Record Numbers Help Raise Money for Scholarships;
Chargers Baseball Team Contributes In More Ways Than One
Right: The Columbia State Chargers Baseball Team played a key role in the success of the Third Annual Alumni 5K Race (right to left): Caleb Pitts, Jeremy Estill, Jeff Birkofer, Rob Holly, Josh Brown, Blake Hayes, Andy Fennel, Jason Overton, Blake Rogers, Ryne Rayburn, Tyler Cole, Casey Delgado, Jake Ray, Mark Rayburn, Josh Parker, James Kessler, Josh Lindsey, Eric Lindsey, Ethan Williams, Tyler Turner; Bottom Row (right to left): Jonathon Byrd, Blake Gentry, Justin Pearson, Justin Bell, Cody Crutcher
More than 200 runners, sprinters and walkers lunged into action at the sound of a cannon at Columbia State Community College’s Third Annual Alumni Association 5K Race on Saturday November 21. Participants ranging in age from seven to 83 came out to compete and to help raise money for scholarships.
“The Third Annual Alumni Association 5K Race was the largest in our three years of holding this event,” said Tom Turchetta, director of development and alumni relations at Columbia State. “It is really exciting to see the growth, and have the running community embrace our efforts in providing another race for Middle Tennessee. We are excited that Columbia State benefits from the participation of all runners and walkers, and look forward to even more growth next year. This year, we had record numbers pre-registered and the highest number of participants for the race.”
For some, participating in the race was a new experience, however many returned from previous years. “The race has grown quite a bit. It’s a great flat course for runners and it’s really well planned out, they’ve always got a lot of great volunteers; it’s a great experience,” said Columbia resident and three-time race participant Norma Powell.
“This is the best weather we’ve ever had. It rained last year, and it was cold and windy, but today is just beautiful,” said Columbia resident and race participant Debbie Culverson. “I like the competition and knowing that I am helping fund student scholarships.” Culverson has been a participant at all three of Columbia State’s Alumni Association 5K Races.
It was a new experience for 83-year-old Columbia resident James Powell. “My family is running, I think a lot of Mr. Turchetta and Columbia State, and I wanted to come out and help,” said Powell. “I hope I finish,” he joked. Powell finished the race with a time of 1:07:00.
This year, many participated with family. Columbia State alumnus Gordon Melton brought along his wife Sandy and their two children Uliana and Max. “It’s a great thing to do, I love it. It’s great for exercise,” said Melton. “Races are excellent for families, a very healthy thing to do.”
Another new element to this year’s race was the strong support and participation from the Columbia State Chargers Baseball Program. In addition to providing 10 volunteers, 29 members of the program including first year head coach Mike Corn and assistants Matthew Little and Ryan Pfleger ran in the event. The volunteers helped with time-keeping, registration for runners, handing out food and drinks, and post race clean-up.
The baseball team had several team members receive recognition for their efforts. In a very competitive field, Mark Rayburn finished fourth overall, Austin Carter finished eighth overall, and Eric Lindsey finished first in his age group. Andy Fennell also had a strong showing by finishing third in his age group and Pfleger represented the coaching staff by placing first in his age group.
“We came out here to do our part to help raise much-needed scholarship money for students,” said Coach Corn. “Even though the goal was not necessarily competing, I am proud of the effort our young men displayed. How well they ran was a reflection of their competitive nature.” The Chargers Baseball season kicks off on February 6 at Wallace State, with the home opener set for February 16 against Bethel College.
Placing first in the overall female category was 35-year-old Rebecca Severe with a time of 21:52. Placing first in the overall male category was 24-year-old Brandon Harmon with a time of 16:46. Harmon also placed first in the overall category last year with a time of 16:44. He placed second in the race’s inaugural year.
All proceeds from the race go to the alumni association scholarship fund.
Columbia State is a two-year college, serving a nine-county area in southern Middle Tennessee with locations in Columbia, Franklin, Lawrenceburg, Lewisburg and Clifton. As Tennessee’s first community college, Columbia State is committed to increasing access and enhancing diversity at all five campuses. Columbia State is a member of the Tennessee Board of Regents, the sixth largest higher education system in the nation. For more information, please visit www.columbiastate.edu.