Upcoming UI freshman leads from start to finish in 5K race

Upcoming UI freshman leads from start to finish in 5K race

Andrew Walmer found himself in an unusual position in Saturday's 5K race, which was part of the 22nd Mahomet Half-Marathon event.

He was up front — which is similar to where he ran for the state championship M-S cross-country team last fall — but the upcoming University of Illinois freshman didn't have a good idea of what to expect from those around him in the race.

"I'm so used to knowing who I'm running against," Walmer said. "It's nice to have past results so you can see what usually happens."

As he strode to the starting line, Walmer came to a realization.

"I didn't recognize anyone," he said.

His strategy was to be the aggressor.

"I decided to take the lead from the beginning and run my own race," he said.

No one could keep up with Walmer. His winning time was 16 minutes, 24.6 seconds.

The result was far better than the last time he competed in a race in the Mahomet Half-Marathon.

"Before my eighth-grade season was the last time I ran it," he said. "I went out way too fast, like all junior high kids."

That year, he didn't finish among the top 10, but he made up for that in his post-graduate race.

While at the UI, Walmer plans to major in chemical engineering and run on the club team.

Walmer prevailed by more than 51 seconds over runner-up Eric Crutchfield, from Wilmington.

"He was flying," said Crutchfield, whose day job is as an electrician. "A mile in, I thought he was slowing down, but he wasn't.

"He was done when I got on the track (for the final 300 meters). Talk about disheartening."

Surpassing her goals

Former Bulldog Tessa Hanlon has run races from short ones to the Boston Marathon.

Last weekend, Hanlon returned to a distance she had only run once previously.

"I don't run a lot of 10Ks," she said. "This was my second one ever."

Hanlon placed ahead of all but two competitors — men and women — and bettered her goal time by nearly 40 seconds, clocking a 39-minute, 20.8-second time.

Because the half-marathon and the 10K races were started simultaneously, she had difficulty judging her competition.

"I wasn't sure who was in the half and who was in the 10K," Hanlon said. "We just took off from the beginning."

She tried to keep pace with Julie Crutchfield, from Wilmington, but was unsuccessful.

"She got ahead the last half (of the race) and kept me in no man's land," Hanlon said.

Crutchfield's time was 39:01.5. Only men's winner Luke Brewer, from Ivesdale (37:21.1) had a better time.

Hanlon is in training for next year's Boston Marathon, which will be her fifth race at the 26.2-mile distance.

Meanwhile, the May University of Illinois graduate will stay involved with running. She made her debut as a high school head coach on Wednesday when practice started at St. Thomas More.

"On the girls' side, we have everyone back," Hanlon said. "On the boys' side, we graduated one senior."

Crutchfield credited Hanlon for helping her start strong.

"We ran stride-for-stride for 4 miles," said Crutchfield, an elementary school PE teacher in Joliet, "and traded off (positions) for a while."

Knocking off some rust

Michael Clevenger woke up Saturday morning, "about 5 a.m.," he said, and decided it would be a good day to run a race.

"I drove in from Decatur and signed up at the start," the former Notre Dame and Georgetown University runner said. Three days ago, I got home from college."

He was prepared for what was to follow in the 22nd Mahomet Half-Marathon.

The 23-year-old Clevenger ran a 5.26-mile pace for the 13.1-mile half-marathon course, beating runner-up Arturs Barei-kis by almost 2 minutes.

He couldn't have asked for more from a race where he took over the lead in the final 10 kilometers.

"It was perfect weather, people were cheering me on and I knocked some rust off," Clevenger said. "I'm gearing up for a few races in the fall."

Bareikis, 31, wasn't disappointed at the outcome.

"This is a prep race," he said.

Bareikis is scheduled to run a marathon in South Korea in September.

"I ran a good workout while preparing for the main race," said Bareikis, who finished in 1:13.21.7.

"I enjoyed this course and there were some supporters, which I didn't expect."

Tuscola grad finishes first

The women's half-marathon champion was former Tuscola and Illinois State University athlete Rachael Brewer.

Her time was 1:20.18.8. Brewer placed 10th overall.

"My first time here," said Brewer, a Champaign resident. "I want to get to know more of the local running community.

"I came here to meet some people."

She received a push throughout the first 7 miles.

"My friend (Trish Frisella, from St. Louis) was doing a workout and she helped me," said Brewer, who works in the Regional Office of Education.

Frisella, who is relocating soon to Savoy, was the second female finisher, ending 12th overall in 1:22.29.4.

Organizers had a goal of raising $30,000 to benefit the Mahomet Area Youth Club, but final totals have not yet been released.

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