Striders head to national championship in Indiana

November 18, 2016

The local Seashore Striders left for Evansville, Ind., Nov. 17, by way of car and plane, as they will compete in the 10th annual Cross Country Coaches National Championships Saturday, Nov. 19. More than 2,000 of the best age-group cross country runners in the country will converge on Evansville and will race distances of 2K, 3K, 4K and 5K at the Angel Mounds cross country course. Angel Mounds was the site of the 2014, 2015 and 2016 NCAA Division II Midwest Regionals, and it will be host to the 2017 NCAA Division II National Championships.

Shields student Allaire Burton will get things going in the girls’ 6-8 division, running the 2K or 1.24 miles, while first-year running brothers Matthew and Chris Friscia will also race the 2K in the boys’ 6-8 division. In the girls’ 9-10 division, Faith Mitchell of Milford will represent the Striders, while in the boys’ 9-10 it will be Stephen Hart and Brayden Trout. Returning runners Mia Nuebling, Devin Hundley and Katie Kuhlman will race the 3K (1.86-mile) race in the girls’ 11-12, while Luke Burton, Aiden Bowman, first-year runner Justin Friscia and Raphael Perez-Rivera will race in the boys’ Midget 11-12 division. In the girls’ 13-14 division, Helena Helou, all-conference runner at Sussex Academy, will lead the 13-14 division with teammates Brooke Jones, Emma Barthelmess and Emily Trout. First-year runners Austin Cave out of Delmar and Greg Boyce out of Cape will race the 5K distance in the 15-16 age group, while Ben Bamforth, Jay Hinds and Connor Morrow, all from Sussex Tech, will race the 17-18 division 5K distance along with Albert Norman of Sussex Central.

Individual All-American plaques will be awarded to each of the top 25 finishers in a special awards presentation at the awards stand following each race. Team trophies and medals will be awarded to the top three teams in each race. Teams consist of at least five athletes and no more than eight athletes.

The Seashore Striders made their first nationals trip back in 1990 with Sussex Central runner Sallie Beth Johnson and Cape runner Suzannah Martin as they competed in Portland, Ore. The following year, the Striders traveled to Mobile, Ala., with Johnson and 9-year-olds Johnny Mancuso and Jodi Moore. Twenty-six years later, next Tuesday, Johnson will be inducted into the Delaware Track & Field Hall of Fame in Wilmington. The Striders have had two individual national champions: Ben Bamforth won the 8-year-old division in Virginia Beach in 2007, and Luke Burton won the 9-year-old division in Nashville in 2014. The highest team place for the Striders was a third-place finish in the mid-’90s, with the 9-10 team of Chelsea Palmer, Laura Olenderski, Bethany Pavlik, Sarah Neff, Brennen Killeen and Helena Melendez.

Good luck to the Seashore Striders at the nationals.

Cross country states

The Delaware State Cross Country Championships were held Nov. 12, as Sussex Tech finished fourth overall behind powerhouse teams Sallies, Charter and Appoquinimink. Caesar Rodney was fifth overall.

Ben Bamforth mixed himself in the top 10 runners early in the race and moved to third going up the tough maintenance hill. Bamforth moved into the lead just before two miles and held the lead until the 2.5-mile mark, when a pack of three, with eventual winner Vail Freed of Appoquinimink, caught him and raced toward the finish. Bamforth held onto a solid fourth place to hit the line in a personal best of 17:05 for the Brandywine course. Other Henlopen Conference runners in the top 10 include Tosin Ibironke of Smyrna in 17:14 and Johnathan Epstein of CR in 17:18. Local Greg Boyce from Cape was 13th in 17:38. On the girls’ side, it was freshman Helena Helou of Sussex Academy finishing ninth in 21:01 in the Division II race, while Olivia Brozefsky of Cape finished 10th in 21:05 in the Division I race. Both Helou and Brozefsky should be a solid third-team all-state selection, but I said “should be” because I am not choosing.

The Sussex Academy girls finished 14th in the girls’ team DII standings, while the Sussex Tech girls were ninth and the Cape girls were 14th among DI teams.

Cape Henlopen boys finished 14th and Sussex Central 15th in DI boys’ team action, while Sussex Academy was 24th in DII action.

The all-state selection meeting was held Thursday, Nov. 17 (after deadline), with the banquet to be held in Wilmington Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Girls on the Run

The Shields Elementary Girls on the Run team recently completed their 5K run this year at Killens Pond State Park in Felton. Several hundred girls took part in the 5K cross country run and had some fun doing it with lots of costumes, tutus and face paint showing their spirit.

The program believes that every girl can embrace who she is, can define who she wants to be, can rise to any challenge, and can change the world. 

The mission of the program is: “We inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running.”

The program’s vision reads: “We envision a world where every girl knows and activates her limitless potential and is free to boldly pursue her dreams.”

Good program and good stuff. Congratulations to the girls from Shields and all the other local elementary schools that took part in the event.

Upcoming races

There are three Thanksgiving races in the area to get registered for that should not be missed. On Thursday, Nov. 24, start your Turkey Day off with the third annual Gabby Gobble 5K at Irish Eyes in Lewes at 9:30 a.m. Visit to register. On Saturday, Nov. 26, work off your turkey dinner with the seventh annual Pumpkin Pie 5K at Grove Park in Rehoboth Beach at 9 a.m. Visit to register. On Sunday, Nov. 27, work off your turkey day leftovers with the 14th annual Sea Colony Turkey Trot 5K at the Freeman Fitness Center in Bethany at 9 a.m. Visit to register. All three events attract large numbers, and T-shirts are only guaranteed to preregistered runners, so register now. Gobble Gobble!