USATF S.C. Long Distance Runners of Year Named

02/02/2018 - 16:25

By Bill Marable, USATF State Record Keeper

Ricky Flynn and Shawanna White have been chosen South Carolina Long Distance Runners of the year by USA Track and Field for 2017. Also chosen were outstanding masters competitors Eric Ashton and Sarah Allers.

While putting his main focus for the year on triathlons, Ricky Flynn still managed to compete in many of the state’s top road races winning 8 of 14 events. The best victories for the 30-year-old Greenville athlete came at the GHS Half Marathon in 1:06:57, Wine 10K in 30:51, Lake Murray Dam Run 10K in 30:25 and Charleston-James Island Connector Run 10K in 30:34. In other major races he was sixth at the Reedy River Run 10K in 31:40 and sixth at the Jailbreak 5K in 15:16. Outside of the South Carolina he had a runner-up finish at the Richmond Marathon in 2:22:05. His best performance came at the Icy Hot Ironman 70.3 World Championship Triathlon in Chattanooga, TN winning the 30-34 age group and placing second amateur overall.

The Rockville, MD native truly began competitive running with cross country in high school and won the 2003 Maryland State Championship. At Division III Lynchburg (VA) College he was a 7 time All-America in cross country and indoor and outdoor track winning the 2009 National Cross Country title. After earning an MBA he burst on the national scene placing 12th at the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in 2:13:41. His family revolves around running as his mother, Debbie, is one of South Carolina’s top masters competitors and his brother, Brian, is the director of cross country and track and field at Bridgewater (VA) College. Sponsorship and guidance comes from Rick Kattouf with Team Kattouf on his new triathlon career. He works for the Greenville Health System as a medical appliance technician. In winning this award he was selected over Michael Banks, Brett Morley, Ryan Root and Austin Steagall.

As prolific racer, Shawanna White, competed in 28 events in South Carolina alone, winning 17 of them. In all, she ran 51 races, sometimes more than one in a day, setting personal records at five distances. The 38-year-old physical education teacher scored her biggest win at the Lake Murray Dam Run 10K in 36:04. Other victories came at the Heart and Sole Women’s 5 Mile in 30:07, Day Break 10 Mile in 1:01:10, Run Hard Lexington Half Marathon in 1:21:08 and Run Hard Columbia Marathon in 2:56:47.

Outside of South Carolina she won the Rocket City Marathon in Huntsville, AL with a PR of 2:49:26, and sete another personal best time of 1:19:09 at the Magic City Half Marathon in Birmingham, AL. To get closer to her boyfriend Orinthal Striggles, a two time SC Runner of the Year, she moved from the Atlanta area to Columbia 3½ years ago. She teaches in St. Matthews in Calhoun County. Her running career started in tenth grade where her highlight was a fifth place finish in the 800 meters at the 3A state meet. At the University of West Georgia she was the only women’s cross county athlete in history to earn All-Gulf South Conference in all four seasons. Support comes from the Greenville Running Company and Skechers Performance along with her coach, family and friends. Those runners she won this award over for a second straight year were Kathryn Lazarchick, Alison Parris, Kimberly Ruck and Michelle Ziegler.

What felt like a subpar year to Eric Ashton was judged differently by others as he wins his fifth masters award to go along with his 15 open awards. The 49-year-old Columbia resident competed in 26 races, winning nine overall titles with 21 masters victories and going undefeated in the 45-49 age group. His best performance came in the state’s biggest race, the Cooper River Bridge Run 10K, winning his age group in 33:26. He turned in fast times in taking the overall title at the Daniel Island 5K in 16:03 and the Run Hard Columbia Half Marathon in 1:16:08. Big masters victories came at the Jailbreak 5K in 16:20, Wine 10K in 33:57, Long Run 15K in 53:28, Lake Murray Dam Run 10K in 33:56 and the Charlie Post Classic 15K in 51:09. Although he did not set any state records during the year, he currently holds five records in the 45-49 age group with a total of nine overall dating back to 1992. This is all accomplished while working a demanding job as an orthopedic physician assistant for the past 17 years at the Lexington Medical Center for the Southeastern Orthopedics and Sport Medicine. His wife, Sara, is one of the top runners in the state whose brother Andy Powell is an accomplished cross country and track coach at the University of Oregon. Self coached, he leans heavily on his college coach and mentor Dr. Jack Hazen of Malone University and on orthopedic surgeon Dr. Evan Ekman. With a masters in exercise physiology from the University of South Carolina he applies the knowledge that he received from Dr. Russ Pate and Dr. Larry Durstine. The other runners he beat out for this award were Marc Embler, Dennis Funk, George Luke and Karl Walsh.

