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Jesuit runner continues winning tradition at event

Connor Revord makes winning pass near finish. Jacki Wachtel dominates the women's field.

By DEREK LaRIVIERE
Published August 27, 2006


BROOKSVILLE - As the skies opened up, soaking the rest of Hernando County on Saturday morning, McKethan Lake Park, the site of the 25th annual Red Mule Labor Day 5K, was spared.

The cool, breezy conditions created perfect running weather for the largest field the event had ever hosted. For the second straight year, a Jesuit High runner took advantage to finish first.

Connor Revord passed Hernando standout Ben Martucci with about 50 yards remaining to break the tape.

Revord finished the run in 15:57, followed closely by twin brothers Ben (16:07) and Andrew Martucci (16:09). Hernando coach Ernie Chatman, who organizes the race with fellow Red Mule Runners Club member Chuck Boldt, was pleased with the experience.

"The competition was very exciting," said Chatman. "Ben had the lead for pretty much the entire race, but Connor is so good on those short sprints that once he passed Ben, we knew he had it."

Jesuit graduate James Osbourne won last year's race with a time of 15:33. Revord came in fifth (16:14) and Ben Martucci came in sixth (16:45).

As is becoming the trend for most local races, 27-year-old Jacki Wachtel won the women's group with a 17:51. Wachtel, the cross-country coach at Pasco-Hernando Community College, has dominated during the past year. So far in 2006, she counts the Run Through the Jungle 5K in Tampa and the Flatlanders 10K in Brooksville among her victories.

Wachtel finished second among women last year in 18:07.

The Red Mule serves as a cross-country season kickoff for many area prep programs. According to Chatman, 15 area schools were represented in the field, including all four Hernando County programs.