Runners took to the streets Saturday morning in Avon Park to race in the fifth annual Panther 5k run/walk. The event, sponsored by the SFSC Foundation, Inc. and the Jarrett Family Foundation, serves as a fundraiser for Panther athletics.
This year's race raised nearly $5,000 for SFSC's volleyball, softball, and baseball teams.
Chandler Gowan was the event's overall winner, finishing the 5k with a sizzling time of 19 minutes, 10 seconds. Following him on the men's side was Masters Champion David Leidel at 24:31 and Grand Masters Champion Michael Stewart in 24:34.
In the women's bracket, Zoe Wortinger continued her dominance of Heartland races. The lightning-quick 9-year-old finished with in a stellar 22 minutes flat. Jennifer Glassburn followed Wortinger, capturing the Masters Champion class with a time of 24:08. Nina Roudebush was Grand Masters Champion in 29:16.
SFSC's Phi Beta Lamba won the school's Club Cup Championship. The coveted award goes to the group with the highest number of participants in the race.
Other impressive times on the men's side included Nicholas Lynch, who won the 6-8 age group in 32:44. Aiden Thomas was second at 33:22 and Austin Ulm was third at 37:19.
Gavin Cool had no problem in the 12-14 class, breezing into first in 20:00. Chase Doty was just behind him at 20:04 and Christian Picon rounded out the group at 21:00.
Nicholas Gregor edged Christian Suarez for first place in the 15-19 age group. Gregor finished in 20:38 to Suarez's 20:57. Clint Patrick was third in 25:49.
In the 20-24 class, Jermaine Nixon captured first place with a time of 22:03. Elvis Villalobos was second in 22:24 and Fabian Arreguin was third at 24:17.
Ron Smith won the 50-54 class in 25:54. Lamont Simpson was second in 26:20 and Ron Scali was just behind Simpson in third at 26:28.
In the 70-74 class, Jim Rector placed first in 26:35. Don Appelquist was second at 34:43 and Cliff Ables was third in 35:08.
Ken Filppula and Harvey Jones were the only over 80 runners participating in Saturday's 5k. Filppula finished first in the 80-plus age group with an impressive time of 45:22. Jones followed him at 1:00:39.
Other notable under-25 performances on the men's side came from Jeremy Freeze (21:04) in the 35-39 class, Eduardo Rosales (21:30) in the 25-29 age group, and youngster Keegan White, who won the 9-11 class in 23:19.
In the women's bracket, Savannah Oldfield scorched Briana Quinn in the 12-14 class. Oldfield finished in 25:51 to Quinn's 38:06. Kinsley White was the sole runner of the 6-8 age group, finishing in 24:23.
Melissa Acosta clipped Emily Jones for first place in the 25-29 class, finishing in 25:57 while Jones trotted in at 26:56. Julie Fells placed third in 37:22.
Sebring High School cross country coach Krista Schult won the 30-34 age group in 22:36. Trisha Johnson was behind Schult at 30:38 and Wendy Turner was third in 30:59.
Debbie Bailey cruised to first place in the 50-54 class, finishing in 24:11. April Roberts was behind her at 36:35 and Suzie Gentry was third at 41:00.
Lois Hotchkiss and Julianne Creed were the only two competitors in the women's 70-74 age group. Hotchkiss finished first in 33:05 while Creed was second at 46:49.
Other impressive times on the women's side included Laura Lovell (25:06) in the 20-24 class. Samantha DiGiacomo was second in 25:55 and Katiana Ortiz was third in 27:23. Theresa Juliano paced the 35-39 age group, finishing in 26:14. Diorelly Marquez was second at 27:25 and Carrie Cornelius was third in 27:38.