What does the number 1,238 mean? I will pass along the number’s significance later. But first, we will turn to the number 1:23:21. A very impressive number.
The latter number is the winning finishing time of last Saturday’s Front Porch Half Marathon in Bellows Falls. Actually, the number was so impressive that two-time winner Tim Blicharz, who turned in that performance, probably had plenty of time to sit on half the front porches in town before the race’s second place finisher crossed the finish line. That is no slap at the rest of the field; that’s simply high praise for Blicharz.
The whispers go that Terrier track coach Tim Eno knows a runner when he sees one. He strongly encouraged Blicharz to run track for him. Blicharz had other interests. He was a tennis player and followed that route in high school. His father John tells me, “At times, he kicks himself about that now.”
I’m quite sure he wasn’t kicking himself once he crossed the finish line Saturday. He had to have a big enough smile to light up the hometown he had returned to, to run the streets and the outskirts of his former village.
Ali Patrick from Newnan, Ga. captured first place in the women’s competition. She was third overall in 1:41:41, about four minutes behind second place finisher David Loutzenheiser. Last year’s winner, Patrick Clark from Walpole, was fourth in 1:41:35 and Paul Hopkins was six seconds behind him in fifth place. Lynn Hansen and Francie Lin were second and third in the women’s competition.
Tiffany Lewis captured the eight-mile race in 1:04:53 in a close finish over Mark Krekele of 11 seconds.
Some impressive numbers surrounding the event: runners entered from 23 different states; 20 runners were from Vermont; and 70 volunteers helped by manning water and cheer stations. These volunteers came from People’s Bank, Westminster Fitbody Bootcamp, Vermont Academy, the Guild Family, the Saxtons River Inn, Meg Letson Health and Fitness, and the Bellows Falls Union High School football team.
Now onto 1,238. The number is the official attendance at last week’s Bellows Falls vs. Springfield game. Cosmo athletic director Rich Saypack released that over the weekend after all the ticket stubs had been counted. Saypack gave explicit instructions to his ticket staff that he wanted everyone to have a ticket.
When I entered, showing my press credentials, ticket person number four excitedly told me it doesn’t matter what you are here for, you must have a ticket. When I told Saypack late Friday night, long before he counted the stubs, that I was disappointed that I thought there were only between 600 and 800 present, he said either my seeing or counting needed some work because he thought the total would be closer to 1,000.
Well, 1,238 is way beyond what I thought the number would be. Last week, I told you, it would be the biggest crowd at an athletic event in the area all year and the fans proved the forecast to be true.
The contest itself was the absolute best Terriers and Cosmos match up in a decade. Both sides walked away feeling they could have done better.
In this writer’s opinion, giving the fans a game in which the outcome was up in the air until Jed Lober took off on his six-yard touchdown run with only one minute and 30 seconds remaining, was just what the doctor ordered. The Terriers claim the bragging rights, not to mention the trophy for yet another year, but there is absolutely no reason for any Springfield player to hang their head.
The most important game for each of these teams is ahead of them and now there is no time to be spent on what happened in the past. It’s full speed forward, working towards the best team you can be in the next five weeks. One big verdict is still out. Both or neither of these teams may advance to the Division II or III Championship Game in Rutland Nov. 9. The best case scenario would be both.
Lober opened the game scoring with a 52-yard rumble on a short down yardage play with 1:31 to go in the opening quarter. Bellows Falls looked like they might take total charge when they pushed their lead to 13-0 on their first possession of the second stanza. Terrier quarterback Griffin Waryas found McGregor Vancor behind the Springfield secondary on a 40-yard pass catch for a score followed by a Jeb Monier conversion kick.
Just as they did one week prior when they fell two scores behind late in the first half to Bellows Free Academy of Fairfax, the Cosmos found paydirt shortly before halftime when signal caller Sam Presch tossed an 11-yard scoring pass to Kaleb Chambers. The Springfield two-point conversion to Anthony Steele from Presch was about the sixth different option they have been successful on out of their unique center eligible spread formation. The score stood at 13-8 until Lober scored the game-clinching touchdown mentioned above.
Springfield coach Todd Aiken said, “That’s BF. You know they are going to pound the ball, and we couldn’t put together that type of drive.”
On the other sideline, Terrier Coach Bob Lockerby felt comfortable when his team was up two scores, but in retrospect he mentioned, “It’s scary the way they can come back so quickly. They just keep competing and don’t go away.”
The Cosmos travel to Woodstock Friday night, and will kick-off at the same 7 p.m. time that Bellows Falls gets underway at North Country.
Fall Mountain surprised Bishop Brady last week. The Wildcats were 2-2 and needed two wins in their final three games in order to advance to the post season. The ease in which they dispatched of Brady 42-6 has even the teams at the top of New Hampshire Division IV turning their heads. Izaak Westover continues to shine, tallying three touchdowns on the way to the win.
Orion Binney’s Wildcats led 20-0 at the half, but Binney was a bit concerned when Brady made it 20-6 early in the third quarter. “We lost focus at times and were fumbling the ball, so it was good when we put it back together and scored some more. Early in the season there were times when the other team scored and we hung our heads, but I think we have learned from that. We are improving each week and showing more confidence.”
The Wildcats are idle this week and then travel to Mascoma Saturday, Oct. 19 for a 2 p.m. contest.