By Greg Klein
The Daily Star
---- — ONEONTA — It was locals only on top of the 2012 Pit Run.
Cooperstown’s Josh Edmonds became the first local 10-kilometer men’s champion since 1995 and fellow Otsego County resident Amanda LoPiccolo of Oneonta won her second women’s 10K title in three years during the 19th annual road race Sunday.
Delaware County swept the 5K titles as Eli Townsend of Delhi won his first men’s crown and Julie Hilson of Bovina Center earned her third at the Pit Run, named for Oneonta native Ricky “Pit” Parisian, a New York State Trooper who died while trying to stop an armed robbery in 1994.
“It is great to see,” LoPiccolo said of the first area sweep since the 5K became part of the Pit Run in 2006. “It is great for the local runners. Last year we both lost to the same group of runners.”
Cooperstown graduate Edmonds and Unatego graduate LoPiccolo finished second to Ethiopians Fikadu Lemma and Alemtsehay Misganaw, respectively, last year. Neither returned to defend their titles.
“You get to the starting line and you see they aren’t there and it helps a little,” said LoPiccolo, who won the 2010 women’s 10K. Misganaw won four straight titles (2006-09) but didn’t show up in 2010. “I think it lowers the pressure. Your nerves go down a little bit, you relax and you’re able to just go out there and run.”
The 2006 Daily Star Male Track Athlete of the Year,
Edmonds finished in 31 minutes, 57 seconds to beat Syracuse resident Patrick Geoghegan by 54 seconds. Edmonds was two seconds off his time in 2011, when he finished 30 seconds behind Lemma.
“Last year, (Lemma) made a move early and I wasn’t able to counter it,” Edmonds said. “This year, I was able to get ahead.”
Edmonds, 24, said the key to his victory came on Bugbee Hill, the steepest and most grueling part of the course.
“It was the hill,” said Edmonds, the first local man to win the 10K since Gary Toombs of Oneonta took the crown in 1995. “I live in a hilly area. I know all about hill running. Don’t get me wrong, I can run flats, too, but I do well on the hills.”
Bugbee Hill also played a major part in LoPiccolo’s run, although not really in terms of winning the title. LoPiccolo said her husband, Oneonta State cross country and track coach Matt LoPiccolo, caught her on the way down.
Amanda LoPiccolo, 29, chased her husband the rest of the way en route to an 11th-place overall finish in 37:51 – 26 seconds and two places behind Matt.
“I was ahead of him going up the hill,” Amanda LoPiccolo said. “He’s one of the best downhill runners I know. That’s where he passed me.”
Amanda LoPiccolo seemed anything but upset, though.
“He beat his time from last year by more than a minute,” she said of Matt, who finished 13th two years ago and 14th last year; Amanda has placed 11th overall the last three years. “I am thrilled for him.”
Amanda LoPiccolo said she and Matt ran without a plan this year.
“I don’t think we had any specific strategy,” said Amanda, who was paced by Matt en route to the 2010 title. “I just felt good out there. My time was a little slower than last year, but I was able to maintain my pace. I felt strong.”
Amanda LoPiccolo, who is a chiropractor and also volunteers for her husband’s teams, beat Murphee Hayes of Marathon by more than two minutes. Hayes finished 21st overall and second in the women’s 10K in 39:57.
Townsend, 34, said Bugbee Hill was the key to his first 5K championship, too.
“Not running the 10K, that was my secret,” Townsend said while smiling. “I think not having to go up that hill was key. That is a tough hill.”
Townsend said he didn’t know he was going to win until the courses separated.
“You don’t really know how you’re doing since you’re all running in a group,” he said. “It wasn’t until the 5K runners split off that I knew I was in the lead.”
A 1996 Delhi graduate who ran for SUNY Delhi and SUNY Cortland, Townsend said he felt prepared for his first Pit Run.
“It was my first time, but I’ve been running a long time,” he said. “I ran in high school and I ran in college. I’ve been training for this. It felt good to compete again.”
Townsend finished in 18:09, 26 seconds ahead of runner-up Chris Herbs of Rexford. Charles Hollister of Cooperstown finished third at 19:08.
“I was expecting it to be much colder,” Townsend said. “I got out here and it was warmer than I thought. I started shedding layers.”
Hilson, 41, won her first women’s 5K title since back-to-back victories in 2007 and 2008. She placed 12th overall in 21:22 – 57 seconds ahead of 2011 champion Katrina Clark. Unatego soccer standout Clark, 17, finished 21st overall for the second straight year, improving from 22:55 as the 2011 champion to 22:19 as the 2012 runner-up.
Nearly 900 runners turned out for the Pit Run as 448 completed the 10K and 447 finished the 5K.
The top runners from the law-enforcement field also were honored.
Melissa Swislosky of Mount Upton and Kurtis Breed of Oneonta earned the best finishes among New York State troopers. Swislosky, 41, finished 61st (44:53) and Breed, 27, placed 71st (45:31).
The top non-trooper officers were Brian Fitzpatrick of Staten Island and Danielle Olsen of Germantown, Md. Fitzpatrick, 28, placed 53rd (44:10) and Olsen, 27, was 201st (53:59).