The Chattanooga Track Club

Promoting Running and Fitness in Chattanooga

Clemons, Croft claim Symphony Classic 5K titles
Posted: Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The late Dale Goff must have made a lasting impression on the folks at Lee University.

Goff was a vice president at the Cleveland, Tennessee school who died earlier this year. He was a positive role model for all who knew him, so it was only natural for many of his friends and family to follow in his footsteps.

At least 50 or so such persons gathered at Coolidge Park on Saturday, September 17 to participate in the 17th Annual Symphony Classic 5K road race. They all wore t-shirts made just for the occasion with Mr. Goff's picture on the front.

Johnny Clemons, a former cross country standout for the Flames who now serves as an assistant coach, honored his former mentor by winning the 3.1-mile race that was flat, fast and an out-and-back loop through Heritage Landing.

The blond, 28-year-old broke from the starting line with winning on his mind. He grabbed the lead almost immediately and never slowed down, crossing the finish line in 15 minutes, 55 seconds.

Geno Phillips was the runner-up in 16:03 while Triston Reese outlasted Steve Bontekoe for third, Reese crossing in 17:06 and Bontekoe 20 seconds later. Joe Sneed posted a time of 17:38 for the fifth position.

Jennifer Croft paced the women's field as she won with a time of 19:24, which was 19th in the field that totaled 204 finishers. 20-year-old Ashley Timmer was a distant second, finishing 38th overall in 20:53 while Stacy Guess was the third female and 39th overall in 20:59.

Brittany Evans and Rachel Wilson completed the top five women with times of 21:04 and 22:03, respectively. Evans was 43rd overall while Wilson was 56th.

Clemons has a 5K personal best of 14:27. He finished the Boston Marathon in April with a time of 2:53, which is impressive given the fact that he was running with a broken toe.

After some time off this summer, he's working hard to get back into racing shape.

"This was my first race in quite a while and I just tried to run under control the whole way. I was hoping to get under 16 minutes. I liked this course as it was nice, but I wish I could have run it before the race. There were quite a few of us here today from Lee as we all made a commitment to fitness in memory of Dale Goff," Clemons said just minutes after crossing the finish line.

Croft is another former cross country standout at UT-Chattanooga who is trying to get back in racing shape after some time off. She's been doing some serious training, but she didn't like the results in this race.

"I'm just not racing well right now and I'm not happy about it. When I rounded the bend and saw 19 on the clock, I was mad. I had a pretty good first mile (5:47), but my last mile was horrible.

"I sort of got in no-man's land, but I've got to get more mentally strong. I love this course and running in this neighborhood, but I should have been faster than that," she added.

While Clemons and Croft were the overall winners, Bruce Bayliss and Linda Spencer were the Masters' winners. Bayliss was 13th overall in 18:32 while Spencer's time of 23:16 was 81st overall.

Joe Axley and Amy Mullens were the Grand Masters' winners with times of 19:58 and 25:54, respectively.

Proceeds from the race will benefit and CSO Guild educational projects.


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