More than 40 runners and walkers took part in Bluefield College’s 10th Annual Jason Elswick Memorial Scholarship 5K Challenge, September 16, with Nathaniel Evans of Kopperston, West Virginia, earning his second straight Elswick 5K title with an overall best time of 17:54.
But, awards and accolades were not all the runners were sprinting for. The participants were also running and walking for scholarships and to preserve the memory of a local college student who lost his life before fulfilling his dream of becoming a schoolteacher.
A Bluefield College junior from Tazewell, Virginia, majoring in math education, Jason Elswick died in a car accident in October 2005. After his death, his parents, David and Pam Elswick of Tazewell, created a scholarship at BC designed to preserve his memory and to continue his legacy by providing scholarship assistance to other teacher education students just like him. The annual Elswick 5K Challenge helps increase awareness and raise funds to support the scholarship, which provides vital assistance to BC students seeking a degree in math education and whose goals are similar to Jason’s.
“Jason was an amazing young man whose life was cut short,” said BC’s Ruth Blankenship, vice president for advancement, “but to make sure his dream of becoming a teacher is carried out through another young man or young woman from southwest Virginia, we have established this scholarship fund to keep his memory alive and to let students know that you’re never forgotten at Bluefield College.”
In this year’s Elswick 5K, Evans outpaced his 2016 performance by 25 seconds to earn back-to-back championships. Joining him among the top three finishers: Kendall Haynes of Cana, Virginia, who placed second overall with a time of 18:26, and Mike Jones of Wytheville, Virginia, who finished third overall with a time of 18:40.
In the women’s division, first place overall went to Keri Quesenberry of Bluefield, Virginia, with a time of 20:36. Erica Morgan of Princeton, West Virginia, won second place overall among the women with a time of 22:04, and Jennifer Stewart of Bluefield, West Virginia, took the women’s third place overall award with a time of 26:48.
“There really are no words to express how grateful we are for all the hard work, kindness and generosity of everyone in supporting Jason’s scholarship,” said Pam Elswick. “The scholarship exists because individuals and businesses come together to help create something good from such a tragedy. We love and miss our son very much and ask that you hold us in your heart and prayers and help us keep Jason’s loving and giving spirit alive.”
Male participants who received awards for the fastest times in their specific age groups included:
– Ages 15-19: Evan Ferrell of Richlands, Virginia, first place 23:04; Chris Short of Bluefield, West Virginia, second place 41:37
– Ages 20-24: Benjamin Helmandollar of Oceana, West Virginia, first place 20:23; Philip Cyrus, of Bluefield, West Virginia, second place 21:51; Gustavo Gomez of Galax, Virginia, third place 25:48
– Ages 25-29: Ryan Thomas of Tazewell, Virginia, first place 20:33 (improving his 2016 performance by 1:04)
– Ages 30-34: Josh Grubb of Max Meadows, Virginia, first place 22:10
– Ages 40-44: Chris Stacy of Bluefield, West Virginia, first place 32:50
– Ages 50-54: Ron Mallory of Princeton, West Virginia, first place 26:51
– Ages 55-59: Jim Simon of Bluefield, West Virginia, first place 21:40 (improving his 2016 performance by 1:27); Tom Kaylor of Bland, Virginia, second place 22:54; Randy Albert of Bluefield, West Virginia, third place 27:42
– Ages 60-64: Randy Tephabock of Rainelle, West Virginia, first place 24:13; Hank Burnley of Princeton, West Virginia, second place 27:45 (improving his 2016 performance by 17 seconds); Randy Lester of Princeton, West Virginia, third place 29:21 (improving his 2016 performance by 1:55)
– Ages 65 and older: Butch Currence of Bluefield, West Virginia, first place 29:00 (at 76 years of age).
“I come back to this every year because it’s for a good cause,” said Currence, whose father, Stubby, was a 50-year veteran sports writer for the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. “I’m retired, and I run to stay in shape. I run in this race to support the college and for the Elswicks.”
Women who achieved awards for the fastest times in their specific age groups were:
– Ages 15-19: Brianna Evans of Bluefield, West Virginia, first place 30:41
– Ages 20-24: Nicole Benedito of Bluefield, Virginia, first place 32:37
– Ages 25-29: Tabatha Robins of Bluefield, Virginia, first place 29:09
– Ages 30-34: Tabi Price of Bluefield, Virginia, first place 31:57 (improving her 2016 performance by 2:28)
– Ages 35-39: K.D. Coleman of Princeton, West Virginia, first place 26:49
– Ages 40-44: Lori Stacy of Bluefield, West Virginia, first place 27:11
– Ages 45-49: Sherelle Morgan of Bluefield, Virginia, first place 31:10
– Ages 50-54: Cheryl Mallory of Princeton, West Virginia, first place 33:33; Jeannie Heatley of North Tazewell, Virginia, second place 36:12; Linda Hamer of Princeton, West Virginia, third place 37:31
Winners in the walkers’ category included:
– Dee Odom of Bluefield, West Virginia, first place overall 36:02; Harold Heatley of North Tazewell, Virginia, second place overall 41:07; Paula Beasley of Bluefield, West Virginia, third place overall 45:00
– Ages 60-64 male: Roger Stacy of North Tazewell, Virginia 45:03
– Ages 14 and under female: Julia Stacy of Bluefield, West Virginia 45:03.
Friends who may not have had the opportunity to participate in this year’s Elswick 5K Challenge, but would still like to contribute to the Elswick legacy with a gift to the scholarship fund may do so by visiting bluefield.edu/giving or by sending a gift to Bluefield College, c/o The Elswick Scholarship Challenge, 3000 College Avenue, Bluefield, Virginia, 24605.
“It is our desire that many students with the same goals and wonderful characteristics as Jason be helped through this scholarship,” the Elswicks said. “It is also our wish that Jason’s memory live on through the lives of the students receiving the scholarship awards.”
JASON ELSWICK MEMORIAL SCHOLARSHIP 5K CHALLENGE 2017
Nearly 40 runners and walkers took part in Bluefield College’s 10th Annual Jason Elswick Memorial Scholarship 5K Challenge, September 16. Photos courtesy of Dr. Tom Brewster.