Preston Whitney is the winner of 2021 Firecracker 2-Miler

Mark Martin

With no race a year ago due to COVID-19, it was nice to see runners out on the streets of Ripley during the annual Fourth of July celebration.

And the winner for a second time in the Firecracker 2-Miler’s history was Preston “Jack” Whitney.

The former Ripley High standout crossed the finish line first last Saturday in a time of 10:40.9.

Whitney, who is now 29, was also the winner of the race in 2012.

The race has been a part of the Fourth festivities since 1999. Other than last year, the only other cancellation came in 2002 when President George W. Bush paid a visit to Ripley’s celebration.

Whitney said COVID-19 had a lot to do with him claiming a second Firecracker 2-Miler title.

“I had just gotten tired of sitting around with very little to do. So, I started training for the race this year,” Whitney said.

He said the decision to be in top physical condition for the event started in March.

Whitney took the lead about 200 meters into the race and never looked back to register that second victory.

He said it’s hard to believe his two titles have come nine years apart.

“When I won it the first time I was in really good shape. I was running at Marshall at the time,” he said.

These days Whitney works as a financial advisor in his hometown.

He is married to Ravenswood native Whitney Johnson, who was once a cheerleader for the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens.

Ripley High rising sophomore Max Meadows placed second in a time of 11:33.0.

Luke Keins of Arlington, Virginia placed third with a 12:06.9 clocking.

Caleb Casto, a 2013 Ripley High School graduate and the winner of the 2-Miler in 2016, finished fourth with a time of 12:12.2.

The top female finisher was Sophia Meir, a 14-year-old from Carmel, who recorded a time of 12:27.6.

Taylor Booher was the second female to cross the finish line and did so in a time of 13:12.4. Ripley High School girls track and field coach Krystle Cunningham, who has led the Lady Vikings to a pair of Class AAA state championships, was third in the female division with a time of 14:33.3.

Colton Roberts, age eight, won the youth division with a time of 15:11.9.

Joy Sayre was first in the girls 9-14 division with a time of 15:08.3. Evan Meier was first in the boys 9-14 division with a time of 13:43.3.

Kaylin Parrish was first in the 15-19 division with a time of 19:32.8. Carson Thompson, a Cabell Midland High athlete, was first in the 15-19 boys age group with a time of 13:48.9. He just missed the Top 10 by placing 12th overall.

Lauren Hinzman won the female 20-29 age group in 20:37.5. Casto was the winner of this division for the males.

Samantha Canter won the 30-39 division with a time in 14:55.1. Yousuke Hioki, who was sixth overall in a time of 12:53.6, claimed the male division.

The 40-49 winners were Melissa Rolston, who had a time of 17:59.5, and Jason Barr, who recorded a time of 13:51.3 to place 15th overall.

Monica Vannest was the winner of the 50-59 female division in a time of 16:03.6. Vannest was the overall female winner in the 2001 race. Jeff Mace took first in the male division with a time of 15:32.4.

Eunice Rhodes won the 60-69 female division with a time of 21:24. Greg Carder, a 1977 Ripley High graduate, was first in the male division with a time of 14:24.2, which was good for 19th overall.