Polo, DeJesus, Roma and Priddy beat the heat to win Night Run 5K titles

Published 12:47 am Sunday, June 18, 2023

The 6th annual Star Spangled Night Run 5K was a test of endurance and survival as much as it was a race.

Except to Anthony Polo. He made it look easy.

On a hot, humid evening when the sticky, oppressive air slowed everything to a crawl, Polo ran fast to crush the field and win the overall title at Vicksburg’s summer road race. The 24-year-old from Meridian clocked a time of 19 minutes, 58 seconds, which was more than three minutes ahead of runner-up Carl Bryant.

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Bryant finished in 23:09. Jamie Trichell was third in 23:59, Peyton Davidson fourth in 24:45 and Ronnie Hood fifth in 24:59.

“It was a good start, and then in the middle of the course the uphill section really makes a runner debate whether you want to slow your speed down or walk it, and how you want to make up that time. I just kept going,” Polo said.

Polo, who was in town visiting family, said running is one of his hobbies, and this was his first victory in a 5K.

“I’ve never won a 5K. There are runners much more experienced than me,” he said. “I run to stay in shape. I run as a hobby. It’s a stress relief for me. It’s an odd thing to say. Running and pushing yourself, making yourself sweat and breathe heavy is a stress relief.”

Abigail DeJesus, a 15-year-old Vicksburg resident, won the women’s 5K championship with a time of 26:13. The rising sophomore at Warren Central was seventh overall.

Another teenager, 13-year-old Cora Lindsay, was second in the women’s division and 10th overall in 27:40.

“Not fast, but not slow,” DeJesus said of her winning time.

In the 5K race walk, Ron Roma and Lucy Priddy both added another Star Spangled Night Run trophy to their collections.

Roma crossed the finish line in 31:47 to win the overall title for the second time in three years. Priddy was fifth overall in 36:02 to claim the women’s championship for the third year in a row.

“I did a real good time,” Roma said. “About mile two, I was tired. When you make the turn from Chambers to Cherry, it’s about three-quarters of a mile to go. I was looking for an oxygen tank.”

Finishing between Roma and Priddy were Steve Pranger in second in 33:48, Lee Fore in 35:27 and Andrew McCaskill in 35:55.

Ella Kate Boone was sixth overall and second in the women’s division in 38:26, about 2 1/2 minutes behind Priddy.

“I didn’t go out too hard that first mile going up East Avenue. That’s where I usually wear myself out, but I held back until the second mile. That was the way to go,” Priddy said. “It was a little too hot, a little too humid to try to get a good time. My goal was to survive.”

Priddy’s last thought echoed that of a lot of the 101 runners and walkers who braved the nearly 90-degree heat and high humidity to challenge the 5-kilometer course through downtown Vicksburg.

Even though the race started at 8 p.m. under cloudy skies, there was no relief when the sun set midway through the race. Every participant was drenched in sweat by the time they crossed the finish line.

“The humidity was real bad tonight. I got about to mile two and I was ready to pack it in,” Roma joked. “I was looking for a cold beer. Look at everybody. We’re soaked.”


About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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