Simonetta, Gerstle win Classic

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 23, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Despite upwards of nearly six inches of rain over an over-24-hour period between Thursday afternoon and Friday night, the 25th annual Taco Bell River City Classic still took place Saturday morning in downtown Natchez.

And the weather played a role in the 10K (6.2 mile) run and 5K (3.1 mile) run with dropping temperatures, strong northwest wind, and off-and-on light rain. However, a course record was broken &045; in the female 10K division.

Amy Simonetta of Monroe, La., was the female winner of the 10K run with a time of 38:07 &045; three seconds better than the previous record of 38:10.

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&uot;It was a pretty good run,&uot; Simonetta said. &uot;It was a little windy today. It’s a nice course. A little hilly. I just wanted to break the woman’s course record.&uot;

Ashley Carillo of Raymond, last year’s 10K female champion, finished in third place this time around with a time of 45:12. Suzy Seeber of West Monroe, La., was second in 44:55.

Yousri Elmejdoubl of Meridian, the 2001 and 2002 men’s 10K champion who set the course record last year with a time of 30:55, did not participate in this year’s event.

And that meant there would be

a new champion &045; Alan Gerstle of Opelousas, La., who finished with a time of 36:14.

&uot;I enjoyed the course and the hospitality,&uot; Gerstle said. &uot;Where I live there’s a lot of flat land. Overall, I’m happy with my time. This is one of the few 10Ks I’ve won.&uot;

Gerstle also said that he started

to slow down some between the third and fourth mile of the course, &uot;but when I saw that finish line I started kickin’ it in.&uot;

Second place belonged to Natchez’s Karlecio Richardson, one of 12 Natchez High tracksters competing in the 10K. Richardson ran a time of 39:25 and finished four spots better than he did last year.

&uot;Last year I tried to keep up with the pacemakers,&uot; Richardson said. &uot;This year I tried to save myself till the end. I was so happy. I wanted to break 40 this year.&uot;

Natchez High track coach Larry Wesley described the 10K as a &uot;get-ready meet&uot; for his team’s meet Friday at Raymond against Raymond, Pearl and Murrah.

Debbie Cheney of Vicksburg won her second straight 5K walk with a time of 27:23.