PITTSTON — Matt Flynn ran to his third straight win and Tara Johnson scored a wire-to-wire victory on Saturday in the 17th annual Pittston Tomato Festival 5K run.
Flynn, 29, of Media and formerly from Pittston, broke the tape in 16 minutes and 42 seconds. The former Pittston Area High School track and cross country standout, outraced second-place finisher, Chris McCabe, 25, of Lancaster and formerly from Wyoming, by 32 seconds. Bob Yonick, 31, of Camp Hill, finished third in 18:07.
“It feels good — winning three in a row,” said Flynn, who runs for the prestigious Bryn Mawr Running Company. “I love this race. That’s why I keep coming back.”
McCabe ran with Flynn over the first two miles of the race. That’s when Flynn made his move.
“I kind of put some distance between us just after mile 2,” said Flynn. “Once I opened up a lead, it was all over. I lost him on the hills.”
Johnson, 17, of Avoca, won top female honors in 20:10. And even though she led from start to finish, she scored just a one second win, holding off second-place finisher, Jenn Swiderski-Yonick, 29, of Camp Hill and formerly from Nanticoke. Molly MacDonald, 22, of Scranton, finished third, just six seconds behind Swiderski-Yonick.
“I went out fast right from the start and took the lead,” said Johnson, who will be a senior at Pittston Area High School where she runs cross country and track, specializing in the 4×800. “Once I took the lead, I just tried to hold it.”
She did. But it wasn’t easy.
At the half way point of the race, Johnson had about a 40-meter lead over Swiderski-Yonick.
Swiderski-Yonick cut into that deficit and kept pressuring Johnson. But Johnson proved to be too tough at the finish, using a strong kick over the home stretch to secure the win.
Swiderski-Yonick said of Johnson, “She pounded that final straight away. She was just too strong at the finish.”
17th annual 5K Run at the 32nd annual Pittston Tomato Festival results
Top 3 Male Finishers
1. Matt Flynn, 29, Media, 16:42
2. Chris McCabe, 25, Lancaster, 17:18
3. Bob Yonick, 31, Camp Hill, 18:07
Male award winners: Overall: 1. Flynn; 2. McCabe; 3. Yonick. Age group winners: 14 & under: Tony Molinaro, Pittston, 19:59. 15-19: Joe Buczynski, Exeter, 19:28. 20-24: Jeff Nelson, Shickshinny, 20:38. 25-29: Raphael Verdetto, Old Forge, 20:53. 30-34: Brian Gallagher, Old Forge, 21:09. 35-39: Len VanOrden, Moscow, 19:56. Masters division: 40-44: Kohn Curley, Jenkins Twp., 22:08. 45-49: Dave Pitterberi, Fredericksburg, 20:27. 50-59: Mike McAndrew, Avoca, 19:07. 60 & over: Ed Lipski, Clarks Green, 21:35.
Top 3 female finishers
1. Tara Johnson, 17, Avoca, 20:10
2. Jenn Swiderski-Yonick, 29, 20:11
3. Molly MacDonald, Scranton, 20:17
Female award winners: Overall: 1. Johnson; 2. Spider ski-Yonick; 3. MacDonald. Age group winners: 14 & under: Bailey Loyack, Pittston, 21:50. 15-19: Mackenzie Bilbow, W. Wyoming, 25:24. 20-24: Alexandra Conniff, Roaring Brook Twp., 21:05. 25-29: Jackie Baldwin, Wyoming, 22:35. 30-34: Emily Bell, Bear Creek Twp., 22:01. 35-39: Christal Zermane, Avoca, 20:44. Masters division: 40-44: Melissa Obmann, Mountain Top, 23:48. 45-49: Mary Leonard, New York City, 23:23. 50-59: Kim Shambora, Laflin, 27:21. 60 & over: Debbi Alunni, Jessup, 27:29.
Field: 370 (run-300, walk-70). Official starter and finisher: Joe Curry. Timing and results: Fast Finishes (www.fastfinishes.net). Finish line officials: Joleen Lazecki and Hannah Melone. Race directors: Jay Duffy and Michelle Hopkins. Tomato Festival chairpersons: Lori Nocito and Mike Lombardo.