Sullivan crawls to a win in the Diaper Derby

Sep. 14, 2013 @ 08:41 PM

With a scoot, they were off.

Or at least some of them were.

The 2013 Lee Regional Fair Diaper Derby — in which babies are tasked with crawling about 15 feet from one family member to another — was held Saturday afternoon with about a dozen Huggies-clad competitors. Some of the babies shot like a rocket out of mom or dad’s hands toward the finish line and whatever the family decided, in previous strategy meetings, would draw them them over there: a sister, a grandparent, a toy, a bottle, etc.

But most of the babies, despite impassioned pleas and wild gestures from their family, just sat there.

After three semifinals in which one crawler clearly outshone the rest of the field, the finals were not much different.

Gassed from their Secretariat-like defeat of the competition in the preliminary rounds, the three finalists — Brodie Sullivan, Jolie Marlewski and Tae’Quan Cofield, all either 10 or 9 months old — could have gotten off to a

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slow start in the championship race.  Two of them, in fact, did. But Brodie, with his mohawk helping him cut aerodynamically through the breeze blowing through the Sanford Lions Club Fairgrounds, shot off the line.

He immediately broke away for the victory, stopping and doing a little dip just before the finish line like a football player showboating on a wide-open touchdown run. That display, plus the realization that they’d now be fighting for mere second place, seemingly demoralized Jolie and Tae’Quan.

But eventually, Jolie got herself together and struck out for the finish line, while Tae’Quan, the youngest racer of the bunch, stayed rooted to the starting line.

On stage after the event with the other parents she had just won a surrogate victory over, Amanda Sullivan explained that Brody is used to a lot of action and screaming at home thanks to his older sister, so the crowd didn’t distract or scare him like it might have done to others. Those nerves of steel weren’t the only thing Brody’s sister gave him, though. Makenzie Sullivan herself is a previous Diaper Derby winner, having out-crawled the competition in 2008, and mom Amanda said her example helped her little brother out a lot. And how does it feel having raised not one but two champion crawlers?

“So exciting,” Sullivan said. “Just fun, fun, fun.”

The fun will continue, as she gets to rub her victory in the face of second-place Jolie’s mom, Jenny Marlewski, every day at the office. Both work at Myres Animal Hospital, which is run by the victor’s grandpa.

“Dr. Myres has been bugging me all week, saying Brody was going to win,” Marlewski said. “... Lots of trash-talking.”

Her dad, Jon Marlewski, said they didn’t do much training for the event — maybe what allowed Brodie, who is 11 days older than Jolie, to steal the win.

As for third-place Tae’Quan, parents Regine and Tyquan Cofield said they came in hoping for — and expecting — a win, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

“At first, I didn’t see any competition,” Tyquan said of his boy’s fellow racers.

Added Regine: “It’s OK, he’s still going to be a football star.”

And while there won’t be another Diaper Derby for a whole year, people do still have one more day — today — to enjoy the rest of the Lee Regional Fair. Gates open at noon, and senior citizens get in for free. Everyone else can pay $5 or bring five cans of food to donate to the needy.

Attractions today include a halter horse show, performances from UNC cheerleaders and other local squads, and more. It closes at 7 p.m. For the full schedule as well as photos, videos and stories from other days at the fair, visit The Herald’s site for everything fair-related,