From the sports editor: Brewing up a great event — Wyoming Buffalo Stampede to celebrate 40th

5K runners start in the 38th annual Great Wyoming Buffalo Stampede 5K and 10K run and walk at Wyoming Park. (Delaware State News file photo)

These guys did try to start a few other running races back in the day.

There was the ‘Wild Goose Chase’ — an eight-mile loop around Smyrna’s Bombay Hook Reserve.

Or how about the ‘Annie Jump Cannon Race for the Stars’ — a five-mile run for women starting and finishing at the famous female Dover astronomer’s home.

But, while those events had some success, none had the staying power of the Great Wyoming Buffalo Stampede.

Next Saturday morning, the race that started with a few guys brainstorming over beer outside Brown’s Wyoming Tavern will celebrate its 40th anniversary.

The gimmick was the small town’s western-sounding name and the buffaloes owned by local businessman Frank DiMondi.

But Frank Fantini, who was one of the small group of men who came up with the idea, thinks there were a lot of things that got the 10K/5K race off the ground. DiMondi always had beer and a bluegrass band playing for the runners after the race.

“So it really became a great race because the national magazines loved it because of the photographs,” said Fantini, who was city editor of the Delaware State News in 1978. “You had runners with Amish buggies sharing the road.

“And the participants obviously loved it because, how many races do you go to where you end up on a farm field, with buffalo, with live music and a whole truckload of free beer?”

The way Fantini remembers it, the group that first started talking about the race were DSN reporter Jack Croft, Smyrna High principal Carston Wagner, Caesar Rodney administrator Russ Perry, Fantini and probably a few others.

The group went out for a run every Saturday morning and then ended up back at Brown’s Tavern.

“Somehow we started talking about sponsoring our own race,” said Fantini. “And Jack Croft, probably by the inspiration of being at Brownie’s Tavern said, ‘You know, a lot of the best road races in America start and end at taverns.’

“Frank (DiMondi) had actually said something about, ‘You know, if you ever want to start a race, let me know, we can do something.’ We knew that Frank DiMondi owned some buffalo and one thing led to another. It didn’t take very long to come up with the idea — Wyoming and buffalo go together. So it it was the ‘Great Wyoming Buffalo Stampede.’”

Fantini said there were plenty of other people who made important contributions in the early days of the race.

He said Frank Ianni — a friend of DiMondi’s and a general with the National Guard — recruited a number of guardsmen to compete in the first race. And Harold Lane, the State News editorial cartoonist, designed the first logo for the event.

Somehow, the whole thing just worked.

Fantini, who now lives in Florida, is always glad to hear that the Stampede is alive and well.

“It’s interesting,” he said. “I’ve been involved in a lot of things in Dover. I helped start a lot of things. And, in some ways, the thing that I’m most proud of is that I was there at the beginning of the Buffalo Stampede.

“It’s become such an institution that it’s carried on for 40 years through different generations of leadership — and people I don’t even know. That’s kind of neat.”

To run: In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Stampede, a post-race party will be held at Brown’s Tavern after Saturday’s race.

Registration is available on-line at www.active.com or www.ddsr.org/buffalo-stampede/. Registration is $25 for the 5K and $30 for the 10K. Event-day registration is available.

Welcome to the club

Apparently, the Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterbacks welcomed former Wesley College standout Joe Callahan to their group by texting him pictures of their dogs.

According to a story on Pennlive.com, Carson Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld then asked the newly-signed free agent to rank them.

“That was stressful,” Callahan was quoted in the story. “I didn’t want to actually rank the dogs, because that’s tough. That gets personal. They all sent the pictures in, and I didn’t know whose was whose. So I kind of ranked off picture quality and dog pose.”

The three veteran QBs are considered an especially tight-knight group. Callahan, though, says they’ve welcomed him.

“It’s been great,” Callahan said. “It’s a really good quarterback room from the top down. I’ve just been really enjoying my time here and I’m just trying to be prepared as possible, and the guys have been there to answer every question I have.”

Odds & ends

• Caesar Rodney High football coach Dan Candeloro is going to need surgery for a ruptured Achilles tendon. But he expects to be in a walking boot for the start of preseason camp on Aug. 15.

• University of Delaware men’s lacrosse coach Ben DeLuca is in Israel with Team USA at the FIL World Lacrosse Championships. DeLuca is serving as the team’s assistant general manager.

A total of 46 countries are taking part in the tournament, making it the largest of its kind.

• Former Smyrna High football star Will Knight lists ‘Philadelphia’ as his hometown on Old Dominion’s roster for this season. Knight will be wearing No. 39 as a freshman.

Leddie Brown, who teamed up with Knight on Smyrna’s 2016 state championship team, also lists his hometown as Philadelphia on West Virginia’s roster. Brown is wearing No. 4 in his first season.

• Delmar High grad Alex Ellis is in his first season with the Kansas City Chiefs. It’s his fourth NFL team since the tight end made the league as an undrafted free agent.

• Middletown native Sydney Rhodes, a goalie on the UD field hockey team, was one of 100 players selected to showcase their skills in front of coaches and selectors for the USA Field Hockey Olympic Development Pipeline.

Reach sports editor Andy Walter at walter@newszap.com

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