Brooksville, FL – The local running community came together over the weekend for the annual Ernie Chatman 5K, remembering the late legendary Hernando High School cross country and track coach. Chatman passed away in 2016 at the age of 66 after dedicating over 25 years to Hernando athletics.
The memorial 5K, hosted by the Red Mule Runners at McKethan Lake, brought out talented runners from across central Florida. Earning the top high school spot was Miles Tobin from Citrus High School, crossing the line in 17:50. He was followed by Michael Smothers (17:52) of Belleview High School and 8th grader Jaylen Blackburn (18:10) of the Ocala Distance Project. The top overall finisher was Albano Dos Reis of Ocala, Florida.
On the girls side, Kiley Summerlin from Belleview High took first in 19:52. Rounding out the top high school female finishers were Taylor Alvord (23:19) and Mckenzie Dum (23:36) of Lecanto.
Chatman coached cross country and track at Hernando High from 1981 to 2009. He led the Leopards to two state runner-up finishes and a state title in 1997, in addition to coaching numerous individual state champions. His daily dedication to the sport was unmatched, as evidenced by his 24+ year daily running streak and marathons completed in all 50 states except Hawaii.
In 2017, Chatman was posthumously inducted into the FHSAA Hall of Fame for his profound impact on high school running. Through his passion and commitment to developing young athletes, Chatman embodied what it means to be a transformational prep coach.
The annual memorial 5K ensures Chatman’s legacy lives on. Runners of all ages turn out each year to compete and pay tribute to the Hernando legend. It is a fitting way to honor the man who gave so much to the local running community.