MARTINS?FERRY -- Third time? No, the fourth time's the charm. After finishing in second place the last three years Collin Briggs posted the checkered flag winning the 22nd running of the Martins Ferry Soap Box Derby, but initially thought he had to settle for second yet again.
In the first heat of the finals Briggs had crossed the finish line .844 of a second ahead of first time racer Adele Stillion. As Briggs had won the checkered flag in the first of the two championship runs by .010 last year and lost in the second heat, the Briggs family was careful not to begin an early celebration. This year he once again watched his competitor win the second heat and as his car rolled to a stop at the end of the track Briggs quietly walked to the transport truck in disappointment.
"I did not know I had won," admitted Briggs as the tears of disappointment turned to tears fo joy.
DON'T LET the cute fool you, runner-up Adele Stillion eyes the track from the starting gates with an intensity beyond her eight years of age. The first time race competitor came just two-tenths of a second from claiming the championship.
RACE DIRECTOR Dave Russell, center, poses with the winners from Sunday’s 22nd Annual Martins Ferry Soap Box Derby. From left, are: Fourth place winner Zac Greenwalt, third place winner Seth Kudlak, 2014 Champion Collin Briggs and Runner-up Adele Stillion.
"I didn't like that lane," Briggs, who had made the second run in lane two commented. "I was slow and thought she had too much of a lead at the finish line."
Stillion had ran a nice straight groove in lane one and crossed the time line .815 seconds ahead of Briggs in the second run. The time difference in the first race was just enough to give Collin a .029 time differential and the 2014 crown, which he celebrated with family in a slightly postponed fashion.
"It was worth waiting for," Briggs said. "It feels awesome."
The 12 year old Briggs is the son of Briget Briggs and Justin Johnson, Joey and Tiffany Danehart. A student at Martins Ferry Middle School, Collin will receive a four pack of tickets to the Columbus Zoo plus $250 and he will have the option to come back next year and defend his crown.
Second place this year goes to the 8 year old Stillion. The daughter of Brianne Eddy and Rob Stillion and a student at Ayers Elementary, she will receive 4 tickets for the Wilds and $125.
The battle for third and fourth place again would see each racer win a checkered flag as Seth Kudlak claimed the first heat with a .174 advantage and Zac Greenwalt took the second with a time differential of .067, not enough to win the consolation bracket.
Third place went to 11 year old Kudlak. A student at Hilltop in Sherard, he is the son of Jim and Lori Kudlak and receives $75 and the bronze.
The $50 cash prize went to fourth place winner Greenwalt. Another first time racer, the 8 year old attends Ayers Elementary and is the son of Christine and Jeremy Wendel.
Nashville recording artists "The Joseph Sisters" treated race fans to their beautiful harmonies singing the national anthem to kick off the event. The race committee also presented a plaque to the volunteers from the "Old Navy" retail store for their years of support for the race.
The volunteers packed up the barrels and race day equipment following the awards ceremony with some trepidation. The low numbers this year, as just 21 entrants made 42 trips down the hill have race committee members worried about the future of the Great Race.
"We hope that the numbers come back up," said long time race committee member Bill Sutton who voiced a common theme that the race was a labor of love. "It is a great experience for these kids and they really have a lot of fun, so I hope we will all be back here next year."
The race committee will convene once again in January to talk about the future.
Palmer may be reached at email@example.com