Uceny stomps at Blueberry 5K
PLYMOUTH – Morgan Uceny was looking for some blueberry donuts. Wasn’t everybody?
But on her way to Centennial Park, Plymouth’s native Olympian took a quick detour down Michigan Street.
It was so quick, in fact, that Uceny ended up winning Monday’s Blueberry Stomp 5,000-meter run.
Thousands of spectators, who were awaiting the start of the Blueberry Festival parade, did a double-take. Then they roared as Uceny – a finalist in the women’s 1,500 meter run during the 2012 Olympics -- surged the last mile of the course.
She clocked 16 minutes, 28.5 seconds. Not first among women … first among everybody.
The 29-year-old Uceny, a two-time national champion, came home 48 seconds ahead of Curtis Nordmann, the first male finisher. Goshen’s Peter Casaletto was third.
“It was fun,” said Uceny. “The last mile I was trying to run as hard as I could. I didn’t just jog it, I was trying to give it a good effort.”
Home for a few days to visit family and get some rest, Uceny decided to run the Stomp, a race she last entered when she was in junior high school.
Then, she headed off with her mom, Brenda, to stand in line for an hour and get a dozen blueberry donuts.
“I’m taking a dozen back to my teammates in Boston,” she said. “That is, if they make it that far.”
Boston is where she lives now, training under coach Terrence Mahon for another shot at the Olympics in 2016. She’s just about done with this season; there’s one road mile yet to go.
It’s been a rough year, but at least she’s healthy. That will mean a lot as Uceny tries to make the US team for the World Championships next year, and then the Olympic Team for Rio.
While she trains and competes all over the world, she never forgets where she’s from.
As the winner of Monday’s 5K, Uceny received a small cash prize. She donated the entire award to The Heminger House, a shelter for abused women and children in Plymouth.
And yes, the approval of her hometown means a lot to her. It does.
“I was running next to a guy (early in Monday’s race) and he said, ‘Gee, I wish I could hear somebody yelling ‘Go Mike!’ instead of ‘Go Morgan!’” she laughed. “Seeing and hearing all these people cheering for me really does make a difference.”
All of which is why -- after a slow start -- she unleashed her full stride along the parade route.
“I actually thought I’d run a little faster, but I wanted to run the first mile conservatively, just get a feel for the race,” she said. “But I was giving it everything I had at the end.”
Another Plymouth native, Daniel Neidlinger, won the Blueberry Stomp 15K that is run in conjunction with the 5K race. He clocked 51:25.3.
Petrana Petkova won the women’s 15K in 1:03.18.