Despite having multiple setbacks from injuries and illness, Sarah Allers, still consistently won her in age group and finished the year strong. In 17 South Carolina races for the 57-year-old Columbia resident, she had three overall victories, ten masters wins, and age group titles in all but one event. Her fastest 5K came at the Turkey Day Run with a 20:53 clocking. At the Run with the Saints 5K she ran 20:54. Charleston’s Reindeer Run 5K was her best masters win in 21:11. At longer distances, she won her age group at the Kiawah Island Half Marathon in 1:38:47. In high school in England, along with playing other sports, she was sprinter in track holding schools records for 100, 200 and 400 meters. As a member of the Oxford City Athletic Club, she trained on the Iffley Road track where Roger Bannister ran the first sub-4-minute mile. After coming to the United States at age 19 she took up distance running. Her top accomplishment came at age 35 in 1996 when she qualified for the US Olympic Marathon Trials held in Columbia by running 2:46:34. She is a member of the Columbia Running Club and competes for Fleet Feet Sports Racing Team. Mostly self coached, she has been greatly helped by former South Carolina runner of the year Orinthal Striggles and Anthony Famiglietti, two-time Olympic steeplechaser. Her main support comes from her husband and training partner, Eric, as they have run thousand of miles together. A licensed massage therapist, she has her own business called Massage Works and treats runners and all sorts of other athletes. The other contenders for this award were Ruth Marie Embler, Debbie Flynn, Mary Mauldin and Susi Smith.



Ricky Flynn 53

Michael Banks 34

Brett Morley 9

Austin Steagall 8

Ryan Root 1


Shawanna White 82

Kathryn Lazarchick 13

Kimberly Ruck 9

Michelle Ziegler 3


Eric Ashton 46

Marc Embler 31

George Luke 21

Dennis Funk 3

Karl Walsh 3

Orinthal Striggles 2


Sarah Allers 63

Ruth Marie Embler 25

Susi Smith 10

Debbie Flynn 3

Mary Mauldin 3



1986 - David Branch, Travelers Rest

1987 - Jeff Wentworth, Columbia

1988 - Dave Geer, Clemson

1989 - Rob Devlin, Columbia

1990 - Rob Devlin, Columbia

1991 - Steve Kartalia, Pendleton

1992 - Steve Kartalia, Pendleton

1993 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

1994 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

1995 - Selwyn Blake, Columbia

1996 - Selwyn Blake, Columbia

1997 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

1998 - Eric Ashton, Mount Pleasant

1999 - Eric Ashton, Mount Pleasant

2000 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2001 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2002 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2003 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2004 - Orinthal Striggles, Columbia

2005 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2006 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2007 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2008 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2009 - Orinthal Striggles, Elgin

2010 - Neville Miller, Mount Pleasant

2011 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2012 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2013 - Michael Banks, Charleston

