Brooke Adams and Matthew Prohaska gave up running for a bit.
Adams took a break when she went away to college. Prohaska took a break after college.
Both found their way back to the sport and found some motivation in the annual Buffalo News Runner of the Year Series. And this year, they are the women's and men's overall winners.
“This has been a goal of mine since moving back home,” said Adams, who returned to Western New York in 2013. “I’m from Randolph. My parents are dairy farmers. I felt like I gave up running when I went to college at West Virginia. Then I took a teaching job back home in Randolph and I needed a hobby. So I started running again.”
She spent most of her first years running in events in the Southern Tier, particularly Jamestown, which has an active racing scene.
“As I got faster, people were telling me I needed to go race in Buffalo,” Adams said. “That’s where I would get pushed and where the girls are fast. I shied away for awhile, thinking I wasn’t fast enough to line up with those girls. A few years ago, I did the St. Greg’s race and I won it in 18:03 and decided that maybe I was ready for Buffalo.”
Adams has been at the top of the overall standings for a few years, finishing third in the overall standings in 2015 and fourth in 2016. She’s enjoyed the competition with the likes of Kim Vona and Kelsey Gratien.
“There are some great female runners in Buffalo right now,” said Adams, the principal of Colden Elementary School. “The girls are getting faster and improving, and I just give it my best shot. Those girls are some of my very good friends. I love how we push each other. We’re warming up together. We’re cooling down together. We’re waiting for each other at the finish line. It’s good, healthy competition. We congratulate each other, not only in our successes in running, but our life successes as well.”
Adams had plenty of running success in 2019, winning the GBTC Grand Island Half Marathon, the Ronald McDonald House 5K, and the Strider Glider Quarter Marathon..
And that win at the Grand Island Half Marathon had a particularly interesting twist.
“I locked my shoes in my car,” Adams said. “So I had to wear an old pair of sneakers that I would never race in. That’s all I remember about the Grand Island half was that I locked my sneakers in the car. I was running in very heavy sneakers and I was trying to figure out how I could get back in my car because I needed to be home after the race.”
All ended well. Not only did Adams get back in her car, but she took first overall female with a time of 1:28:49.
For Prohaska, it was an opportunity to coach at Starpoint that led him back into running.
“I did run in college and I'm thankful I got that opportunity, but I didn’t have the best experience,” Prohaska said. “I was injured a lot and struggled with body image and burnout. When I got out of college, I wasn’t quite sure if running had a place in my life.”
Then in the summer of 2018, he was named an assistant cross country coach at Starpoint and that changed his perspective.
“They’re a great group of kids,” Prohaska said. “When you work with them, you get back to the root of why you got into the sport in the first place. It’s because you love to run and love to compete. I don’t think you can succeed in the sport unless you have that love for what you’re doing and that appreciation of how simple running is. It’s something anyone can do. If you work hard at it, you can achieve things you felt weren’t possible to achieve.”
He started running again with no pressure to run fast. He ran for the love of it. Then came a training run in February.
“I was doing this hard interval workout on a snow-covered road,” Prohaska said. “I thought I’d be miserable, but I found myself saying, 'This is a lot of fun.' How many people get to experience the world like this? When I did that, I knew something was clicking.”
Prohaska had no expectations at the Shamrock Run 8K. But he put up a 26:54 at the race, placing eighth overall, and that encouraged him to train a little harder and see what would happen with the Runner of the Year series.
Then came the St. Gregory The Great Great Race 5K. He ran a 15:47 to take third place. He broke the 16-minute mark for the race – a goal he had chased all through his college days.
“Part of my mindset in college was performance-based. I was comparing myself to other people a lot,” said Prohaska, who works with Starpoint’s indoor and outdoor track teams. “Now, I had taken this approach where I was training hard, but I was still having a lot of fun with it and enjoying the process of competing and racing. I wasn’t so much worried about the final result and that’s when I started running well.”
A special thanks to Jeff John and BuffaloRunners.com for keeping track of the standings again this year:
2019 Men’s Overall: 1. Matt Prohaska (Lockport), 2. Chris Muldoon (Buffalo), 3. Greg Selke (Buffalo), 4. Jim Park (Buffalo), 5. Patrick Moran (Buffalo), T-6. Alex Farrell (Buffalo), T-6. Brennan Root (Rush), 8. Thomas Flannery (Orchard Park), T-9. Zach Ahart (Buffalo), T-9. Tim Chichester (Hornell), T-9. Sam Morse (Camden), T-9. James Ngandu (Van Wert, Ohio), T-9. Tyler Scheving (Buffalo), T-9. Dylan Stevens (Erie, Pa.).
