Firecracker 2-Miler is a Ripley 4th tradition

Mark Martin
Jackson Newspapers

Unfortunately, many facets to Ripley’s wonderful 4th of July celebration were unable to take place this year due to COVID-19.

One of those was the annual Firecracker 2-Miler.

A road race, prior to the grand parade, has been part of the 4th festivities since 1999 (it started as a 5K).

Until this year, only President George W. Bush’s visit in 2002 has kept runners from competing on the streets of Ripley during the 4th extravaganza.

Many outstanding runners have made their way to Ripley through the years to get in a run and some good friendly competition.

The list of winners includes the likes of Mid-Ohio Valley Sports Hall of Famers Andrew Benford and Larry Taylor in the male division.

Benford, a Ravenswood native, starred in track and field and cross country at both Ravenswood High School and the University of Richmond.

He captured the Firecracker title in 2003 and again in 2011.

Taylor, who hails from St. Marys, is a racing veteran who burst onto the running scene in high school and later starred at Glenville State College, where he is also a member of that school’s Hall of Fame.

Taylor won his Firecracker crown in 2004.

In the female division, 2014 Ripley High Athlete of the Year Ali (Cunninham) Deem, who competed in cross country and track at West Virginia Wesleyan, was the winner last July.

Ripley and WVU running standout Alison Spiker won the race in 2008.

Recent Ripley High graduate Tori Starcher was the winner of the 2015 and 2017 races. She is taking her talents to Stanford University.

Spiker (now Morris) and Starcher are also recipients of the Ripley High Athlete of the Year Award.

Caleb Casto, Jake Casto, Jack Whitney and Matt Bright, all former Ripley High and collegiate runners, are past winners.

Ripley’s Hilary Bright and Haley Miller are former winners along with Ravenswood’s Tyler Love and Monica Vannest.

Jennifer Povick, a former Sissonville and Appalachian State great, owns three Firecracker titles. She won in 2004 and 2009 and then again in 2014 as Jennifer Deal. Her husband, Brian, was the male winner in 2014.

Her mother is the former Susan Rawlings of Ripley.

Firecracker 2-Miler

Race History

2019 - Male winner: Ian Damenick (10:48), Female winner: Ali Deem, Clarksburg (12:47)

2018 – Male winner: Kyle Stutler, Huntington (11:03.01), Female winner: Hollyann Swann (11:25.66)

2017 – Male winner: Jake Casto, Ripley (9:58), Female winner: Tori Starcher, Ripley (11:21)

2016 – Male winner: Caleb Casto, Ripley (10:58), Female winner: Hilary Bright, Ripley (10:58)

2015 – Male winner: T.J. Able, Charleston (9:48.0), Female winner: Tori Starcher (11:48.5), Ripley

2014 – Male winner: Brian Deal, Maplewood, Missouri (9:56.6), Female winner: Jennifer Deal, Maplewood, Missouri (12:51.1)

2013 - Unavaliable

2012 – Male winner: Jack Whitney, Cottageville (10:12.4), Female winner: Montana Poole, Lewisburg (12:59.3)

2011 - Male winner: Andrew Benford, Ravenswood (9:49.38), Female winner: Tyler Love, Ravenswood (14:27.14)

2010 - Male winner: Matt Bright, Ripley (NTA), Female winner: Haley Miller, Ripley (NTA)

2009 - Male winner: Brian Deal, Maplewood, Missouri (9:56), Female winner: Jennifer Povick, Sissonville, (11:09)

2008 - Male winner: David Caldwell, Indiana, (9:51), Female winner: Alison Spiker, Ripley, (10:23)

2007 - Male winner: Zach Sabitino, Charleston, (9:19), Female winner: Marian Brooks, Charleston, (11:36)

2006 - Male winner: Jason Pyles, Pt. Pleasant (9:31), Female winner: Jennifer Davis, Romney (11:12)

2005 - Male winner: Casey Batey, Barboursville (NTA), Female winner: Christina Rawson, Hurricane (NTA)

2004 - Male winner: Larry Taylor, Fayetteville (10:15), Female winner: Jennifer Povick, Sissonville, (12:44)

2003 - Male winner: Andrew Benford, Ravenswood (10:28), Female winner: Christina Rawson, Hurricane (12:00)

2002 - No race due to visit by President George W. Bush

2001 - Male Winner: Dave McCallum, Charleston (9:32), Female winner: Monica Vannest, Ravenswood (12:10)

2000 - Male winner: Dave McCallum, Charleston (9:32), Female winner: Jessica Taylor, Fayetteville (11:12)

*1999 - Male winner: Mikey Guinn, Nitro (16:56), Female winner: Jessica Taylor (NTA) *-5K