Ken Cohen and Eli Ruiz | Democrat
David Luczyski of Woodridge finished the race in style, popping the question to girlfriend Kelsi Lockhart of Grahamsville at the awards ceremony;
Story by Eli Ruiz
ROCK HILL June 18, 2013 Monticello High School graduate and former track athlete Doviana Sabatino was a teammate and good friend of star Panther runner Jessica Fingers, whose life ended tragically in a Columbia University dorm room in April.
Sabatino, who hadn’t run since high school, picked up running again soon after Fingers’ death and decided to run in Saturday’s annual Rhulen Run and Ramble in memory of her fallen teammate.
“She was an inspiration to all of us,” said Sabatino, 20. “Our team was like a family. We spent so much time together after school and every weekend. Whether it was pasta parties, shin digs or sleepovers we were always together.
“We lost a huge part of our family when Jess died. I wanted to celebrate her life and let her know that her legacy lives on. It just motivated me to run and it’s [this race] is also for such a great cause.”
That cause is raising money to fight leukemia and lymphoma. Better yet, it directly helps local patients and families here in Sullivan County.
Part of Saturday’s proceeds which were estimated in excess of $ 60,000 went to benefit 34-year-old Johnny Trinidad of Liberty who has been courageously fighting his second bout with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.
Resting at Westchester Medical Center after his second stem cell transplant in two weeks, Trinidad was too weak to attend Saturday’s 5K, but in his place stood his mother Zulma Montijo who braved the knee surgery she underwent just two months ago, walking with her aluminum cane and making it a point to finish the race. Afterwards, she thanked all participants and race organizers for the approximately $9,000 that will go toward her son’s treatment.
Trinidad’s cancer had been in remission for several years after his initial diagnosis in 2006. In January, though, the disease once again reared its ugly head.
“This was for him,” said Montijo, adding, “ he’s a great father and we all just want him to get back to being a healthy father again.”
Even for nine-year-old Evan Waterton, “who just loves to run,” the race’s true meaning is not lost.
“Not only do I love it, but helping raise money for people with cancer is important,” said Waterton of Kiamesha Lake. “It feels even better to run. I think this is important some day maybe there won’t be cancer.”
Waterton, who is quickly earning a reputation as a running phenomenon, bolted through the finish line at 21:07.3; good for 53rd place overall, besting his 21:54 finish last year and garnering the youngster his second consecutive first-place finish for the under 10 age group.
Just last weekend, Waterton finished second overall behind his brother William in the “Jr. Spartan Race” in Tuxedo Ridge. Competing in his second consecutive Rock Hill Run and Ramble, Evan’s father Calvin is an avid and accomplished runner himself and Evan seems determined to literally follow in the elder Waterton’s footsteps.
“It’s in his blood,” said mom Billie, also a decorated runner who competed in the Empire State Games in the 1990s. “He started running three years ago and he just hasn’t stopped since. It’s his first love. He’s completely hooked.”
And talk about love and getting hooked. Woodridge’s David Luczyski couldn’t think of a better place to propose to his girlfriend Kelsi Lockhart of Grahamsville than after the race at the awards ceremony.
Before a massive crowd of runners, organizers and onlookers, Luczyski, 24, took to the stage just before the awards ceremony was to begin, and taking a knee, as well as Lockhart’s hand, surprised his unsuspecting girlfriend by asking her to spend the rest of her life with him.
“I called Myriam [race volunteer Myriam Loor] about three weeks ago to tell her about my plan,” explained Luczyski. “Originally, I wanted to do it at the finish line but she [Loor] felt it would be a much better idea to do it after the race during the awards. She was right.”
By the way, Lockhart, 29, said yes.
Founded 21 years ago by Suzy Loughlin of Rock Hill in honor of her father Walter Rhulen, who died of leukemia in 1998 at the age of 66, the 21st annual Rock Hill Run and Ramble has grown exponentially since its inception, with Saturday’s iteration attracting nearly a thousand participants from throughout Sullivan County, the Hudson Valley and beyond.
As for the top finishers, it was déjà vu all over again for Uganda native Hargert Okuti, 27, of New Paltz, whose time of 14:35.05 bested his closest competitor by nearly 15 seconds. Second place overall went to Fikadu Lemma, 29, of New York City with a time of 14:48.03. The top local finisher was Hans Zanger, 17 of Forestburg, who finished fifth in a time of 16:44.
For the women, first place went to Tigist Tufa, 26, of NYC who crossed the finish line first in 17:03. Melissa Gugklan of Poughkeepsie finished second. Sydney Johnson, 14 of Rock Hill had the top finish by a local female, coming in 33rd overall and fourth among all women.
All in all, Sullivan County runners won seven age divisions, including the youngest male (Waterton, 10) and oldest female (Mary Heinle, 78).
Besides the actual race, Saturday was a day for giving, as a “bone marrow booth” was featured prominently at the event. Erin Calkin, Diane Lynker and Ecki Stern all with the non-profit DKMS urged attendees to help “delete blood cancer.” The trio talked about the desperate need for more “ethnic” bone marrow donors.
