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Trio of teenagers top field in Saturday race

Young runners dominated Saturday’s inaugural Young Life 5K at Tuck Dillard Stadium, with a trio of teenagers topping the field. Fifteen-year-old Aaron Slabach of Alton topped the field, touring the 5K course that started at the stadium and traversed the Halifax County Middle School and Halifax County High School campuses in 18 minutes and 26 seconds.

The Halifax County High School student edged Halifax County High School cross country team runner Andrew Liegey by 29 seconds, with Comets cross country team runner Vatsal Lal finishing third, 19 seconds behind Liegey.

“I just came out and kind of winged it,” said Slabach, who competed in a half-marathon in Danville a week ago.

“It was a good race and a pretty flat course. It was cold, but I got warmed up at about a mile and a half.”

Liegey and Lal, both of whom have been used to running the high school cross country course at Edmunds Park, said the course for the 5K was much easier than the course at Edmunds Park.

“It didn’t even compare with Edmunds Park,” Liegey noted.

“This was like a jog in the park,” added Lal.

Forty-three-year-old Mark Joyce of Bassett finished fourth in a time of 19:28, a mark that was just over a minute off of the winning time posted by Slabach, with 33-year-old Shawn Nocilla of Roxboro, N.C. finishing fifth in a time of 19:41.

Melissa Elmes of South Boston won the women’s event with a time of 24:25. Kristen Wyatt of Farmville (25:52), Daniele Reavis of Martinsville (26:33), Kathryn Roberts of South Boston (27:04) and Patty Nelson of South Boston (27:35) followed in order.

Don Wilkerson of Halifax was the overall winner among the participants who chose to walk the 5K circuit.

Young Life 5K Race Director Sophia Decker said she and the event’s organizers were pleased to have 49 participants in their first-ever event.

“That’s a really good turnout for a first-time race,” Decker said.

“Participants came from a variety of places including Harrisonburg, Richmond, Colonial Heights, Martinsville, Bassett, Collinsville, Danville, Farmville, Brookneal, Clarksville, Stuart, and Nelson, as well as Raleigh, N.C. Roxboro, N.C. and Asheboro, N.C.

“Everyone seemed to enjoy the course,” added Decker, “and the weather was excellent.”

Race participants ranged in age from six-years-old to 72-years-old.