ETSU's Grufferty rules Covered Bridge 5K

By Matt Hill


   It was a good day for East Tennessee State cross country runners on Saturday morning, both present and past.
   Current Buccaneer runner James Grufferty took top honors at the Covered Bridge 5K run in downtown Elizabethton, with former ETSU standout Michael Farkas coming in second.
   Tusculum College cross country star Amanda Musick finished as the top overall female.
   Grufferty easily won the race with a time of 15:44. Grufferty blazed out to a huge lead, then cruised from there.
   "The strategy was to get out in front early, so I could back off then and take it as it comes," Grufferty said.
   The weather conditions were extremely difficult, as rain poured down on the runners.
   But according to Grufferty, who is part of ETSU's Irish contingent, the rain played right into his hands.
   "I'm kind of used to it, because I'm from Ireland," he said. "It wasn't that bad."
   Grufferty was very confident coming into this race. As a matter of fact, he knew he was going to take all the marbles.
   "I was kind of expecting to win it," Grufferty said.
   The big win for Grufferty is just the start of some intense training for the upcoming cross country season.
   "I'm just training for cross country this fall," Grufferty said. "Hopefully, we can win conference. This is good training."
   Farkas, who graduated from ETSU in 2002, feels he was defeated by an extremely strong runner on Saturday.
   "James is extremely talented," Farkas said. "I knew he was going to come out and push it early on. I tried to go with him the first little bit, but he was just too fast today. He's just incredibly talented."
   Farkas was a star at Tennessee High before going on to ETSU to run for legendary coach Dave Walker. Since graduation, Farkas has worked as a sportswriter for the Bristol Herald Courier, meaning his time to devote to running has been limited.
   "It's kind of tough getting out there having to train everyday by yourself and keep motivated," Farkas said. "I have actually been able to get out there and keep training. Not as much as I would want to, but I've been able to stay in pretty good shape."
   The extremely talented Musick had no trouble being the top overall female, as she came in with a time of 19:07.
   Many male competitors lost to Musick on this day, but the Lebanon, Va. native didn't exactly come to beat the guys.
   "They're my motivation, so actually it's not beating people, it's trying to get in front with the top runners," Musick said. "My main concern was my time, not winning and losing. It's always nice to win, it always feels good, but I just wanted a good time.
   Musick raced with teammate Roger Jones, and actually came in with a better time than him.
   "I ended up beating him, but he paced me for a good mile," Musick said.
   Musick was struggling in races until recently, when she changed her training methods.
   On Saturday, it paid off.
   "Just recently in the past three weeks, I've changed my training up. I was in a lull doing longer runs, but now I'm breaking up miles and I'm doing it faster. I think it's really going to pay off. It seems that way so far."
   NOTES: Here are the overall age group winners:
   14 and under: Josh Jaynes
   15-19: Matt Young
   20-24: Michael Farkas
   25-29: Jason Vines
   35-39: Jabal Riley
   40-44: Gary Ledford
   45-49: Freeman Cox
   50-54: Claude Shelton
   55-59: George Rolling
   60 and up: Ben Buckner
   15-19: Shanna Raines
   20-24 Heather King
   25-29: Treverian Bativa
   30-34: Debby Tindall
   35-39: Sandra Guinn
   40-44: Allyson Boheman
   45-49: Karen Seiferth
   55-59 Lana Butler
   60 and up: Janice Hicks