Photos contributed by Don Tipton
Seemingly each year during the Erin L. Nance Fall Distance Classic, something special happens.
This past Saturday was no exception on the picturesque course.
On Saturday, a plethora of high school and middle school runners participated in the annual cross country meet. It has been held for decades, but in 1998 it took on a more profound meaning as Erin was lost as a result of a car accident. Father Terry and his wife/Erin’s mother Connie carry on the legacy of their daughter by continuing this meet in her name.
Last year the event could not take place due to COVID-19 restrictions.
This year it came back in style.
On this day, a special light shone on Nico Ranalli, a student at Sunbury Big Walnut Middle School.
The seventh grader finished fifth overall with several eyes watching him. The most notable may have been from his aunt Erin high above.
Nico is the son of Erin’s sister Amy, as well as the grandson of Terry and Connie. His participation in the race honoring his aunt is just another way this event makes special memories.
And there are several other ways that enable the legacy to continue – through a modest display honoring Erin as people arrive at the course, a letter sent to the team’s participating outlining the race’s meaning, and personal words of encouragement by Terry and Connie to each group of runners seconds before they begin their race.
While the event meaning and picturesque backdrop bring in several teams, it is always especially important to schools in the local area.
The London High School girls earned third place in Division II/II. They had five runners finish in the Top 20, led by Alex Tewalt in eighth. The others were Lily Patterson, Riley Colestock, Andria Pollazek, and Isabelle Tipton. Kate Slane also ran for LHS. The team earned the Pack Award.
The LHS boys finished in fourth place as a team (in Division II/III), with Jimmy Brayshaw (12th) placing highest for the Red Raiders. He was followed by Owen Howe, Brady Cahill, Derek Elfrink, and Aidan Bower.
For Madison-Plains High School, they had three runners total in the varsity races. For the boys, it was Andrew Geyer. Amy Burchett and Paisley Rice ran for the girls.
Many middle schoolers also participated.
The London Middle School boys finished fourth overall as a team, paced by Matthew Dwyer in eighth and Eli Noble in 12th place. They were followed by Griffin Lofton, Myles Kramer, Thomas Herman, Caelan Mars, Grant McCoy, Kaleb Long, Wyatt Napper, and Jack Peters. Patrick Madden and Johnny Grigsby ran for the Golden Eagles.
The LMS girls team had he following runners – Gracie Howe, Ashley Nolan, Rachel Jackman, Josie Ruble, Julia Mullins, and Alaia Legrand.
Also participating from Madison County were members of Darby Creek Buffalos, a club team which included in part some West Jefferson athletes. High school students included La Tayisha Noble and Sam Messer, while middle schoolers were Tucker Phipps and Ethan Roberts.
As usual, volunteers galore dotted the parking area and at various spots on the Country Club grounds. They include Erin’s teammates/friends, as well as other people who have been touched in various ways by the Nance family.