ELYRIA – Matt Wiehe was in a degree of agony the last half mile as he fought to win Saturday’s third annual James A. Kerstetter 5K Run & Family Fun Walk.
He quickly rationalized the price was small in comparison to the ultimate sacrifice made by the late Elyria police sergeant.
Wiehe’s big surge in the last quarter mile coming off Broad Street in Elyria was the game-breaker in a field of more than 450 runners.
The Ashland University sophomore clocked 17 minutes, 3.2 seconds for the chip-timed race as he pulled away from Elyria High sophomore James Hawks, 15 (17:11.4) and Cleveland’s Andrew Belzer, 28 (17:18.8).
“I was really hurting,” said Wiehe, 19, “(but) it was a small price to pay. Elyria was very lucky to have known such a great guy as Officer Kerstetter.”
The late-race pain Wiehe experienced was from more than from lactic acid build-up. He also was dealing with a nagging leg injury which forced him to cut back his weekly mileage from 75 to 25.
Wiehe finished fourth at last year’s event behind Tyler Kvach, Kirk Shellhouse and Bryce Steindl. He was All-Ohio twice for Elyria Catholic as a member of the 3,200-meter relay in 2010 and ‘11 and member of three state cross country teams that finished second (2009), fourth (2010) and ninth (2008).
“The hardest part of the course was the four hills in Elywood Park,” Hawks said. “I love to come and race for a great cause. You can’t change history, so I want to do whatever I can to support the cause.”
The women’s side of the Kerstetter Memorial 5K gave race fans their money’s worth. It was a dual down to the wire between Huron’s Lydia Souter and Michaela Foisy of Elyria.
The 27-year-old Souter fought off Foisy’s late surge as the Elyria runner nearly overcame a 100-meter deficit. Souter was clocked at 19:36.2 and Foisy, 17, was timed at 19:39.4. The gun time also had Souter winning, but just barely — 19:39.3 to 19:39.5. Two-time defending champ Alexa Rick, 19, from Elyria, was third with 20:03.9.
“Today’s event was for a great cause,” said Souter, who won her second Lorain County 5K race in three weeks. “It brings other communities together to support the memory of the late officer.
“Elywood Park was very tough, but I learned my lesson from hills (in Beavercreek Park) at Amherst (Soul to Sole 5K, June 23). It was great to have such good competition.”
An Elyria Catholic senior, Foisy understands sacrifice as well as anyone. Her father, Dave, is a Lorain firefighter.
“I’m inspired by the people in our safety services,” said Foisy, a 2011 Division III state cross country qualifier. “I’m glad that we came out to show the police department our support by honoring them.”
Foisy wasn’t exactly sure how she would respond to the challenge of competition after a rough spring. She suffered a tear in her Achilles as track season got under way. She came back in time to qualify for regionals in the 1,600 meters, but was limited in her efforts after coming down with a case of mono just prior districts.
“I told myself that today was my trial day to see what I could go out and do,” said Foisy.
A 15-year veteran of the Elyria Police Department, Kerstetter was shot and killed March 15, 2010, while responding to a disturbance involving neighbors on 18th Street in Elyria.
Contact Paul Heyse at 440-329-7135 or email@example.com.