Ivy-League educated Chris Zablocki put to use what he learned a year ago at the same event when he captured the 32nd Annual Little Compton 4.8-mile Road Race Saturday morning.
The 23-year-old Dartmouth College grad who calls Essex, CT, home ran a 4:57 pace in muggy conditions to finish with a time of 23:43. Fellow Nutmegger William Sanders was runner-up with a time of 24:11 while Liam Hillery placed third just three seconds behind Sanders. Defending champ Chase Pizzonia of Bronx, NY, was fourth with a time of 24:29.
“Chase beat me over the last two miles last year,” Zablocki said. “This year I just took it out so there’d be nobody next to me with a mile to go like last year. I won in 2010 then I got second last year. This time I came back not to lose again.”
Zablocki was in front from the outset and did not let up. While he couldn’t drop the others in the lead quartet the rest of the runners never challenged. Fifth-place finisher Luke Perron of West Hartford, CT, finished in 26:28, almost a full two minutes after Pizzonia crossed the line. Some were affected by the humidity and others just weren’t in the same class as the leaders.“I just took it straight from the start line and kept going out,” Zablocki said. “I used to be a teacher in the Marshall Islands and it was like 99 percent humidity there every day so this is nothing. One guy said he started closing the gap at two-and-a-half (miles) then he ran out of energy.”
Sanders, a 25-year-old from Wethersfield, CT, is a familiar opponent for Zablocki. Sanders ran on the University of Connecticut track team and sometimes faced Zablocki in collegiate meets.
“We used to race in college so whenever I see him at the start line I’m always pumped up and saying to myself, ‘He’s not going to beat me,”’ Zablocki said. “He races me almost like every race I go to. Another guy here used to run for Iona (College) and they always had a good team. There’s a lot of good post-collegiate guys coming up here.”
Seems a friendly rivalry is brewing between Zablocki, Sanders and Pizzonia. Zablocki, for one, most assuredly will be back to defend his title again next year.
“This is my favorite course,” said Zablocki. “It’s nice and flat and there’s no hills so you can just go 99 percent effort the whole time and just bring it in.”
The top two women finishers stayed close to each other the entire race with Juliane Masciana finishing with a time of 27:53 compared to Samantha Roecker’s finish time of 27:59. Masciana, from Austin, TX, placed ninth overall while Roecker, from Charlton, NY, was eleventh overall. Helen Dinan of Bellingham, MA, was the third woman and 13th overall finisher with a time of 29:05.
Thirteen of the top 16 finishers had out-of-state addresses on their registration forms. Hillery, from Greenville, Cumberland’s David Constantino (7th, 27:30) and Little Compton’s Joey Maiato (12th, 28:50) were the lone full-time Rhode Islanders in the top 16.
Maiato, a Portsmouth High cross country and track standout, had the best finish for a Little Compton native. Twenty-year-old RJ Wilkie (19th, 29:42) and 53-year-old Dan Murphy (30th, 31:20), who finished second in his age group, rounded out the top three male hometown finishers.
Amy Small was the best female Little Compton runner, finishing in 63rd place overall with a time of 34:34. Kaitlin Lambert (132nd, 38:38) and Cindy Wentworth (150th, 39:20) were second and third among hometown females. Little Compton 14-year-old Bridget Missafer (281st, 45:57) was second in her age bracket. There were 468 runners and walkers registered for the event and 456 who finished.