DALLAS — Robert Moulton scored an easy victory in the Back Mountain Catholic Youth 5K Run on Saturday at Gate of Heaven Church.
The 23-year-old from Mountain Top — a past winner of the 5K — broke the tape in 17 minutes and 15 seconds. He outran second-place finisher, John Novack, also 23, from Tunkhannock, by 2:57. Francis Zelinka, 26, of Nanticoke, finished third in 22:45.
“It’s been a few years since I raced here,” said Moulton, who is the head track and cross country coach at Crestwood High School. “I forgot about just how tough this race, with all the hills, really is.”
Moulton and Novack ran together over the first quarter of a mile. Then Moulton took control of the race.
“I just kept up a consistent pace and gradually pulled away,” he said. “There are a number of tough hills, including one towards the end of the race that’s really challenging because at that point you’re really hurting. But I pushed that hill because I knew there was a nice downhill to the finish of the race.”
Moulton said the course is one of the toughest races, if not the toughest race, he’s ever run.
Lelena Zelinka, a 17-year-old from Mountain Top, won the female division of the race, clocking in at 27:56. She outran second-place finisher, Brittany Baracci, 30, of Harveys Lake, by 21 seconds. Brianna Brodt, 25, of Peckville, finished third, 13 seconds behind Barbacci.
Zelinka said she started running three years ago just for fun.
“I ran behind over the first half of the race,” she said. “And I passed the leader on a downhill. Once I took the lead, I held it to the finish.”
Last year’s winner, Marina Orrson, and second-place finisher, John Martino, didn’t race. They were saving themselves for Sunday’s Susquehanna River Runners Club’s 8K Run at the Susquehanna Warrior Trail in Shickshinny.
Proceeds from the 5K go to the Back Mountain Catholic Youth Group, an organization that does charity work both locally and at out-of-town locations.
Next year, according to Back Mountain Catholic Group minister, Francis Zelinka, the group will go to New York City to work with a crises pregnancy center. Locally, the group has worked with a number of service projects, including Ruth’s Place, Mother Theresa’s Haven, at various soup kitchens and at the Catholic Youth Center.
5th annual Back Mountain Catholic Youth 5K Run results
Top 5 finishers
1. Robert Moulton, 23, Mountain Top, 17:15
2. John Novack, 23, Tunkhannock, 20:12
3. Francis Zelinka, 26, Nanticoke, 22:45
4. Garrett Nickels, 18, Tafton, 24:42
5. Keith Brosious, 45, Falls, 25:44
Male award winners: Overall: Moulton; Novack; Zelinka. Age group winners: 14 & under: 1. Bryan Mario, 25:58; 2. Andrew Young, 26:32; 3. Peter Federici, 28:00. 15-19: 1. Garrett Nickels, 24:42. 20-29: 1. Robert Moulton, 17:16; 2. John Novack, 20:12; 3. Francis Zelinka, 22:45. 30-39: None. Masters division: 40-49: 1. Keith Brosious, 25:44; 2. Larry Radel, 26:56; 3. Martin Federici Jr., 28:02. 50-59: 1. Ed Odonosky, 27:30. 60 & over: 1. Rich Novack, 26:54; 2. Robert Opel, 27:57; 3. Ron Ruda, 31:36.
First male walker to finish: Jeff Knutson, Saylorsburg, 36:44.
Top 3 females
1. Lelena Zelinka, 17, Mountain Top, 27:56
2. Brittany Barbacci, 30, Harveys Lake, 28:17
3. Brianna Brodt, 25, Peckville, 28:30
Female award winners: Overall: Zelinka; Barbacci; Brodt. Age group winners: 14 & under: 1. Brooke Higgins, 41:21. 15-19: 1. Helen Zelinka, 27:56. 20-29: 1. Brianna Brodt, 28:30; 2. Ashlee Ward, 28:40; 3. Jessica Siracuse, 31:19. 30-39: 1. Brittany Barbacci, 28:17. Masters division: 40-49: 1. Melissa James, 29:31; 2. Kelly Gibbons, 37:32; 3. Molly Mulligan, 42:32. 50-59: 1. Irene Ghezzi, 29:02.
First female walker to finish: Teresa Gatusky, Dallas, 47:10.
Sunday: Susquehanna River Runners Fall 8K Run at Susquehanna WarriorTrail, Shickshinny at 9 a.m. Info: Chris Wadas, 570-592-2820.
Sunday, Oct. 25: Wyoming Valley Striders 28th annual Fall Trail (5.5 mile) Run (an age group handicap race), near the boat launch area, at Frances Slocum State Park, Kingston Twp., at noon. Info: Vince Wojnar, 570-474-5363.
Sunday, Nov. 1: Jewish Community Center of Wyoming Valley’s Benjamin August Memorial 3 Mile Run/Walk at the JCC, S. River St., Wilkes-Barre at 10:30 a.m. Info: Bill Buzza, 570-208-0264, ext. 232.
Sunday, Nov. 8: Wyoming Valley Striders 20K Run at Lehigh Gorge State Park, White Haven at 9 a.m. Info: Vince Wojnar, 570-474-5363.