Star Spangled Spectacular 5K

LIMA – Former Lima Central Catholic standout distance runner Emily Sreenan is very familiar with Faurot Park and the surrounding area.

Sreenan, who is now in a master’s degree program at the University of Dayton and runs for the Flyers, used to cross the finish line in first place quite frequently at Faurot Park throughout her high school days in cross country.

So, it seemed only fitting for the 2018 LCC graduate to do it one more time.

At Monday’s Star Spangled Spectacular 5K at Faurot Park, the 22-year-old Sreenan pulled away early on and was never challenged in the women’s field, en route to a winning time of 18 minutes, 56.2 seconds on the 5,000-meter course that traversed through part of downtown Lima and then circled back to Faurot Park to the finish line. The entire cross-country course that Sreenan competed on during her high school days, is in Faurot Park.

Sara Anderson, a 34-year-old from Lima, finished second in 20:39 on Monday. Anderson won the Star Spangled Spectacular 5K in 2017. Former Elida and Ohio Christian University standout Alyssa (Turrentine) Gardner (24-year-old) came in a close third (20:46.6).

On the men’s side, 2022 Allen East graduate Hunter Sidle came away with the victory in a time of 17:26. Canaan Gardner, the 24-year-old husband of Alyssa Gardner, was a close second (17:32.9). Caleb Stechschulte, who just graduated from Columbus Grove, finished third (18:00.7).

Sreenan, a former Division III cross country champion in high school and a three-time all-Atlantic 10 Conference runner at the University of Dayton, said it was a great experience to come back to Lima to race.

“It’s really fun. I always love coming back to this park,” Sreenan said. “There’s a lot of good memories. Obviously, with this race, there’s people that I raced against in high school, maybe ran against in college, or maybe I’ve seen in college throughout the years. There’s a lot of good memories. I love coming back. … It’s a community like no other.”

Sreenan’s all-time best in the 5K is 17:24.9 in cross country and 17:06 on the track, while competing at Dayton. In 2016, Sreenan won the high school Division III state title in cross country with a personal-best time of 18:01.

“Hopefully this year, we’re breaking 17 (minutes in the 5K),” Sreenan said with a smile.

Most of Sreenan’s college races in cross country are the 6K distance. Her personal best in the 6K is 20:49.9.

Sreenan has actually graduated from Dayton with a bachelor’s degree in high school education (history and religion). She is teaching part-time at Carroll High School, while working on her master’s degree to be an Intervention Specialist.

However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, Sreenan and her U.D. teammates were granted an extra year of eligibility. So, Sreenan will be able to participate in both cross country and track, throughout the entire upcoming school year.

Sreenan is logging some high mileage with her running this summer in preparation for the upcoming fall season in cross country. However, she still wanted to come out Monday and put forth a strong effort.

“There was a good pack with me for a little bit,” Sreenan said in reference to Monday’s race. “I definitely went out too fast. I started out at about a 5:20 (-minute mile) pace. That’s a little quick for me. But I knew, going out, that I’d probably get out a little fast at the beginning, and then settle in. I kind of died in the middle, but got it back together there for the last mile.”

The 18-year-old Sidle had a battle on his hands Monday.

For the Bowling Green State University-commit, it all came down to the final stretch. Sidle did not want to get out too fast in Monday’s race.

“I didn’t get the lead until about 2.9 miles in. I kind of stayed with the pack. It just kind of worked out,” Sidle said. “My (BGSU) coach told me not to go out too hard today. She told me to take the first one (mile) light, and just see how I felt. I felt really good. So, I just kept speeding up.”

This past spring track season, Sidle placed seventh in the 3,200 meters (9:39.04) at the Division III state meet. This past fall in cross country, Sidle came in 12th in a personal best of 16:14.6. Both of those performances earned him first team all-Ohio honors.

In college, Sidle will compete in more longer races, the 8K and 10K. He is ready for the challenge at the next level.

“Personally, I think the longer the race, the better I can do,” Sidle said with a smile. “We’ll see. … I’m really excited.”

Sidle plans on majoring in biology at BGSU.

A total of 223 runners finished the event.