SEBRING — More than 235 people came out to celebrate the Fourth of July a little early Friday morning to participate in the 20th annual Firecracker 5K at Highlands Hammock State Park.
The event has become one of the most popular 5K races in the Heartland and many of the runners wore colorful combinations to celebrate the birth of our great nation.
“It’s great to have so many people come out to compete in the Firecracker 5K to celebrate the Fourth of July,” said race director Chet Brojek. “We’re so blessed to live in the greatest country in the world and whether we agree or disagree, we’re all still Americans.”
The money from the 5K goes to the Avon Park High School boys and girls cross country programs.
“I started the cross country program at Avon Park in 1971 to supplement our track program,” Brojek said. “Cross country is near and dear to my heart and I’m going to continue this race as long as possible to support the Red Devils cross country program.”
The overall male winner was Sebring High standout Eric Foster with a time of 17:13.4, celebrated triathlon competitor Patrick High was the Master’s winner in a time of 17:19.8 and Anthony DeRogatis was the Grand Master’s winner in 23:42.3.
The overall female winner was 9-year-old Zoe Wortinger with a personal-best time of 21:06.3.
“I like running because you can go to different places and not run in the same places over and over again,” said Wortinger, who has been running for two years and is a member of the Champions Elite track program.
Laura Griffin was first in the women’s Master’s division with a time of 24:14.9 and Bonnie Theall was the Grand Master’s winner in 31:02.1.
Hailey Bryant won the girls 9-under age group in 30:58.6, Angelina Nualart placed second in 42:09.6, Carlie Cornelius was third with a 42:41.6, Lindsey True came in at 45:24.4 and Emma Mellow was fifth at 57:45.6.
In the girls 10-13 age group, Heaven Leigh Egan was first in 28:19.1, Abigail Penfield was second at 30:50.8, Ashlee Patterson had a 31:07.3 and Hannah Fowler came in fourth with a 33:01.8.
Maria Munoz won the girls 14-19 division with a 22:52.9, Katlyn Cooper placed second in 24:02.1, Allie Mann had a 24:46.8 and Lea Balnelli was fourth in 26:19.1.
Whitney Lee won the female 20-24 division with a 24:11.4, Kayla Griffin placed second with a 25:33.0, Kassie Canevari was third in 27:03.9 and Katiana Ortiz finished fourth in 30:26.6.
Amber Callahan was tops in the female 25-29 age group with a 28:41.9, Allison Hinkle placed second with a 30:20.4, Stacy Heap had a 30:29.1 and Stephanie Gonzalez was fourth with a 44:46.8.
Sebring track coach Krista Schult won the female 30-34 age group in 24:09.6, Brandi Albritton placed second in 25:30.5, Lena Kimball was third at 27:23.8 and Jennifer Bryant came in fourth in 28:22.4.
In the boys 9-under division, Chase Bryant was first in 26:37.0, J.J. Wortinger was second at 27:23.4, Cameron White had a 31:37.4 and Austin Ulm was fourth with a 36:20.6.
Jack Fowler was first in the male 10-13 age group with a 29:35.5, Christian Angeletti came in second place with a 40:12.1 and Wesley Pinson finished third with a 42:43.6.
Sebring cross country standout Damian Foster won the male 14-19 age group with a time of 18:17.2, Chandler Gowan was second in 19:41.2, Andrew Rivera had a 20:32.9 and Logan Ashley came in fourth with a 20:43.6.
Arturo Garcia was first in the male 25-29 division in 23:53.8, John Hallas placed second at 24:26.1, Harold Campbell was third in 24:56.6 and Ryan Danzey had a 35:28.7.
Matt Kimball was first in the male 30-34 group with a 24:00.5, Aaron Lundquist was second at 24:16.1, Terry Owens came in at 25:12.4 and Daniel Hudon was fourth with a 25:37.8.
David Stephens won the male 35-39 group with a 19:56.0, Shane White was second in 24:44.3, Jacob MCcLelland was third at 25:01.6 and Jason True finished fourth at 25:56.2.
Jim Alred was first in the male 40-44 division with a 22:26.1, Brian Pinson placed second at 32:07.6, William Chen had a 34:38.5 and Dwayne Ricker had a 38:58.5.
Ronald Sevigny won the male 65-69 age group in 42:44.8, Jim Kelly was first in the male 70-74 group at 46:44.2, Harold Smith won the male 75-79 age group in 30:01.4 and Ken Filppula was first in the male 80 and over age group in 46:55.8.
In the female 40-44 age group, Alessa White was first in 25:46.4, Vicki Musselman placed second at 26:46.9, Trudy Benton came in a close third with a 26:47.2 and Edsel Kromholtz had a 32:44.1.
In the female 45-49 group, Cherie Starr was first at 25:47.8, Mary Ann Andrews was second with a 30:00.7, Michele Bednosky had a 32:45.0 and Tracy Bamford was fourth at 33:22.1.
Peggy Essex-Klammer was first in the female 60-64 group with a 31:45.5, Mary Rucker won the female 65-69 division with a 37:55.7, Nancy Miesse was first in the female 70-74 group with a time of 34:58.6 and Audrey Smith won the female 75-79 division with a 43:04.9.