2014 - Michael Banks, Charleston

2015 - Brett Morley, Landrum

2016 - Brett Morley, Greenville

2017 - Ricky Flynn, Greenville


1986 - Marcia Mansur, Columbia

1987 - Nancy Grayson, Columbia

1988 - Nancy Grayson, Columbia

1989 - Nancy Grayson, Columbia

1990 - Nancy Grayson, Columbia

1991 - Maggie Kraft, Columbia

1992 - Maggie Kraft, Columbia

1993 - Kathy Kanes, Charleston

1994 - Kathy Kanes, Columbia

1995 - Mary Ellen Kelly, Columbia

1996 - Mary Ellen Kelly, Columbia

1997 - Mary Ellen Kelly, Columbia

1998 - Tracy Center, Greenville

1999 - Janice Addison, Columbia

2000 - Janice Addison, Columbia

2001 - Janice Addison, Columbia

2002 - Janice Addison, Columbia

2003 - Janice Addison, Columbia

2004 - Anne Wyman Cipolla, Charleston

2005 - Donna Anderson, Pawleys Island

2006 - Maggie Chan-Roper, Shaw Air Force Base

2007 - Amanda Cannon, Fountain Inn

2008 - Maggie Chan-Roper, Shaw Air Force Base

2009 - Sopagna Eap, Johns Island

2010 - Kristi Arledge, Simpsonville

2011 - Rives Poe, Charleston

2012 - Amy McDonaugh, Irmo

2013 - Caitlin Judd, Charleston

2014 - Caitlin Judd, Charleston

2015 - Caitlin Batten, North Charleston

2016 - Shawanna White, Columbia

2017 - Shawanna White, Columbia


1986 - Michael McGuiness, West Columbia

1987 - Lansing Brewer, Camden

1988 - Bob Schlau, Charleston

1989 - Lansing Brewer, Camden

1990 - Bob Schlau, Charleston

1991 - Gerry Carner, Clemson

1992 - Bob Schlau, Charleston

1993 - Bob Schlau, Charleston

1994 - Bob Schlau, Charleston

1995 - Dave Geer, Clemson

1996 - Mark Friedrich, Isle of Palms

1997 - Lansing Brewer, Camden

1998 - Gerry Carner, Clemson

1999 - Dave Geer, Clemson

2000 - Ervin Reid, Campobello

2001 - Avery Goode, Jr., Rock Hill

2002 - Ervin Reid, Campobello

2003 - Steve Annan, Mount Pleasant

2004 - Selwyn Blake, Columbia

2005 - Gerry Carner, Clemson

2006 - Tom Mather, Mount Pleasant

2007 - Steve Annan, Mount Pleasant

2008 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2009 - Ed Hughes, Greenville

2010 - George Luke, Greenville

2011 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2012 - Marc Embler, Folly Beach

2013 - Marc Embler, North Charleston

2014 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2015 - Marc Embler, North Charleston

