An elite group of middle school students reached celebrity status Thursday afternoon. Clad in gym clothes, still struggling to catch their breath from a final sprint, winners of Perry Hall Middle School's annual mile-long Turkey Trot were heroes of their class.
Among hundreds of participants, the fastest 10 boys and girls from each grade level won a T-shirt and the first-place winners in each group won a Thanksgiving turkey. All participating students were entered into raffles for pies and other prizes after the race.
"I'll be eating good for Thanksgiving, I'll tell you that," said Donte Cloude Jr., who won first among sixth grade boys. "My dad's always hard on me when I run. I won it for him."
Donte, like the other winners, attributed his speed to several years of playing rec sports.
Nick Richardson, winner among seventh grade boys, who plays baseball and basketball, said he repeated to himself, "Just run," over every hill and curve in the course.
Brandon Subock, winner among eighth grade boys, said he tried to maintain a sprint the entire race. "It's all about endurance," he said.
Brandon's father, Dana Subock, added his approval: "It's amazing what he can do."
Many students were joined by their parents at the finish line.
Madeline Greul's father's eyes filled with tears as his daughter won among the seventh grade girls. A soccer player, she plans to compete in a 5K on Thanksgiving Day in Towson, in which she placed eighth for her age group last year.
"I don't know where she gets it. I'm always very proud of her," her father Mark Greul said.
Hannah Becker, winner among eighth grade girls, said she almost decided to slow down after one of her best friends had trouble with her ankle. But her friend pushed her to move forward even faster. "I just kept going," she said.
Winner among sixth grade girls Aleah Nelson said it was the cheers that motivated her to push even harder toward the finish—especially the cheers from the boys she was passing.
"Everyone was like, 'Oh my gosh, you're a girl and you're fast as the boys.' Everyone was cheering for me. It helped me keep my head up," Aleah said. "I'm just happy to run."1st Place Winners Boys Girls 6th Grade Donte Cloude Jr. Aleah Nelson 7th Grade Nick Richardson Madeline Greul 8th Grade Brandon Subock Hannah Becker
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