First timer wins HoD triathlon

By By Marty Stamper/EMG sports assistant
July 25, 2004
PHILADELPHIA One of the big drawing cards of the annual Neshoba County Fair is that it gives people a chance to go back to their roots to visit old friends and relatives.
This year's Heart o' Dixie overall champion Matt Winstead of Huntsville, Ala., made his first trip to the fair Saturday morning, but the journey was not without a notion of coming home as his father, Thomas Winstead, is originally from Philadelphia.
Winstead, 22, had a time of 1:57:19 to edge former professional triathlete James Curwen, 37, of Asheville, N.C., by 50 seconds in the 25th annual running of the race.
In third place was Keith Strudler, 33, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with a time of 1:58:43. Tom Lowery, 41, of Gainesville, Fla., placed fourth with a time of 1:59:45, while 2002 champion John Noblin, 39, of Jackson was fifth with a clocking of 2:01:02.
Winstead is a relative newcomer to the three-sport ordeal. While he wasn't the best swimmer, biker or runner Saturday, he was indeed the day's top triathlete.
Winstead had the second-fastest time in the swim, as he covered the half mile in 10 minutes, 21 seconds. His 24.8 miles-per-hour average over the 27.5-mile bike stage allowed him to build a five-minute lead over the next closest racer to him. However, with the staggered starts entering the water at Lake Tiak-O'Khata, he was actually trailing two other athletes at that point.
Winstead averaged five minutes, 48 seconds per mile for the seven-mile run to take the overall title. His 1:57:19 was the first time below two hours since 2001. Curwen, Strudler and Lowery also beat the two-hour barrier.
Lee Dukes, whose idea it was to have a triathlon as part of the fair after seeing the first Ironman Triathlon while on vacation in Hawaii in late 1979, presented Winstead with the day's top award.
The female champion was Ali Rutledge, 30, of Germantown, Tenn. She had a time of 2:13:05 to edge Joy Johnson, 27, also of Germantown, by a mere 16 seconds.
The third female finisher was Julia Cathcart, 20, of Starkville with a time of 2:17:02.
Amy Bertas, 30, of Pensacola, Fla., was fourth at 2:17:19, while four-time champion Lori Goldweber, 40, of Birmingham, Ala., was fifth with a time of 2:17:50.
A total of 288 individuals and 21 teams completed the race. Bill Greenleaf, 51, of Ridgeland received a special award for being the only athlete to complete the race in each of its 25 years.
DeShon Davis, 34, of Meridian was the top local finisher, as his 2:11:35 was good for 17th place overall.
John David Williams, 30, of Philadelphia made yet another trip to the awards table to collect the Dr. Dickie Nowell Award for being the top Neshoba County finisher. His 2:30:23 was good for 92nd place overall.
Fifteen states were represented with athletes coming from Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Arkansas, North Carolina, New York, Colorado, Texas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Utah and Nevada.
In the team competition, the top female team was Team McMooDel which was composed of Angie DeLeon (swimmer), Amanda McNeil (cyclist) and Laura Leigh Moody (runner).
The top male team was Sons of Thunder which was composed of Daniel Killian, Andy Hoeniges and Rob Oates.
The top mixed team was The Tradition which was composed of Hillary Freeman, Brett Freeman, and Mike Boler.

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