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Curro, Frank win Heart O' Dixie again

By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
July 22, 2001
PHILADELPHIA One triathlete simply outran the field, while another barely dodged a lightning bolt to capture the 22nd-annual Heart O' Dixie Triathlon Saturday morning.
Joseph Curro of Clinton finished the 35-mile three-sport race from Lake Tiak O'Khata at Louisville to the Neshoba County Fairgrounds with a time of 1:51:33 for the best showing since Chris Eschbach's winning time of 1:51:05 in 1998.
The victory on an overcast morning made Curro a four-time champion here with his other wins coming in 1994, 1995, and 1999.
Curro averaged a sizzling 5:12 per mile on the seven-mile run.
Unlike some, Curro managed to dodge the raindrops.
Curro's father is battling lung cancer.
Deanna Frank, 30, from Homewood, Ala., was the female champion. Her time of 2:00:53 was good for sixth place overall and was the best time for a woman since drafting was outlawed in 1990. Frank's showing shattered the previous best time of 2:07:10 set by Pam Bowen Cox in 1990.
Frank needed the great time to edge female runner-up Melissa Hopkins, also of Homewood, who finished at 2:02:06 to break Cox' time.
Nobody had to tell Frank about Hopkins as they often train together as well as compete.
Frank, who is training to go to Holland for the world championships in duathlons, has done five triathlons this year.
Both Curro and Frank won the Sunfish Summer Triathlon two weeks ago. They also were the 1999 Heart O' Dixie champions.
Completing the top 10 males were Nick Cutchens of Birmingham, Ala.; Mark Jacobs of Birmingham, Tom Lowery of Gainesville, Fla.; John Noblin of Jackson, Bo Richardson of Fulton, Pete Prichard of Ocean Springs, Patrice Lhommeau of Memphis, Tenn.; Casey Fannin of Birmingham, and Tony Allen of Birmingham.
The top 10 female finishers include Courtney King of Daleville who placed third, Lori Hedvig of Hoover, Ala; Anne Veazey of Jackson, Frannie Childs of Enterprise, Katy Roberts of Metarie, La.; Amy Keywood of Hazlehurst, Kristi Voss of Jackson, and Stephanie Ainsworth of Montgomery, Ala.
Athletes from 12 states (Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Tennessee, Georgia, Oklahoma, Utah, West Virginia, Virginia, Texas, and California) and the District of Columbia competed.
A total of 245 individuals finished the race with the oldest being 80-year-old Jimmy Moore of Crystal Springs, who received the largest ovation from the athletes and fans.
The youngest finishers among the individuals were a pair of 15-year-olds Milton Fletcher of Kosciusko and Stacey Backstrom of Woodstock, Ga.
The Dr. Dickie Nowell Memorial Award, which goes to the top finisher from Neshoba County, went to Ryan Nance. His time of 2:09:04 was good for 24th overall.
Among those who traveled the furtherest to compete were Steve Stamper of Costa Mesa, Cal.; Kristi King of Draper, Utah; and Crissie McMullan of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.
Thirteen teams completed the race with Team MSU Jeff Gamblin, Matt Fowler, and Korky Smith taking first place.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. Phone him at 693-1551 ext. 3234 or e-mail him at mstamper@themeridianstar.com.