PARKERSBURG-Morgantown's Aubrey Moskal is accustomed to having success in running, but even the recent West Virginia University graduate was surprised when she was announced as the top American female finisher at the 27th News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
"I was?" Moskal exclaimed. "I didn't even think I'd finish in the top 10, let alone win it."
Moskal, who graduated in May with a Masters degree in Elementary Education and a Bachelor's degree in Multi-Disciplinary Studies, finished fourth overall in the women's race with a time of 1 hour, 17 minutes and 45.6 seconds to edge out Charlotte, North Carolina's Stephanie Pezzullo (1:18:32.7) for the top spot among the American finishers.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Aubrey Moskal of Morgantown was the first American female to cross the finish line on Saturday at the News and Sentinel Half Marathon.
"This is actually my first half," said the winner. "I ran my first road race in Clarksburg, but this was my first attempt at this distance. I'm really excited with my time. Right now, everything is a little surprising so I'm not exactly sure what to say."
Distance, however, is nothing new to the Morgantown native.
Moskal was a standout performer at Morgantown High where she earned all-state in cross country as a freshman and finished among the top 15 in the Class AAA division all four years as a Mohigan.
She also earned all-state honors in the 800 meter run and the 4 by 800 meter relay as a senior.
Most of her success for the Mountaineers came on the track. She achieved a career-best 10:38.62 in the 3,000-meter steeplechase and placed 11th at the Larry Ellis Invitational.
The time was fifth among the top steeplechase efforts in WVU history.
Taking some advice from former Doddridge Countyand WVU standout Clara Grandt as well as Mountaineers' head coach Sean Cleary, Moskal started the 13.1-mile race slowly. But, by the midway point,she has climbed into the lead group and then overtook Kenyan Divina Jepkogie and Pezzullo over the final five miles to take home the $1,000 prize for finishing fourth overall and another $1,000 for being the first American runner.
"She (Moskal) gets both," Race Director Chip Allman said. "The American money is separate for what we award for the overall placers, so she will get both checks."
Moskal's performance was also good enough to lay claim to the First West Virginian prize. Pezzullo's runner-up effort earned the 31-year old $500. Third place went to 27-year old Gretchen McDonough from Lewisburg, who finished in a time of 1:28:9.2.
Slusser, who won the division in 2005 (1:23.14) and 2011 (1:31.34) covered the course in 1 hour, 30 minutes and 23.3 seconds to defeat runner-up Amy Eddy from Williamstown (1:36:01.7) by nearly six minutes.
"It gets harder and harder ever year and next year will be the toughest because 49 is the worst age," said Slusser, who was competing in the race for the 21st time. "It's kind of like being 39.........."
Parkersburg's Jocelyne Majoy again finished second in the division with a time of 1:40:41.9.