“We mostly get Caucasian donors,” said Calkin. “That’s fine, but today we’re actively looking for minorities to donate. They [minorities] have this notion that it’s a very painful process and it’s just not true anymore. The most commonly used method today is completely painless. We desperately want to get the word out.”
With a health fair, raffle, cash and prizes, there was something for everyone Saturday. Especially Sabatino, who paid tribute to Fingers by wearing a pair of bright yellow Saucony track shoes like she used in high school.
“Jessica had the same exact pair,” Sabatino explained. “A bunch of us went and got the same pair for track season her [Fingers’] senior year. It took me a while to find them, but I finally did a few nights before the race. They brought back so many great memories of her that I just had to wear them today.”
RHULEN RACE RESULTS
Overall Top 10
1. Hargert Olouti, New Patlz 14:35
2. Fikadu Lemma, New York 14:48
3. Tesfaye Girma, New York 15:05
4. Jake Albino, New Hampton 15:32
5. Hans Zanger, Forestburgh 16:44
6. Tigist Tufa, New York 17:03
7. Kevin Wippel, Pine Bush 17:15
8. Raymond Revell, Wurtsboro 17:40
9. Joseph Klein, Forestburgh 17:43
10. Christopher Biondi, Pine Bsh 17:45
Overall Female Open
1. Tigist Tufa, New York 17:03
2. Melissa Guckian, Poughkeep 17:47
3. Jacqueline Kasal, Warwick 19:10
Overall Male Open
1. Hargert Olouti, New Paltz 14:35
2. Fikadu Lemma, New York 14:48
3. Tesfaye Girma, New York 15:05
Female ages 1-10
1. Alyssa Biondi, Pine Bush 25:35
2. Cara Peddle, Warwick 28:40
3. Lauryn Grodin, Wurtsboro 29:56
1. Evan Waterton, Kiamesha Lk. 21:07
2. Jack Peddle, Warwick 24:36
3. Roland Zanger, Forestburgh 27:46
1. Sydney Johnson, Rock Hill 19:49
2. Sarah Grodin, Wurtsboro 24:33
3. Emily Catizone, Otisville 25:23
1. Christopher Biondi, Pine Bush 17:45
2. William Lindau, Middletown 18:37
3. Troy Zanger, Forestburgh 19:29
1. Rianne Erlwein, Jeffersonville 22:11
2. Brittany Rupp, Forestburgh 23:02
3. Madeline Goldsmith, Midltwn 23:15
1. Hans Zanger, Forestburgh 16:44
2. Joseph Klein, Forestburgh 17:43
3. Steven Biondi, Pine Bush 18:16
1. Courtney Loertscher, Wallkill 21:10
2. Shanna Beairsto, Middletown 21:15
3. Joanna Goldfarb, Harris 21:34
1. Jake Albino, New Hampton 16:32
2. Kevin Wippel, Pine Bush 17:15
3. Sean Hayes, Warwick 18:55
1. Fernanda Faria, Goshen 20:06
2. Brianne Brunke, Middletown 23:50
3. Evgeniya Korotkova, Forstbrgh 23:53
1. Jon Lesser, New York 18:21
2. Andy Vogel, Roseland, NJ 18:46
3. Andrew Guckian, Poughkeep 19:01
1. Ann Marie Sargent, Avon 20:59
2. Barbara Ferrante, Wurtsboro 21:32
3. Kristine Vogt, Florida 21:55
1. Raymond Revell, Wurtsboro 17:40
2. Brian Groin, Wurtsboro 18:02
3. Mark Stephenson, Esperance 18:12
1. Jean Norton, Wurtsboro 20:35
2. Patty Insignares, Goshen 21:40
3. Annette Burke, Goshen 22:14
1. Frank Colella, Campbell Hall 19:15
2. Bill Schneider, Barryville 21:19
2. Kevin Davis, Circleville 21:31
1. Christine Devries, Hpewell Jct. 25:10
2. Elsa Grosser, Cochecton 28:30
3. Eileen Wohlfjen, Hurleyville 29:01
1. Ken Devries, Hopewell Jct. 20:37
2. Louis Landon, Chestnut Ridge 23:28
3.Carl Zuidema, Warwick 23:28
1. Victoria Greffrath, Damascus 37:16
2. Ada Biondi, Nanuet 41:40
3. Ruth Shelley, Middletown 48:53
1. John Singer, Suffern 27:18
2. Robert Osgood, Napanoch 34:06
3. Raymond Sr. Leduc, Marlboro 34:58
1. Mary Heinle, WSS 39:19
2. Gloria Kantrowitz, Woodrigde 44:54
3. Kelly Desmond, Claryville 56:47
1. James Dugan, Cornwall 32:44
2. Joseph Kmiecik, Chestertwn 46:41
3. Louis Loppolo, Warwick 51:03