By Doug Hawley
While winning the ninth annual Silver Bell Sprint on Friday night, Isaac Pacheco set a state road racing record for his age division.
Pacheco, a 17-year-old junior at North Murray High, finished the 5K (3.1-mile) race — which started and ended at City Park School in downtown Dalton — in 16 minutes and 15.6 seconds for a United States Track and Field Association mark.
“It’s great to have that record,” Pacheco said. “It’s my first win here in about five times. When I started running, I was running 24s. I didn’t see myself winning it with the times they were running.”
Pacheco paced 547 finishers, one of the event’s largest gatherings, almost from the start. He raced through a 5:01 first mile and coasted home free while averaging 5:14 per mile.
Katie Rutledge, a 19-year-old Shorter College sophomore distance runner, led the females in 19:17.
“I’ve run this race for two or three years and really enjoyed it,” Rutledge said. “We make it a family event with four of us. This is my first time to win it.”
Jason Alford, 38 of Dalton, a former Dalton High standout, took the runner-up spot in 17:26. Manuel Ferrer, 40 of Dalton, rounded out the top three in 17:36.
Pacheco, who has also tried the half-marathon distance of 13.1 miles, said that he has his eyes on another state age group record a week from today at the Carpet Capital 10-Miler in Varnell. That mark is 58:30.
“I’ve never run that distance,” he said. “However, I’ve been running about 70 miles a week, which should help me.”
Despite her 5K prowess, Rutledge leans more toward longer distances.
“The half marathon is probably my favorite distance,” said Rutledge, a graduate of Woodland High in Bartow County. “I qualified on Thanksgiving Day in Atlanta for the NAIA championships next May.”
Bekah Houston, a 17-year-old Dalton High junior, finished second for the females in 20:46. Defending champion Shelley Taylor, 24 and of Cohutta, a former University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and Northwest Whitfield High runner, claimed the third spot this time in 21:25.
Pacheco was joined by three other state age-group record-breakers — two boys Jessie Martinez of Chatsworth, 11, 19:04; and Eli Nance of Dalton, 9, 24:17; and one girl, Valen Windom (residence unknown), 10, 21:29.
In the one-miler, which attracted some 150 people, overall honors went to two City Park students: Nicklaus Hagin, 6:07; and Whitley Wingfield, 6:39.
Special honors for most participants went to Brookwood Elementary, School Cup; Rocky Face Baptist, Church Division; Dalton Fire Department, Government Division; Shaw Industries, Large Companies; and J and J Industries, Small Companies.
Staci Halyak, director of sponsoring Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Georgia Mountains, said, “In having one of the largest crowds that we’ve ever had, all proceeds will go locally for us. We so appreciate the wonderful community support.”
Primary sponsors included Modern Woodmen, Shaw Industries, Mohawk, Textile Rubber and Chemical Company, and A Total Resource.
Carpet Capital Running Club, which provided logistics for the event, will later post results at its website, carpetcapitalrunningclub.com.