WARREN, NJ -On a made-to-order day for a run or vigorous walk in the Watchung Hills, 146 runners and walkers participated in the 12th annual Bob Beckert Memorial Scholarship 5K Run/Walk on Sunday, June 7. This event raises funds to support scholarships for graduating Watchung Hills Regional graduates and honors the memory of Bob Beckert, who was an outstanding father, husband, brother, friend, community volunteer, business executive, and runner.
Chris Heibell, age 28, of Hillsborough crossed the finish line first for the eighth time, covering the scenic course in Warren in 15 minutes and 35 seconds. Sylvia Baeyens, age 16, of Stirling, repeated as the top female with a time of 20 minutes and 21 seconds, almost one minute faster than her winning time in 2014. Many runners, who are regular participants in this event, found the comfortable 66 degree temperature led to personal bests in their times on the course.
Runner after runner and walker after walker pushed up the final stretch up Regional Drive from Mountain Avenue in Warren to the finish line at Watchung Hills Regional High School with great enthusiasm and effort, characteristics that marked Bob Beckert, a member of the state championship cross country team at WHRHS and an avid runner as an adult.
Longtime participant, friend of Bob, and now race volunteer, Joel Stambaugh, dubbed the challenging incline to the end of the run as “The Hill,” where Bob’s brother, John, his voice booming through his famous megaphone, exhorts all participants to race the clock to the end.
The organization of the run is a work of love by Bob’s family members, especially his three daughters, Kristin, Brittany, Kaitlin, and son, Brian. In a collective quote, the four Beckert children stated, “We could not have asked for a better race day with beautiful weather and a great turnout from the community. We love being able to honor he memory of our father while raising scholarship funds for Watchung Hills Regional High School graduates to support them as they begin college. Thank you to all who made it out to the 12th annual race, and we hope to see all of you next year.”
The Bob Beckert Memorial Scholarships were awarded this year to Anthony Cuonzo, Sebastian Gallic, Tony Hayeck, and Christine Panella.
In this year’s race, the second place man was Jon Jaleus, age 24 from Randolph, in a time of 17:19, followed by Dylan Cabral, 19, of Warren with a time of 18:50. The top ten men were founded out by Tim Burns, Michael Larkin, Graham Doskoch, Mike Porter, Wes Traub, and Paul Fiorilla, and Huseyin Uzunaliogly.
Yen Pena, age 38 of Union, was the second woman across the finish line with a time of 20:57 followed by 15-year-old Jessie Hoffman, of Millington in 21:26. Rounding out the top 10 were Meredith Young, Devann Ard Bodell, Marie Baeyens, Marie Baeyens, Christina Ross, Long Hill Township Superintendent of Schools Rene Rovtar, Lauren Brucato, and Emily Van Pelt.
Top 10 runners in each age group are listed below with the time for the top age group award winner (not all age groups had 10 entrants):
Age 1 to 13 males: John Rutledge, 33:11; Joshua Kovacs.
Age 1 to 13 females: The youngest participant, Maureen Rutledge, age 8, 38:55.
14-19 males: Dylan Cabral, 17:22; Graham Doskoch; Matteo Baeyens; David Cooke; Brian Beckert; Quinn Young; Sebastian Gallic; Michael Erickson; Charlie Diana.
14-19 females: Sylvia Baeyens, 20:21; Jessie Hoffman; Meredith Young; Emily Van Pelt; Vittoria Realbuto; Shannon Jiecza; Kimberly Mondoro; Kelly Rhyner; Alyssa Horwitz.
20 to 29 males: Chris Heibell, 15:35; Jon Jaleus; Tim Burns; Michael Larkin; Wes Traub; Cameron Black; Brendan Ard; Connor O’Neill; James Shea; Michael Canfarotta.
20 to 29 females: Devann Ard Bodell, 22:38; Christina Ross; Lauren Brucato; Jessica McKeon; Zoe Malkin; Dana Hannsgen; Jennifer Bootan; Allison Ard; Theresa Ferrana; Sydney Diana.
30 to 39 males: Randy Salani, 20:55; Sean Durkin; Vin Ferraro.
30 to 39 females: Yen Pena, 20:57; Shannon Solheim; Maggie Shaw; Lisa Zelenenki; Shana Durkin; Kelly Beckert.
40 to 49 males: Mike Porter, 19:05; Huseyin Uzunaliogly; Jeff Young; Tobin Kovacs.
40 to 49 females: Marie Baeyens, 22:58; former Watchung Hills track coach Mary Sok; Allison Kent; Patricia Rutledge; Rachel Laiserin; Rebecca Young.
50 to 59 males: Paul Fiorilla, 19:56; Ed Halper; Paul Siezka; Peter Doskoch; Mark Diana; Roger Erickson; Rick Titus; Craig Woods; Chris Grech; Mark Von Bradstay.
50 to 59 females: Rene Rovtar, 23:37; Kathy Rhyner; Andrea Adams; Nancy Finn; Judy Hogan; Susan Diana; Mary Lou DiRosa; Ann McCormick; Nancy Peer; Mary Buccarelli.
60 to 69 males: Charles Peer, 27:30; retired Watchung Hills Regional High School principal Tom DiGanci; John McDonald; Patrick Fitzsimmons; Roy Greco; Tom Bruning; Paul Busch; Dennis Giaimo.
60 to 69 females: Mary Beth Campau, 37:23.
70 to 79 males: Bob Senyk, 41:09.
70 to 79 females: The oldest participant, Kathleen Kavanagh, age 75, 54:34.