Westside tough guys with soft hearts

Quest for championships continues one more day
June 2, 2023

Life lessons - I have watched Austen Cave run since he was a freshman at Delmar High School, mostly at the bigger meets, but then he started to run in Seashore Striders races. He’s always been talented, more introverted than outgoing. I saw him win the Jungle Jim’s 5K a few years ago, then go get a young kid who was wobbling and struggling, and help him across the finish line. Martin Rodriguez told me about Austen battling a cancer diagnosis. When Austen crossed the finish line second at the Masser Five-Miler on Sunday, I later asked Martin, “Who was that young blond guy? He was tough.” “That’s Austen Cave; he dyed his hair blond. Guess you didn’t recognize him.” I messaged Austen to get a firsthand account of his story. Here is his response: “Hey, Fredman. No, I haven’t graduated yet. I took a leave last year when I was diagnosed, but I am enrolled in Salisbury with intentions to graduate in the spring alongside my brother. I was diagnosed in September with stage 2b Hodgkin lymphoma when they found a softball-sized tumor in my chest in front of my heart. I went through five rounds of chemo, each about a month long, at Johns Hopkins and then a month straight of radiation treatment, which I finished about six weeks ago. I have a PET scan on June 7, which doctors hope will be clear so hopefully I will be in remission following the results of that scan. It has been a struggle some days, but seeing others in similar positions in the hospital showed me how lucky I am still to be able to run and not let the diagnosis stop me from doing what I love.” He added, “I saw the race pictures on Facebook as well. They looked great. Thank you for those. It was good to see so many familiar faces this weekend.” 

Early Morning Rain - “But I must be on my way in the early morning rain,” - Gordon Lightfoot. The Sunday of Memorial Day weekend was the 30th running of the Masser Five-Miler. I remember six years earlier, 9-year-old Bennett Brumbley escorted Doc Masser to the finish line of a rainy race. I had the photo cutline just needed to describe it, “Bennett Brumbley always goes back out on the race course to escort Doc Masser to the finish. The fact it was raining Delmar Wildcats and Laurel Bulldogs did not deter 9-year-old Bennett.” He is westside Sussex old school, where if you got a friend you just can never shake them. Bennett is now 15 and has gotten tall. When I saw him Sunday I simply asked, “What’s with the haircut?” He laughed. Late in the race, Bennett went out to escort 84-year-old Jack Noel to the finish. Jack is a jokester. He simply asked, “Is it still Sunday?”   

Got a dog - John Costello, 62, won his age group at the Masser Five-Miler in 32:27. Before the race, he told me that his dog has won the Hair of the Dog New Year’s Day race in Bethany about five times. “Each time, the dog and I were presented with a stuffed dog and a medal around his neck,” John said before his race. “I told my wife, ‘I’m giving one of these dogs to Fredman,’ and she said, ‘That’s fine, but the medal stays here.’” John joked to me, "The dog doesn’t know it won a medal,“ but I said, “I’m with your wife on this, and anyway, I’d rather have the dog and the story that goes with it.”

Snippets - The Eastern Shore Lacrosse Club has six rostered teams organized by year of high school graduation including 2024, 2025, 2027, 2028, 2029 and 2030/31. Tournaments begin this weekend. The local Beach Blast will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, on the Cape Henlopen High School campus. The ESLC website is Caravel softball will be in the state championship final Saturday at the University of Delaware awaiting the winner of the Indian River at Delmarva Christian game. Caravel is coached by Randy Johnson, a Cape kid from the class of 1977 who in his senior year earned six varsity letters and won individual state titles in two different sports three days apart. He won the indoor pole vault on a Thursday night and the 138-pound state wrestling title on a Saturday night. Lewes locals will always root for Randy. Go on now, git! 

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