The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Sports

July 5, 2014

Firecracker 5K lights a fuse for runners

Gears, Kreider prevail as race draws record field of 214 competitors

ASHTABULA — Seven months was a long time to wait for Pymatuning Valley High School graduate Jonathan Gears to get back on the roads and run a race.

“I had a bad bout of IT Band Syndrome. I haven’t raced since November,” Gears said before besting the field 214 at the largest Ashtabula YMCA Firecracker 5K ever, organizers said.

Gears ran his final race for the College of the Cumberlands last November and decided to transfer to another school. He had been an All-American track performer at the National Intercollegiate Athletic Association school in 2013.

 After obtaining his release from the College of the Cumberlands, he was checking into Edinboro University and Western Colorado when legendary power Adams State became a possibility.

“If you are a runner and you see Alamosa (on your cell phone identification), you get excited,” he said. “It was wild.”

Gears made a quick decision and changed his college choice from Western Colorado, got a new bus ticket and was off to the mountains.

Gears said the possibility of running under legendary coach Damon Martin was too much to pass up at the perennial NCAA Division II powerhouse.

Instead of training hard and getting the coach’s attention, Gears had to pull back and get well. “When I got to Alamosa, I had to concentration getting healthy,” Gears said.

Gears said he spent a lot of time at the Ashtabula County YMCA swimming during winter break. He has to sit out a full calendar year after transferring, but will be able to run track in the spring of 2015.

Gears said he has one year of cross country and three years of track eligibility remaining.

“It felt good to just but a singlet on,” he said.

“It felt like a race but I tried to hold back and see how I felt,” Gears said of his winning performance that bested Travis Isenberg, an Edgewood High School graduate.

Kim Kreider, a teacher for the Ashtabula Area City Schools and Boston Marathon finisher, won the women’s race, besting 2007 Lakeside High School graduate Kailey Johnson.

Kreider said she likes marathons more than shorter races but enjoyed the experience.

“I like this course... the volunteers were fantastic!” she said.

Johnson has recently got back into competitive running and hopes to run a half-marathon and a marathon in the future.

“It is so exciting to get back into it,” she said.

Ashtabula County YMCA Chief Executive Officer Trevor Sprague thanked the runners for participating in the event that helps provide funds to help people enjoy YMCA programs they may not be able to afford.

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