BY THE PACKET
Columbus women dominated their division of the 2nd Annual Possum Town Triathlon last Saturday. Compared with the Columbus women, Columbus men were under-represented and turned in weak results. CAFB personnel boosted the local participation level.
The event, featuring a 600-yard swim, a 17-mile bike ride and a 3-mile run, was organized and superintended by Brad Atkins, who is an area triathlon standout but was not able to compete. It was held in and around Columbus Lake and attracted 133 entries (including six three-member relay teams), with competitors coming from all over Mississippi, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Louisiana and from as far away as Utah and North Carolina.
Columbus native Donna Mellott, 50, who now lives in Pass Christian, won the women’s division on the strength of a fast bike ride, in a total time of 1:28:05. She was followed by Possum Towners Michela Patterson, 28, in 1:30:52 and Audrey Goff, 30, in 1:32:39. But the local women’s success
didn’t stop there: 5th place was won by Sarah Radakovich, in 1:36:38 and 6th by 18-year-old Avery Smith of Caledonia. The only top female finisher without a strong Columbus connection was Tina Gregg of Ridgeland, who took 4th place in 1:36:23.
The top three finishers in the men’s division were: John Mooney of Brookhaven, 20, in 1:12:15; Paul Kaufmann of Poplarville, 47, in 1:12:57; and Joe “Super Joe” Giambrone, 46, of Vicksburg in 1:15:29. The top local male finisher was Alan Buss, 44, in 1:24:30; close behind him was another Columbian, Kyle Fried, 26, in 1:24:30. Mooney is a student at Mississippi State University and wants to help establish a triathlon team there.
One exception to the underwhelming collective results of Columbus men was the performance of 16-year-old swimming star Ladd Chain, who beat the field in the 600-yard swim with a time of 7:43 (teen Avery Smith was not far behind with the next-best time, 8:01). Chain was a member of the second-place relay team that also included Danny Drogula (bike) and Jamie Laws (run). Six relay teams competed. Five had all-Columbus
membership and the sixth was an all-Starkville team. First place in the team division went to a team composed of Corky Smith (swim), Roger Larsen (bike) and James Hazard (run). Third place went to the team of Cindy Buob (swim), Louis Mutch (bike) and Andy Boyd (run).
Evangel Church members volunteered to help out at the event and were among many who were inspired by quadriplegic participant John Adam Long. Long, who was severely injured in a automobile wreck several years ago, was able to do the swimming portion of the race with the assistance of close friend J.P. Arnett, and then went on to ride his custom made recumbent cycle through the last two legs. Friends and family of Long said that he has only recently started competing in the races and is among an elite group of about five quadriplegics racers nationwide that have completed a mini-triathlon.