Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
With little surprise, the over-all top finishers of the State Games 5k at Bonita Lakes were members of the competitive Striker family.
Anthony Striker was first across at 17:09.6 as the overall winner. His younger sister, and last year’s female State Games Athlete of the Year, Kayla Striker led the women across at 21:14.7.
“It was pretty good,” Anthony Striker said. “A little better this year because I knew the course.”
Kayla Striker echoed her brother’s feelings despite it being a cloudless morning and an unshaded course.
“The hill kind of got me, on the way back it was good,” she said.
Of the 132 finishers, a heavy local presence was felt including roughly 30 members of the Divas on the Run club.
Not running, but instead leading the race on a bike as pacer, was founder Felicia Brown.
“I had to a ride a little harder because the runners were so fast,” she said. “It was a little tough.”
The Divas like to support the local running events and found the State Games to be a great opportunity to due so.
“We always try to bring a good group to each local race and running in Meridian,” Brown said.
The group walked away with eight medals across all age divisions: six gold, two silver and a bronze.
“They’re elated, especially the ones the won,” she said.
Similarly, Brandon Maxwell was running to support the local running community and finished fourth overall, but first in the men’s 35-39 age group at 20:23.0.
The 5k was his second event of the State Games after running the trail run in his hometown of Collinsville earlier in the month.
“I wanted to get involved with running in Meridian,” he said. “I had fun. It was great. It was a good course. I really enjoyed it."
Flo Bradley, of Meridian, was the third overall women’s finisher at 22:43.1 and first in women ages 35-39, at 35-years-old.
The avid runner was drawn to participate in her first State Games as a way to get out, be active and support the community.
She conquered the heat and minor hill in between the Bonita Lakes and the mall using her "I am" moto.
“I am beautiful. I am powerful. I am woman. Hear me roar,” she said.
Bradley was a sprinter on her in high school track team in Massachusetts but picked up longer distances under the encouragement of her husband. Being in the military he has to keep up his condition and asked her start running with him.
“I never thought I’d ran longer than a minute, but it’s great. I love it,” she said. “You can do it at any age.”
As a life styles coach, she not only wants her clients to be their best but also wants her two young children to get the idea that a health lifestyle is important.
“I really feel that you want to be an example,” Bradley said. “Because it’s not what you say, it’s really what you are and be. So I wanted to represent all areas of health and exercise is a great way to do it .”