Howell Melon Run female winner found ‘part of me that was missing’ through running – Daily Press & Argus

Howell Melon Run female winner found ‘part of me that was missing’ through running  Daily Press & Argus


HOWELL — It didn’t take Sophia Nunnery long to fall in love with running.

A long-time soccer player, Nunnery started competing in track and field as a seventh-grader at Hartland Ore Creek Middle School a little more than a year ago.


She was hooked.

“It just felt great for my body,” she said. “I just felt it was something that was a part of me that was missing. It really just made me happy and I enjoyed it. I did soccer since I was 5. I gave it up for running, which I think I made a really good choice.”

It certainly looks that way.

Despite being relatively new to running, Nunnery has made the varsity cross country lineup at Hartland as a freshman and was the first female finisher in the 45th annual Howell Melon Run Friday night.

Nunnery, 14, covered the five-kilometer course in 21 minutes and 12 seconds. She ran the race with a group of male runners, having built a sizeable lead in the women’s race. Angela Carron, 44, of Milan was the second female in 21:55.

“Toward the end, it felt like I was going a little bit faster than usual trying to keep up and stay with them,” Nunnery said. “I did and I actually felt great. I didn’t catch my breath until the end. I had a little panic attack there. Otherwise, it was amazing. It’s really great I got to run with all those people.”

Nunnery’s most impressive performance for Ore Creek was a 2:33.32 800-meter performance in the Southeast Michigan Middle School Showcase May 13 at Wyandotte Roosevelt. She was third out of 22 runners with a time that was five seconds faster than anyone on Hartland’s varsity team ran last spring.


She will put that middle-distance speed to use in cross country for the first time this fall.

“In eighth grade, Mr. (Gerald) Bliznik from the middle school in Hartland told me I should do cross country, because I’m a great fit for it,” Nunnery said. “So, this is my first year as a freshman doing cross country and I’m really excited.”


In high school, Nunnery will run against a Howell team that is coached by Clay Woll, who was the overall winner with a time of 16:53. Shea Kettner of Detroit was second in 17:12.

“My wife and I just had our third baby, so he’s only a few weeks old,” Woll said. “Super busy and super tired. I was just going out there to have fun. I hadn’t run in 10 days. Whatever happened, happened. I went out way too fast. I didn’t take my own advice. I got a little too excited. The first bit is so far downhill that you get a little too excited with everybody. I looked down at my watch and, ‘You need to chill out.’”

Most of Woll’s running lately has been with his Howell runners, who began official practices Monday following a summer of training together.

“There’s not a lot of time,” he said. “I like to jump in the workouts with all my kids to get some added work, but outside of that there’s not a lot of time for running.”

Woll’s other victory at the Melon Run came in 2018 when he won the 10K, which hasn’t been run in the two years following the cancellation of the 2020 race due to COVID fears.

“Normally, I do the 10K, but they didn’t do it this year for some reason,” he said. “So, might as well do the 5K. I always try to do the local stuff.”

Woll will run the Boston Marathon next year after easily qualifying with a time of 2:37:41 at the Bayshore Marathon May 28 in Traverse City.

“I ran the Detroit Marathon in October and had a freak accident with my leg at 21 miles,” he said. “So, I needed to go up there to try to hit the Boston qualifier for this coming year, because my wife qualified at Detroit.”

For Woll, 30, it’s important that his running continues to be an inspiration for his athletes.

“I don’t like to be the coach that doesn’t run anymore and just tells them what to do,” he said. “I want to be the one who shows them, ‘All right, if I’m gonna work hard, you’ve got to work hard, too.’”

There were 429 finishers in the 5K, a rebound back to normal numbers from the 288 who ran last year.

Howell Melon Run results

Overall winners — Men: Clay Woll, Howell, 16:53. Women: Sophia Nunnery, Brighton, 21:12.

Masters winners — Men: Robert Seng, Webberville, 20:46. Women: Angela Carron, Milan, 21:55.

Male 14-under — Jack MacGregor, Howell, 18:40

Male 15-19 — Noah DeLand, Howell, 18:02

Male 20-29 — Kyle Petronio, Brighton, 18:06

Male 30-39 — Shea Kettner, Detroit, 17:12

Male 40-49 — Mo Waite, East Lansing, 21:02

Male 50-59 — Greg Stapert, Howell, 24:17

Male 60-69 — Carl Posluszny, Howell, 24:02

Male 70-over — Don Owens, Naples, Fla., 26:00

Female 14-under — Lena Samborn, Whitmore Lake, 24:42

Female 15-19 — Jordan Walchuk, Howell, 26:51

Female 20-29 — Allie Murphy, South Lyon, 21:56

Female 30-39 — Leslie Leemgraven, Howell, 22:01

Female 40-49 — Pamela McDonald, Howell, 22:35

Female 50-59 — Deb Grischke, Pinckney, 25:01

Female 60-69 — Jill Winegar, Howell, 30:09

Female 70-over — Claudia Tuori, Howell, 43:22

Contact Bill Khan at wkhan@gannett.com.  Follow him on Twitter @BillKhan.