Shawn Roberts, who red-shirted this year at Georgia Tech so that he could have another year of eligibility, easily won the Bonac on Board to Wellness 5K from the Reutershan Parking Lot to East Hampton Village’s Main Beach on May 22 in 16 minutes and 45 seconds.
“He was coasting,” said John Conner, when told that Roberts’s employer, Barbara Gubbins, had said he was “a 1:48 half-miler.”
“If he had been going all out, I think he would have run it in 15-something, or less,” said Conner, who added that he had run as fast as the winner when he was 50.
Roberts will be one of four elite college runners comprising Gubbins Running Ahead’s team this summer.
“We’ll run in a lot of races,” said Geary Gubbins, who was himself a top competitor at Duke not long ago and is now working at his parents’ New Balance store here.
Roberts’s performance aside, three in the top five — Doug Milano (17:41), Jason Hancock (17:50), and Chris Reich (18:29) — were teachers. And, even more noteworthy, the seventh and eighth-place finishers, Emilio Espinoza and Omar Leon Saldana, were East Hampton Middle School seventh graders.
Their times — 19:06 in Espinoza’s case and 19:10 in Saldana’s — caught the attention of Reich, who coaches East Hampton High’s cross-country and boys track teams. “I ran in the 19s when I was a freshman,” recalled Reich, who also was impressed by the 19:30 another seventh grader, Eamon Spencer, ran. The top eighth grader that day was Andrew Wilson of the Springs School, who placed 13th over all, in 19:45, despite having been felled in the early going by a fellow runner.
Reich said that Roberts and Milano, who has boxed in the Golden Gloves, went out at “a crazy pace. They ran the first mile in 5:05!” Roberts was said to have surged ahead of Milano, who was to finish about a minute behind him, at the two-mile mark.
Barbara Gubbins (19:58) was the women’s winner — and 15th over all among the horde of competitors, a field that listed 658 finishers. Alyssa Bahel, who runs the 3,200 for East Hampton High’s girls track team, was the second female, in 20:45.
Bahel’s teammate — and the team’s top distance runner — Dana Cebulski, who was said to be recovering from mononucleosis, was resting up for the state qualifier, Dana’s mother said. Another absentee was Dana’s older brother, Adam, the boys team’s top distance runner, whose energies were devoted to the divisional championships last week.
Rounding out the top 10 were Mike Bahel, who was sixth in 18:37, Luis Morales, Reich’s assistant, who was ninth in 19:16, and Eric Perez, who was 10th in 19:19.
The top five females comprised Gubbins, Alyssa Bahel, Devon Brown (21:10), a teammate of Bahel’s, Sharon McCobb (21:17), the president of the Old Montauk Athletic Club, a supporter of the race, and East Hampton Middle School seventh grader Liana Paradiso (21:20), who is to compete for the United States next week in the Student Youth Games in Rome. Chasen Dubs (23:52), an East Hampton Middle School sixth grader, is also on the team, as is Eddie Arnold, whose father, Ed, coaches cross-country and track at Southampton High School.
In Rome, the American kids, all of whom can claim at least one great-grandparent who was an Italian citizen, are to go up against their peers from Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, Venezuela, and the host country.
“There are some really talented kids in all the schools — in Springs, Montauk, Amagansett, and East Hampton,” said Hancock, who teaches sixth grade at Amagansett. “We [he and Mike Rodgers] brought 12 sixth graders with us today who’ll be going to the middle school in the fall. This gives them a chance to meet their future schoolmates, which is good. Plus it’s fun.”
The middle school, as it often does, won the schools’ competition, with Montauk’s seventh and eighth graders placing second, and Springs’ third.
Lea Bryant, the middle school’s health teacher, who, with Barbara Tracey, the school’s nurse, oversees the Bonac on Board to Wellness program, said, when questioned, “It’s such a spectacular day on so many levels. It’s a wonderful time of year, all the kids get to do the same thing, and they’re all striving to do their best.”
“We work with our students all year on nutrition and fitness, and encourage them to make healthy choices . . . to feel high naturally.”
“They practice for this,” she added, when told that it seemed most of the participants appeared to be in good long-distance shape. “They practice in phys ed class. They all run a mile in the fall and in the spring, and set goals for the 5K. They’ve been pretty excited by their times today, as they should be.”