WSU runner Palmer wins Fourth of July Run

After crossing the finish line first, having successfully held off his former high school coach, Washington State cross country runner and former North Medford Black Tornado star Drew Jordan was too tired to talk trash.

Not that he won't rub it in eventually.

"It'll come," he said, "it'll come."

Jordan certainly has some ammunition. The 20-year-old incoming junior at WSU used a big kick to charge past former North Medford assistant coach Trevor Palmer, taking advantage of perfect conditions to claim the 36th annual Ashland Fourth of July Run in record time Wednesday.

In the second year of the event's 10,000-meter course — it was a six-mile run for the first 34 years — Jordan passed Palmer, a former standout at both Crater High and Southern Oregon University, with less than 400 yards to go and pulled away to capture his first Fourth of July victory in 31 minutes, 22.63 seconds. The time shattered last year's mark by 1 minute, 35 seconds.

Palmer came in second in 31:31.96 and Rickey Gates of Woodycreek, Colo., finished third in 32:48.72.

Ashland resident Jenn Shelton, 28, the women's 2012 Granite Man mountain run winner, won the women's Fourth of July race in 37:18.14, another record, while two more Ashlanders — Sierra Walker and Ashland High alum and current SOU standout Seena Frantz — took second (37:49.75) and third (39:06.46), respectively. The Fourth of July victory was Shelton's third in a row and fourth since 2008.

Jordan and Palmer ran next to each other for the first two miles before separating, but were never far apart.

"I was going up the hills a little quicker and he was catching up on the downhills," Jordan said.

Palmer, who won the Granite Man 10-mile mountain run two and a half weeks ago at Applegate Lake, passed Jordan with a quarter-mile to go but couldn't hold his slim lead down a home stretch that featured a grueling uphill climb before the straightaway to the finish line in front of the Ashland Library.

"I could tell (Palmer) was slowing down and I was feeling pretty good," Jordan said.

"It was fun," added Jordan, who won back-to-back Oregon state Class 6A cross country championships for the Black Tornado in 2008 and 2009. "Coming back from college and getting back in the Fourth of July Run, and winning, and beating my coach. He was quite a bit better than me back in high school, so I got a bunch of stuff checked off the list."

Another former local, Phoenix High alum Jorge Gil Juarez, 18, finished sixth overall and set a 14-19 age group record in the 10k (33:34.86), and Chris Mayer, 33, an Ashland High alum who lives in Middlefield, Conn., placed seventh (33:53.64). Juarez graduated from PHS in 2011 and currently runs for Clackamas Community College.

The course, revamped prior to last year's race, starts and finishes in front of the Ashland Library. In between, runners make their way down East Nevada Street, turn north down Eagle Mill Road before winding back by way of the Bear Creek Greenway Trail. The temperature was about 60 degrees when the race began at 7:47 a.m., ideal for a long run that included a late climb up Water Street.

"I heard good feedback on (the course)," said former Ashland High coach Bob Julian, who along with Phoenix High cross country coach John Cornet organizes the race every summer. "It's flatter, but coming back it's a long uphill climb. The nice thing about it, too, is that the police cooperated on it so they closed all the roads throughout the whole course. That makes it a lot safer."

Seven hundred and thirteen people registered for the run, making it the second-most popular Ashland Fourth of July race in history, according to Cornet.

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