Eric Danko, na, 18:11. 25-29: J. Scarlet, na, 22:00. 30-34: William Wolfe, Jenkins Twp., 20:46.35-39: Brian Barker, Mountain Top, 27:28. Masters division: 40-49: George Dunbar, Old Forge, 21:04. 50-59: Bob Bilbow, W. Wyoming, 24:09. 60-69: Charles Burns, Wyoming, 33:15. 70 & over: Mike Fay, Hazleton.
Top 3 females
1. Jill Matthews-Lada, 33, Wilkes-Barre, 20:38
2. Sherri Yelen, 41, Kingston, 21:40
3. Jill Hildebrand, 50, Wapwallopen, 23:43
Female award winners: Overall:Matthews-Lada. Age group winners: 14 & under: Amber Hughes, na, 35:26. 15-19: Alyson Manley, Larksville, 24:22. 20-24: Jillian Gannon, Manayunk, 24:22. 25-29: Julia Rosenbloom, Conshohocken, 28:07. 30-34: Jamie Barker, Mountain Top, 23:51. 35-39: Heather Proctor, na, Masters division: 40-49: Peggy Manley, na, 27:40. 50-59: Faina Libman, Kingston, 32:50. 60-69: Sheila Burns, Wyoming, 33:14. 70 & over: None.
Field: 71 (run); 52 (walk).
Official starter: Mike Fine (race director). Timing and results: Fast Finishers.
Saturday, April 27: Luzerne County Community College Race for a Cause 5K Run at LCCC, Nanticoke at 9 a.m. Info: 740-0237.
Sunday, May 5: Wyoming Valley Striders 39th annual Cherry Blossom 5 Mile Foot Race and 1 Mile Walk “Tim Thomas Memorial” at Kirby Park at 10 a.m. Info: Vince Wojnar, 474-5363.