TAMPA — A year ago, Jonathan Mott finished second in the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic 15K race behind Austin Richmond, finishing 24 seconds off the winning pace.
On Saturday, Mott made sure he came away with a first-place finish. The Babson Park resident and former Webber International distance runner won the race with a time of 48 minutes, 44 seconds.
“I know, right,” Mott said when asked about finally winning the race after several attempts. “I was like 20th one year, fourth another year and seventh one year, and now finally.”
Mott, 27, said he will compete in today’s half marathon. The former Northeast High standout took home $2,000 for winning the 15K race and appeared to be in control from the start. Mott is attempting to make the Olympic trials for the marathon, and he said he’s only 47 seconds away from qualifying. You can make the trials by posting a qualifying time in the half marathon.
“I’m not trying to qualify (today), but it is more to see what I can do against some competition and win that money,” Mott said. “(Today) I’m going to be even more open-minded, because the goal was to not go under 50 minutes today.”
Holding off two younger runners was on Mott’s mind throughout the race, as 19-year-old Rafal Matuszczak of Wschowa, Poland, and Michael Poole, a 22-year-old from Tampa, finished with times of 49:06 and 51:10, respectively. Matuszczak kept pace with Mott for the first 6 miles, before Mott was able to break away.
“At the half-mile marker, I asked what (Matuszczak) was aiming for, and he said 47:30 and I knew I was going to have to work from there,” Mott said. “But I figured if I kept throwing in some surges that he would break, but he never did. Finally, around the 10K he broke, but he never really broke hard. He just kind of slipped back very slowly.”
Mott’s time went up from a year ago by 1:06, but he was able to hold off the field, which included many Tampa natives finishing within the top 10.
Among the top finishers from Tampa were: RJ Dorazil (51:16), Kevin Collmar (51:43), Kyler Long (52:35) and Tommy Brown (53:44). Five members with military backgrounds finished in the top 55: Brown, Bryan Dunker (57:12), Chris Petrock (57:12), Lauro Luna (1:00:09) and Anthony Baker (1:00:32).