In honor of South Florida State College’s 50th Anniversary year, the sixth annual Panther 5K Run/Walk added a 50-mile bike ride.

Sixth Annual Panther 5K Run/Walk Adds 50-Mile Bike Ride


AVON PARK, Fla.–March 9, 2015–South Florida State College’s sixth annual Panther 5K Run/Walk had a dual purpose on Saturday: raising money for the college’s athletics programs and celebrating its 50th anniversary.

To make the anniversary celebration unique, this year’s event gave participants the choice of taking part in the 5K run/walk around the scenic Highlands Campus or making a 50-mile bike ride from the Highlands Campus to the Lake Placid Center and back.

Thirty-two cyclists chose to take part in the inaugural bike ride, which left at 7:30 a.m. The Panther 5K Run/Walk began at 8 a.m. with 168 runners and walkers embarking on a route from the SFSC University Center, past the Tower of Enlightenment mural and the Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr. Health and Science Education Center, then down College Drive to Memorial Drive – and back again by way of the SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts.

The run/walk attracted everyone from children in strollers, who were pushed around the course by moms and dads, to runners in their 70s and 80s, as well as a few canine companions. SFSC’s mascot Pete the Panther greeted 5K fans and encouraged tired runners as they approached the end of the course.

The 5K race and 50-mile bike ride were organized by the SFSC Foundation, Inc. James Broen, professor of biology and chemistry, was instrumental in organizing the bike ride.


Panther 5K runners and walkers start the race in front of the University Center.

Donald Appelquist, executive director of the SFSC Foundation, led cyclists on the college’s first 50-mile bike ride. “The bike ride was a wonderful success, with 32 riders ranging in age from 9 to 75. The temperature was perfect, but wind was a challenge, at least for some of us.  We rode from the Highlands Campus in Avon Park to the Lake Placid Center, where we took a rest break, and back.  I think everyone had a good time, and most are hoping that we’ll do it again next year.”

The Panther 5K Run/Walk was equally successful in providing a fun day for families and in showing off college in its 50th year, said Rick Hitt, the college’s athletic director and head baseball coach. “The sixth annual 5K was a great success, thanks to all who participated and to our gracious sponsors. We look forward to the 2016 5K with great anticipation.”

The SFSC Panther 5K Run/Walk and 50-Mile Bike Ride were sponsored by the Jarrett Family Foundation, MIDFLORIDA Credit Union, State S­enator Denise Grimsley, Florida Hospital Heartland, Bike Shop, Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel, Dr. Patrice Holman Nelson, Wauchula State Bank, Cliff Ables, Donald Appelquist, Association of Florida Colleges, Dr. Deborah Fuschetti, David and Michelle Leidel, Winn-Dixie Super Markets, and Joe Wright.

Panther 5K Run/Walk Finalists

Results from the sixth annual Panther 5K Run/Walk, held on Saturday at the SFSC Highlands Campus, are as follows:

  • Male Open Winner: Dylan Branch, age 13, 18:29.8
  • Female Open Winner: Zoe Wortinger, age 10, 20:53.5         
  • Male Masters Winner: Chris Doty, age 45, 21:44.1                                                                  
  • Female Masters Winner: Aleesa White, age 42, 24:34.9
  • Male Grand Masters Winner: Jim Recto, age 74, 27:02.9
  • Female Grand Masters Winner: Bettye Hart, age 63, 34:38.7

Female Finalists

Age Eight and Under: first, Jamilynn Davidson, 34:37.8; Age 9-11: first, Kinsley White, 23:26.1, second, Cariyn Bobo, 24:03.4, and third, Jazmine White, 42:31.7; Age 12-14: first, Vedi Persad, 28:42.6, second, Katelyn Van Fleet, 34:28.0, and third, Sarah True, 35:59.9; Age 15-19: first, Savannah Oldfield, 27:26.1; second, Julia Van Fleet, 28:27.0, and third, Jessica Sturgill, 32:50.9; Age 20-24: first, Breighly Bolton, 25:48.7, and second, Josephine Walker, 40:20.4; Age 25-29: first, Brittani Loury, 25:51.2, second, Jennifer Conerly, 31:45.8, and third, Maria Diaz, 41:29.1; Age 30-34: first, Summer Laye, 27:47.3, second, Leah Seyer, 36:22.6, and third, Cara Ward, 39:01.1; Age 35-39: first, Stephanie White, 23:28.2, second, Heather Esquibel, 28:12.1, and third, Trisha Johnson, 31:41.1; Age 40-44: first, Theresa Juliano, 24:38.5, second, Christine Gilbert, 27:16.9, and third, Stacy Clark-LaMorte, 28:39.3; Age 45-49: first, Karin Doty, 26:45.1, second, Elaine Daff, 28:08.7, and third, Dana O’Rourke, 30:01.1; Age 50-54: first, Lisa Foster, 25:48.8, second, Lynn Reasoner, 28:46.7, and third, Brenda Johnston, 36:26.3; Age 55-59: first, Maureen Olson, 28:09.0, second, Martie Brooker, 29:48.2, and third, Shirley Whitsitt, 37:09.1; Age 60-64: first, Ann Frakes, 34:46.3, and second, Dawn Pisarski, 50:10.3; Age 65-69: first, Mary Ann Henry, 42:24.6, second, Deborah Fuschetti, 43:31.5, and third, Sharon Wright, 1:03:39.3; Age 70-74: first, Nancy Dale, 38:20.4; Age 75-79: first, Lois Hotchkiss, 37:08.7, and second, Audrey Smith, 40:46.6.

Male Finalists

Age Eight and Under: first, Austin Ulm, 26:23.3, second, Connor McDaniel, 26:57.3, and third, Brooker Revell, 27:27.8; Age 9-11: first, Zachary Van Fleet, 21:38.0, and second, Christopher Garrison, 41:33.0; Age 12-14: first, Chase Doty, 20:49.3, and second, Keegan White, 20:53.0; Age 15-19: first, Trevor Doty, 19:45.4, and second, Michael DiVietro, 28:02.8; Age 25-29: Ian Naylor, 24:21.3, and second, Joseph Vincent, 40:25.6; Age 30-34: first, Jeremy Vincent, 24:48.4; Age 35-39: first, John McDaniel, 21:34.1, second, Shane White, 23:15.6, and third, Shannon Peacock, 23:41.1; Age 40-44: first, Robert Lusby, 29:00.6, and second, John Collier, 41:52.0; Age 45-49: first, Steve Ashworth, 28:02.3, and second, Lynn Phelps, 49:43.2; Age 55-59: first, Joe Wright, 25:24.6, second, Ken Olson, 31:23.1, and third, Robert Johnston, 35:25.9; Age 60-64: first, Randy Severn, 27:27.3, and second, Ken Broekema, 41:00.4; Age 65-69: first, Charlie Potter, 28:25.9, second, Roderick Matthews, 29:59.8, and third, Kenny Vincent, 38:52.3; Age 75-79: first, Harold Smith, 31:32.5; and Age 80 and Over: first, Ken Filppula, 45:13.5.