Racing for turkeys |

Racing for turkeys

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Zach Smith, 10, finishes first in the fourth-grade boys' division of the Turkey Run at Fremont Elementary School on Friday. Below, Savannah Dennis, 10, in back, collides with Sophie Holmes, 11, at the finish line during the fifth-grade girls' division of the Turkey Run. Dennis won the race.

The winnings were a Scolari’s gift certificate for a frozen turkey, but Zach Smith ran through the finish line Friday like he had won a gold medal.

“It was tough,” the 10-year-old explained amidst labored breathing afterward. “It was really tough. When I saw the finish line, I knew I was going to come through.”

Zach, 10, was one of 12 students at Fremont Elementary School to win a free turkey in the school’s first turkey run.

First-place runners in third, fourth and fifth grades won the turkey certificates after doing a quarter-mile around the playground. There were both boys and girls races.

Second-place winners won certificates for Scolari’s pies. Six additional names were randomly drawn for turkeys.

“I ran as fast as I could,” Zach said. “I saw them catching up. I thought they were going to catch me. And then I made it through.”

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As he did, he raised his arms upward in championship manner. And in true heroic fashion, he had someone to recognize afterward.

“I thought I was going to come in second or third place,” he said. “I came through. And I made first. And I’m really happy. And I want to thank Coach Jeff Cunningham.”

That’s his American Youth Soccer Organization coach, not a personal trainer.

“He makes us sprint and he really wants us to come through and give our best,” Zach said. “And that’s what I did.”

Over in the field, Charlie Banfield, 11, a fifth-grader with blond hair and matching eyelashes, prepared for the fifth-grade races.

“I want to try and win,” he said.

He did just that.

“I ran hard,” he said on the championship stand afterward. “I wanted to go as fast as I could. (The competition) was right behind me.”

In the girls fifth-grade race, Sophie Holmes, 11, and Savannah Dennis, 10, nearly tied for first, but a last-second effort and stumble put Sophie ever so slightly ahead.

“We ran in front of each other and then we tripped,” she said.

Despite the fall, she was happy to be winning a free turkey.

“Yeah, it was worth it,” she said. “Because I love to eat.”

And Savannah was glad to take second.

“If I had won first, I would’ve traded her for the pie, because I love pie,” she said.

The turkey races were the idea of physical education teacher Denis Coyne, who has been at Fremont for the past seven years.

“I hope to do it (again) next year with (all of the) students,” he said. “It’s a huge school spirit event. It gets the kids excited about school and builds class and community spirit.”

He also puts on the school’s Jogathon every year.

“The bottom line is kids love to run,” he said. “They just love it, and you’ve got to give them an opportunity.”

At the end of the day, every student was a winner in the turkey races. At lunch time, all received ice cream.

n Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at or 881-1219.