KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - With a surge in American pride and national freedom, the Keystone Heights Freedom 5K took a small step; actually, a lot of small steps in having nearly 200 athletes run the …
KEYSTONE HEIGHTS - With a surge in American pride and national freedom, the Keystone Heights Freedom 5K took a small step; actually, a lot of small steps in having nearly 200 athletes run the traditional 3.1 mile trek around the small, southern Clay County town on Sat., July 3.
“It’s a return to normalcy, I think,” said race announcer Brandon Ludwig, who kept racers apprised of their efforts with each name announced at the finish line of the runners. “We may be one of the only communities to have the 5K, our parade, the volleyball festival and just a good American town back in order.’
For the race, South Carolina runner Cohen MacDonald, 16, took top honores with a 16 minute, 58.2 second winning effort just ahead of Gainesville’s Julian Bautista, 17, in second at 17:27.16 and Keystone Heights High cross country ace Tyler Griffin, 15, who took third in 18:16.68.
With the race benefiting the Jordan Cooper Memorial Scholarship Fund, Ryan Collins, 26, strode home in fourth place amidst an emotional welcome from the Cooper family at the finish line. Cooper ran 18:29.24.
Also getting a top time was Wyatt Van Zant, 15, a Keystone Heights High School weightlifting team medlaist, who finished 14th in 21:52.54. Brother Luke Van Zant, 18, was 20th in 22:50.34. Former School Board Superintendent Charlie Van Zant, dad, was not in the race, but cheered his boys on.
In the female race, Gainesville’s Maggie McCloskey, 28, won in 21:10.13 with a sprint finish from eight year old, yes, eight years old, Riley Thomas, of Keystone Heights, who was second female in 22:30.63. Third was Ocala’s Linda Ramsey, 44, in 22:56.02.
Carrying the American flag in the rear of the enthusiastic crowd was father/daught Bobby Ludwig and Ashton Ludwig. Ashton Ludwig is a graduated multisport athlete for Keystone Heights High School.