2019 Women’s Overall: 1. Brooke Adams (Randolph), 2. Jennifer Selig (Clarks Summit, Pa.), 3. Aileen Hoak-Lange (Glenwood), 4. Kimberly Tomasik (Orchard Park), 5. Deb Chmielowiec (South Wales), T-6. Amy Fakterowitz (Williamsville), T-6. Kelsey Gratien (Buffalo), 8. Cassie Goodman (Buffalo), 9. Elizabeth Neel (Cheektowaga), T-10. Alexandra Duggan (East Amherst), T-10. Laurel Leone (Manlius).
Men 20-24: 1. Matt Prohaska (Lockport), 2. Brennan Root (Rush), T-3. Seamus Degan (Buffalo), T-3. William Hilbert (Buffalo), T-3. Raymond Magut (Lansing, Mich.).
Women 20-24: T-1. Mackenzie Donahue (Lockport), T-1. Emmalee Stawicki (East Aurora), T-3. Ashley Cheff (Buffalo), T-3. Iveen Chempkemoi (Lansing, Mich.), T-3. Emily Czechowski (Lancaster), T-3. Jenny Delsignore (Tonawanda), T-3. Aileen Doyle (Buffalo), T-3. Madison Elliott (Buffalo), T-3. Becca Hoelzl (Lancaster), T-3. Heidi Pearson (Richmondville).
Men 25-29: 1. Greg Selke (Buffalo), 2. Matthew Chase (North Tonawanda), 3. Alex Farrell (Buffalo), 4. Tyler Scheving (Buffalo), T-5. Zach Ahart (Buffalo), T-5. James Ngandu (Van Wert, Ohio), T-5. Nick Orlowski (Lancaster), T-5. Adam Pacheck (Ithaca), T-5. Dylan Stevens (Erie, Pa.), T-5. Joe Whelan (Webster).
Women 25-29: 1. Kimbery Tomasik (Orchard Park), 2. Cassie Goodman (Buffalo), T-3. Lizzy Mahoney (Buffalo), T-3. Samantha Maiarana (Tonawanda), T-3. Monicah Ngige (Lansing, Mich.), T-3 Brandi Pettit (Hamburg), T-3. Lauren Scarupa (Lockport), T-3. Darya Valuyskaya (Buffalo).
Men 30-34: 1.Patrick Moran (Buffalo), 2. Joseph Moberg (Wilson), T-3. Dan Snitzer (Kenmore), T-5. Thomas Chichester (Hornell), T-5. Kenny Goodfellow (Pittsburgh, Pa.), T-5. Chris Muldoon (Buffalo), T-5. Paul Rellstab (Buffalo), T-5. Ridge Robinson (Strasburg, Ohio), T-5. Bernie Rohrbacher (Buffalo), T-5. John Schnitter (Geneseo).
Women 30-34: 1. Brooke Adams (Randolph), 2. Kelsey Gratien (Buffalo), 3. Elizabeth Neel (Cheektowaga), 4. Laurel Leone (Manlius), 5. Allayva Stier (Cheekotwaga).
Men 35-39: 1. Chris Muldoon (Buffalo), T-2. Ken Crawford (Buffalo), T-2. Scott Page (Lancaster), T-2.Jerry Rivas (Tonawanda), T-5. Cragg Chaffee (North Tonawanda), T-5. John Feroleto, Jr., (Buffalo), T-5. Mourad Marofit (Floral Park), T-5. Sam Morse (Camden), T-5. Erik Rogers (West Seneca).
Women 35-39: T-1. Aileen Hoak-Lange (Glenwood), T-1. Jennifer Selig (Clarks Summit, Pa.), 3. Mary LeBrun Schultz (Buffalo), 4. Kierrann Toth (East Amherst), 5. Tracy Vanderlip (Rochester).
Men 40-44: 1. Matthew Dore (Buffalo), 2. John Deangelis (Orchard Park), T-3. Michael Selig (Clarks Summit, Pa.), T-3. Jason Toth (East Amherst), T-5. Michael Gill (Oakville, Ontario), T-5. Josh Harter (Avon), T-5. Julius Kiptoo (Bowling Green, Ohio), T-5. Jay List (Amherst), T-5. Joe Pitzonka (Orchard Park), T-5. Joe Silliman (West Seneca).
Women 40-44: 1. Deb Chmielowiec (South Wales), 2. Mary Lawrence (Boston), 3. Amy Konopka (Scottsville), T-4. Angela Barrett (Buffalo), T-4. Amanda McCleod (Hamilton, Ontario), T-4. Debra Vertoske (Lancaster).
Men 45-49: 1. Kevin Burke (Buffalo), 2. Anthony Cinotti (East Aurora), 3. Scott Thompson (Orchard Park), 4. Mark Andrews (Rochester), 5.Jonathan Bottoms (Buffalo).
Women 45-49: 1. Rachel Kranitz McPhee (Buffalo), 2. Jody Musolino (North Tonawanda), 3. Denise Seelbach (Tonawanda), T-4. Mia Baxendale (Orchard Park), T-4. Marlene Blount (Lockport), T-4. Colleen Ritchie (Glenwood), T-4. Trudie Smith (St. Catharines, Ont.), T-4. Kim Strasser (Alden).