2016 - Eric Ashton, Columbia

2017 - Eric Ashton, Columbia


1986 - Margaret Wright, Folly Beach

1987 - Margaret Wright, Folly Beach

1988 - Gail Bailey, Charleston

1989 - Libby Neely, Fort Mill

1990 - Pat Rhode, Walterboro

1991 - Nancy Grayson, Columbia

1992 - Catherine Lempesis, Columbia

1993 - Catherine Lempesis, Columbia

1994 - Nonie Hudnall, Spartanburg

1995 - Dian Ford, Piedmont

1996 - Catherine Lempesis, Columbia

1997 - Nonie Hudnall, Spartanburg

1998 - Betty Ryberg, Aiken

1999 - Marge Hoffman, Salem

2000 - Dian Ford, Piedmont

2001 - Marge Hoffman, Salem

2002 - Marge Hoffman, Salem

2003 - Janice Addison, Columbia

2004 - Janice Addison, Columbia

2005 - Dian Ford, Piedmont

2006 - Dian Ford, Piedmont

2007 - Donna Anderson, Pawleys Island

2008 - Lisa Tolley, Seneca

2009 - Dian Ford, Piedmont

2010 - Susi Smith, Greenville

2011 - Kristi Arledge, Simpsonville

2012 - Ruth Marie Embler, Folly Beach

2013 - Ruth Marie Embler, North Charleston

2014 - Dian Ford, Piedmont

2015 - Dian Ford, Piedmont & Kerry Robinson, Meggett

2016 - Kerry Robinson, Meggett

2017 - Sarah Allers, Columbia


Eric Allers, Columbia

Sarah Allers, Columbia

Steve Annan, Mount Pleasant

Cole Atkins, Greenville

Esther Atkins, Greenville

Chris Bailey, Charleston

Michael Banks, Charleston

Larry Bates, Columbia

Caitlin Batten, North Charleston

Irv Batten, North Charleston

Mark Bedenbaugh, West Columbia

Michael Beeson, Clemson

Caron Blackwelder, Spartanburg

Selwyn Blake, Columbia

Gary Bolduc, Ridgeville

William Boulter, Charleston

David Bourgeois, Summerville

Jeff Brandenburg, Columbia

Anne Brooks, Salem

Mike Caldwell, Greenville

Gerry Carner, Clemson

Josh Cashman, Greenville

Mike Chodnicki, Summerville

Anne Wyman Cipolla, Charleston

Steve Comer, Charleston

Lee Cook, Greer

Amanda Cooley, Fountain Inn

Mary Claire Cox, Columbia

Nancy Curry, Mount Pleasant

Jeremey Davis, Greenville

Sunday Davis, Piedmont

Tami Dennis, Isle of Palms

Dolyne Divino, Hanahan

Pam Drafts, Beaufort

Marc Embler, North Charleston

Ruth Marie Embler, North Charleston

Arnold Floyd, Hartsville

Debbie Flynn, Cross Hill

Ricky Flynn, Greenville

Dian Ford, Piedmont

Mark Friedrich, Isle of Palms

Dennis Funk, Greer

Dave Geer, Clemson

Philippe Giguere, Simpsonville

Tony Glaser, Summerville

Shannon Godby, Columbia

Linn Hall, Columbia

Sandi Hardaway, Greenville

Iris Hill, Charleston

Catherine Hollister, Mount Pleasant

Henry Holt, Lexington

Nonie Hudnall, Spartanburg

Cedric Jaggers, Rock Hill

Cherry Kent, Charleston

Rob Kriegshaber, Columbia

Jennifer Kryzanowski, Lexington

Catherine Lempesis, Irmo

Erin Leonard, Charleston

Thomas Long, Rock Hill

Ken Lowden, Columbia

Cindy Lucking, Greer

George Luke, Greenville

Richard Lyons, Greenville

Jim Madden, Goose Creek

John Massey, Mount Pleasant

Geary McAlister, Rock Hill

Gary Melville, Charleston

Joy Miller, Beaufort

Jeanna Moffett, Columbia

Brett Morley, Greenville

Chris Muenzer, Irmo

Joan Mulvihill, Charleston

Scott Murr, Greenville

Rives O’Connell, Folly Beach

Judy Phelps, Myrtle Beach

Lori Pope, Charleston

Al Rampey, Greenville

Ray Renner, Columbia

Kerry Robinson, Meggett

Susan Rogers, Spartanburg

Eric Roush, Greer

Kimberly Ruck, Greenville

Bob Schlau, Charleston

Daniel Shaughnessy, Hilton Head Island

Matt Shock, Greenville

Jesse Smarr, Columbia

Susi Smith, Greenville

Bill Spoor, Daniel Island

Laura Stepp, Columbia

Tim Stewart, Simpsonville

Coleen Strasburger, Columbia

Orinthal Striggles, Columbia

George Sykes, Spartanburg

Andy Tedesco, Hilton Head Island

Billy Tisdale, Sumter

Stephanie Tiwari, Greenville

Jack Todd, Spartanburg

Jay Upchurch, Charleston

Ben Vaughn, Greenville

Carol Wallace, Blythewood

Judy Walls, Piedmont

Paula Walmet, Mount Pleasant

Karl Walsh, Mount Pleasant

Bob Walton, Charleston

David Watson, Summerville

Billy Webster, Spartanburg

Joyce Welch, Lexington

Shawanna White, Columbia

Tom Wild, Anderson

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