Ferguson outduels Smeigh in Cordova 5K

Baker surprises everyone, including self, as women’s champ 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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CORDOVA — After the first few strides, Richard Ferguson was in first place.

It’s a position he never relinquished as Ferguson led wire to wire en route to a win in the fourth annual Cordova 5K run/walk on Saturday morning at Cordova School.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Richard Ferguson leads the Cordova 5K field on Saturday morning along Old Cheraw Highway before the right turn onto Sharon Lane.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Richard Ferguson leads the Cordova 5K field on Saturday morning along Old Cheraw Highway before the right turn onto Sharon Lane.

To suggest Ferguson cruised to victory would be inaccurate. As the miles passed, Ferguson sped up, and no one suffered more for it than Neil Smeigh. Smeigh, 32, is a 2001 Richmond Senior High School graduate who returned from his Whiteville home for the race.

Sleigh said he kept Ferguson in sight for the first two miles. In that third mile, “he had a different gear than I did.”

Ferguson finished in an unofficial time of 20 minutes and 43 seconds. Smeigh was second in an unofficial 21:57. Duke Smith was third.

Destani Baker was a surprise winner in the women’s field — even to herself. Long after crossing the finish line, cooling down and grabbing some post-race food while taking a seat under shelter from a light rain, Baker had no idea she’d won until an interview with a PeeDeePost.com reporter. He eyes went wide.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Neil Smeigh had his sights set on the top runner until the third mile. That's when Ferguson took off.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Neil Smeigh had his sights set on the top runner until the third mile. That’s when Ferguson took off.

Baker, 22, of Pinebluff, reflected she could have done better — while at the same time in near shock of her first-ever road race victory.

“I started off running with my aunt,” Baker said, “kinda slow.”

Baker said the pace of the two women don’t match well, and before long, Baker took off. As Baker turned right off Old Cheraw Highway onto Sharon Lane, she was in first — but not by much.

“Yeah, I looked behind me a couple times,” Baker admitted, “to see if I had time to stop. I didn’t, so I kept going.”

Kelly DeLong and Kelly Young were right on Baker’s heels at that point. Over the next two-plus miles, though, their positions didn’t change before the finish line.

There were 51 official 5K finishers, down from 95 the previous year.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Destani Baker leads the women's field on Saturday in the Cordova 5K.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Destani Baker leads the women’s field on Saturday in the Cordova 5K.

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