Men 50-54: 1. Jim Park (Buffalo), 2. Paul Pulinski (Hamburg), T-3. Dale Flanders (Allegany), T-3. Joseph Norris (Tonawanda), 5. Jose Fuentes (Hamilton, Ont.).
Women 50-54: 1. Amy Fakterowitz (Williamsville), 2. Elizabeth Randell (Buffalo), 3. Jill Lieber (Getzville), T-4. Julie Cairnie (St. Catharines, Ont.), T-4. Lisa Galloway (Fonthill, Ont.).
Men 55-59: 1. Paul Noe (East Amherst), 2. Jose Fuentes (Hamilton, Ont.), T-3. Brian McElroy (Buffalo), T-3. Patrick Occhino (Buffalo), T-3. Jay Wilczak (Alden).
Women 55-59: 1. Chrisitne Quenneville (East Amherst), 2. Susan Stanko (Grand Island), 3. Nancy Legierski (Amherst), T-4. Carol Denysschen (Orchard Park), T-4. Ann Marie Gannon (Hamburg), T-4. Linda Haas (Clarence), T-4. Kathleen Rosiek (Buffalo), T-4. Annie Schapiro (Buffalo), T-4. Adele Tesolin (Thorold, Ontario), T-4. Sharon Winiewicz (Elma).
Men 60-64: 1. Sam Legierski (Amherst), 2. David MacVittie (Williamsville), 3. James Clark (East Aurora), 4. Bob Merritt (Grand Island), 5. Paul Noe (East Amherst).
Women 60-64: 1. Brigitte Soltiz (Alden), 2. Judy Lemmon (Amherst), 3. Stephanie Spritzer (Williamsville), 4. Elaine Lorenzi (Orchard Park), 5. Carolyn Corgel (Grand Island).
Men 65-69: 1. John Feroleto (Buffalo), 2. David Velarede (Buffalo), 3. Barry Latner (Williamsville), T-4. Mark Morgan (Hamburg), T-4. Ted Paget (Niagara Falls, Ont.).
Women 65-69: 1. Noreen McAllister (Hamburg), 2. Judy Hagen (Buffalo), T-3. Deb Kehoe (St. Catharines, Ont.), T-3. Debra Stachura (West Seneca), T-5. Paula Jasinski (Buffalo), T-5. Eileen Lawrence (Buffalo), T-5. Elaine McCrath (no city given).
Men 70-74: 1. Harry O’Hara (Fredonia), 2. Dennis Sears (Orchard Park), 3. George McMenemy (Burlington, Ontario), T-4. Tony Gingello (Rochester), T-4. Paul Pietraszewski (West Seneca).
Women 70-74: 1. Barbara Sauer (Buffalo), 2. Judy Mowery (Fredonia), 2. Linda Gerbec (Amherst), T-4. Sandy Balling (Tonawanda), T-4. Ann Bird (Grimsby, Ont.).
Men 75-79: 1. Michael Williams Sr. (West Valley), 2. Bill Steffenhagen (Franklinville), 3. Ed Russell (East Amherst), 4. Larry Lavoie (Welland, Ontario), 5. Jerry Bergman (East Amherst).
Women 75-79: 1. Mac Mackenzie (Jamestown), 2. Christa Maier (Williamsville), 3. Rona Ashton (Ridgeway, Ont.), 4. Fran Rowe (Niagara Falls), 5. Karla Linkner (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Men 80-84: 1. Salvatore LaMastra (Eden), 2. Dick Gucwa (Buffalo), T-3. J. Chisholm (St. Catharines, Ont.), T-3. Patrick Delaney (Depew), T-3 Robert Glazier (Toronto).
Women 80-84: 1. Edna Hyer (South Wales), 2. Sheila Scandurra (Snyder), T-3. Jeanne Galvin (East Amherst), T-3. Wendi Hanger (Toronto).
Men 85-89: 1. Don Wood (Hamburg), 2. Jerry Rivard (Amherst), 3. David Willett (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont.), 4. Hap Holway (Tonawanda), 5. Norman Walters (Clarence).
Women 85-89: 1. Edna Hyer (South Wales), 2. Jerry Clauss (Buffalo).
Saturday, Dec. 21
- Caroler 5K Run, 9 a.m., The Irishman Pub & Eatery, 162 Main St., East Aurora
- Holiday 5K at Old Fort Niagara, 11 a.m., Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown
Tuesday, Dec. 31
- New Year's Eve 5K, noon, Fort Niagara State Park, Youngstown
Wednesday, Jan. 1
- iRun WNY 5K New Year's Classic, 5K, noon, Fort Niagara State Park, Lewiston
Sunday, Jan. 26
- Penguin Run 5K, 11 a.m., Classics V Banquet Facility, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst.