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First-time winners run to victory in YMCA 5K

The annual South Boston-Halifax County YMCA continues to turn out first-time winners, and that was again the case Saturday.

Emma Worsley, a Halifax County High School student- athlete, was the overall female winner in her first-ever competitive race, in a time of 25:22.

Jeffrey Jackson of Roxboro, a competitive runner since 2004 and a familiar face at several previous YMCA 5Ks, was the overall male winner.

Approximately 75 runners of all ages turned out for a race run in cool and cloudy conditions, with Worsley and Jackson winning in roughly similar fashions.

Worsley admitted she had never run a 5K or competitive race for that matter before Saturday, and she added she has never run except for conditioning for soccer.

“I’ve been coming in (YMCA) and working out a little, but that’s about it,” she explained.

“This feels good and I’m proud of myself.  I didn’t think I’d do so well,” she added.

The 5K course, complete with hills at the start, middle and finish was demanding, Worsley noted.

“It was kind of hard, with big hills,” she said.

“I had to push through it.  Probably the end was the hardest part, because I wasn’t sure where I was going so I was trying to keep up with some other people.

“At the end, I just took off and passed a couple of people.”

Worsley considers herself a “chaser,” someone who runs at a steady pace before pushing at the end.

“I like to have a nice start, stick with it and then at the end give it my all,” Worsley said.

“My dad ran, so he gave me some pointers.”

Joel Worsley, Emma’s father, was second in his age group at Saturday’s race.

Jackson said he has been a competitive runner for about five years.

A graduate of Person High School, Jackson did not compete in track or cross country while in high school, but he had a good mentor, training with multiple YMCA 5K winner Dale Ball.

“I was sort of his apprentice,” said Jackson, admitting his win involved a lot of hard training and hard running. 

“I just stuck with it today and I won,” he noted.

Like Worsley, Jackson is not a front-runner but someone who likes to hang back and tries later to chase down the leader.

Ironically, that strategy almost cost him the race on Saturday.
He took the lead in the last mile on a hilly and curvy portion of the course that can be confusing to first-timers as well as YMCA 5K veterans such as himself.

“The guy in front ran the wrong way and I followed him a bit, then I saw the police car and turned back,” Jackson recalled.

“I had another guy that was following me and I said it’s right here, all or nothing and I gave it all I had.”

Jackson hopes to return and run more YMCA 5Ks.

“It’s kind of a tradition,” he said with a smile.

The annual children’s one-mile fun run Saturday produced two winners, Ryan Tingen for the boys and Mary McLaughlin for the girls.



Overall Male Winner: Jeffrey Jackson 20:59

Overall Female Winner: Emma Worsley 25.22


Top Three By Age Group

Male 19 and Under 

Andrew Liegey21:23

Gannon Griffin21:38

William Smith23:20


Male 20-24

Eric Nelson21:39

Jeff Good50:52


Male 25-29

Jeffrey Jackson20:59


Male 30-34

David Warren21:25

Dennis Balance29:37

Chris Kemp33:22


Male 35-39

Jimmy Epps33:30

Ram Neelagooie34:32


Male 40-44

Andy Coe31:11

Andy Rice44:37


Male 45-49

Vince Decker23:52Ray Ferguson25:09

Alan Bailey28:10


Male 50-54

Terry Ketchersid21:09

Jimmy Newcomb23:25Kerry Gavitt27:05


Male 55-59

David Hudson29:29

Joel Worsley30:54

Wayne Smith34:18


Male 60 and Over

Richard Stotler21:08

Tom Carr27:32

Richard Pulliam28:39


Female 19 and Under

Emma Worsley25:22

Baylee Snead29:58

Monica Puckett34:02


Female 20-24

Alyssa Gavitt27:12

Kaitlin Henderson28:12

Leah Yosich32:29


Female 25-29

Erin Snead30:49

Brittany Garrett33:38


Female 30-34

Molly Kemp33:30

Brandi Thompson36:27

Oivia Epps43:58


Female 35-39

Melissa Elmes26:07

Jenny Plitt29:05

Senecca Kirkland29:31


Female 40-44

Janice Hamlett32:13

Beth Tingen36:01

Donna Crowder44:17


Female 45-49

Sophie Decker26:57

Amy Powell27:42

Carlole Nelson34:33


Female 50-54

Patty Nelson28:21

Pam Nelson41:25

Brenda Pritchard47:56


Female 55-59

Nancy Worsley35:13

Deborah Reebals38:32

Gracie Elemary45:07


Female 60 and Over

Deborah Duffer34:23

Linda Pulliam43:56

Wendy Fuller46:40