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Running in big shoes for 20 years - Chris Hoban Memorial 5-mile run boasts competitive field

John Pollina’s debut in the 20th annual Police Officer Christopher Hoban Memorial 5-mile run was a complete success this past Sunday in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn.

Right from the start in front of Xaverian High School on Shore Road, Pollina went out fast, set the pace and held on to the lead all the way, including along the Shore Road bicycle path, and along Third Avenue.

Only 18 years of age, Polllina, a freshman at the College of Staten Island, covered the course in 28:18.51. He just edged 50-year-old runner-up Jose Santiago of Sunset Park, who was timed in 28:25.33.

Because Pollina is not competing for CSI, he is able to get in as many road races that he can for experience in long distances in order to get a feel for the sport when he goes on to a major Division I college.

“I ran on a flat course and felt good,” said Pollina, who went out at a 5:13 pace for the first mile and overall ran at a 5:40 pace throughout the race. “I enjoyed the run. This is the first time ever I ran a five miler.”

Next year, he hopes to transfer to a good NCAA Division I college where he intends to compete in intercollegiate track and cross country.

Meanwhile, the first Xaverian High School runner to cross the finish line was 15-year-old Joe Khoury, who clocked in at 30:41.32 for seventh place, three spots ahead of teammate Kyle Powers, who timed in at 31:47.64.

Neil Khoury, Joe’s brother, and a member of the school’s cross country team, ran the course in 31:57.56, for 11th place. Mike Pessalano timed in at 33:04.30 for 18th place and Brian Narsten finished 21st in 33:29.82.

Kevin Hillery, also on the school’s harrier squad, clocked in at 36:41.81 for 53rd place.

Other members of the cross country squad who ran the race were Schaib Javed (50:39.59), Wilfred Coles (38:22.59, 85) and Nick Castronovo (40:21.78, 129).

The Xaverian students were coming off a harrier meet on the previous day.

“Since I ran yesterday, I wasn’t in my best condition,” Neil Khoury said. “I could have done better. I wanted to see what I could do.”

“The race was hard,” said Powers. “It feels good to run with older people.”

Besides Pollina, another first timer in the field was Pat Keane, who was satisfied with his 68:28.67 performance.

“I went into the race because I needed endurance for the school’s hockey team,” he said.

“It was a great race,” noted third place finisher and Park Slope resident Pete O’Rourke, who was timed at 27:09.01 and became the second borough finisher. “It’s great that we had traffic closed along with Third Avenue. You can sprint down there.”

One of the older competitors in the huge field was 74-year-old Flatbush resident Mickey Newman, whose time of 43:52.74 earned him 207th place.

“We had a nice breeze on the course,” he said. “It was a great race.”

The Xaverian Police Alumni sponsored the race, named after Chris Hoban, who gave his life in the line of duty at his young age of 26 at the time in 1988. He was also an alumnus of Xaverian, class of 1980.

The recipients of the Chris Hoban Service to New York Award were First Deputy Commissioner George Grasso and Chief of the Department Joseph Esposito.

Xaverian President Sal Ferrera received two proclamations for the school – one from Senator Marty Golden and the other from Councilman Jim Fields.

“The close to 700 entrants is the largest that we’ve ever had,” Ferrera said.

Following the 5-miler, the race directors conducted a pee-wee race. The police department and the volunteers helped to make the race once again an extreme success.

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