The Wayne County 5K Challenge is off to another scintillating start

Jacob Ross and his family have made the Perkins Run an annual pilgrimage for the better part of a decade now.

Each July, they pack up the car and make the trek from Clarks Summit to the Wayne County Fairgrounds intent on two things: having a good time and running a competitive race.

“I love coming here every summer,” Jacob told TWI Sports. “This is the best 5K we do. The people are great and the race is awesome.”

Ross apparently isn't the only one who thinks that way. After all, more than 225 runners turned out Saturday morning to participate in the event, which is named in honor of the late Dr. William Perkins

“We had another perfect day for the race,” organizer Tammy Jensen said. “We had to modify the course a little bit this year because of construction, but we still had very positive feedback from all the runners.”

This marked the 29th year for the event. It is also the third led of the 2014 Wayne County 5K Challenge.

Next on the agenda is the Habitat for Humanity Race, set for Saturday, August 23 at the Honesdale High School Athletic Complex.

Two-Man Race

Jacob Ross is headed into his senior year at Abington Heights. He's a standout member of both the cross country and track teams.

As a junior, he battled his way to runner-up status at the District Two cross country championships and advanced to states.

There, he carved out a spot in the Top 125 ... a number he hopes to improve upon in 2014.

“My main goals are to win districts as an individual and to help my team win overall in Class AAA,” Jacob said. “We're going to have a very strong team, so I definitely think we can do it.”

The Perkins Run marks Ross' final tune-up before training with his fellow Comets begins in earnest.

Coming into this event, Jacob had already run 5K races in Montrose, Clarks Summit and Lake Winola.

On Saturday morning, Ross decided to cut loose and see where he is on that long road to Hershey (and eventually to Notre Dame, where he hopes to make the cross country team and study creative writing).

“I went out hard and ran with Caleb (Jensen),” Ross said. “He's a really good runner, so I figured I'd just stay with him until it was time to make my move.”

That time came at about the 2.5 mile mark. This year's Perkins course had to be shortened from the usual 3.1 miles due to ongoing roadwork. So, Ross' move came later than normal.

Still, his strategy proved to be sound. Jacob pulled away from Jensen and never looked back en route to an impressive win.

Ross stopped the clock at 15:26.92, good for a 10 second margin of victory. Jensen crossed the line in a time of 15:36.38.

Rounding out the men's top five were Zachery Nekich of Dingman's Ferry (16:49.75), Honesdale's Jason Theobald (17:10.74) and Ben Sverduk of Lake Ariel (17:11.77).

Still on Track

Tiffany Leventhal of Honesdale continued her red-hot streak with another stellar performance at the Perkins Race.

The former Lady Hornet star and current coach opened her summer season with an impressive win at the Roy Thorpe Memorial in Waymart.

Leventhal also posted a victory in at the BK Hope Cures and remains on track for the women's Wayne County 5K Challenge title.

On Saturday, Tiffany covered the modified course in a time of 17:26.92. She finished just a split second ahead of Greentown's Amanda Pope (17:27.03).

Western Wayne alumna Cindy Batzel battled her way to a third place finish, crossing the line in 19:11.

Jennifer Korty, fresh off her victory at the inaugural Penny House 5K, ended up fourth at 19:14.41.

Maureen 'Mo' Ordnung rounded out the women's front five. The former HHS and East Stroudsburg University field hockey star clocked in at 20:01.70.

Looking Ahead

Next year's edition of the Perkins Race is scheduled for Saturday July 11.

Still remaining on the 2014 slate locally are:

•Habitat for Humanity (August 23)

•Wayne County YMCA (Sept. 20)

•Hawley Public Library (Oct. 4).