Arig Tong and Charlie Allen went into Tuesday’s crosstown cross-country meet having never won a varsity race.
The Columbus North juniors changed that under almost ideal running conditions. They led eighth-ranked girls and boys teams to victories at Ceraland.
The Bull Dog girls took the top seven spots in a 15-50 win. The North boys followed with an 18-44 triumph.
“I think it was real exciting to watch both of them,” North coach Rick Weinheimer said. “Arig just looked really assertive and aggressive and confident. We’ve had a sense that there’s another gear, and really, with Arig and Rachel (Brougher) and Olivia (Morlok), that gives us three frontrunners. Then, I thought Charlie ran a really strong race.”
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Tong, who was the Bull Dogs’ No. 1 runner for the first time in her career, ran 19 minutes, 13 seconds for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles). She pulled away from Brougher and Tong near the race’s midway point.
Brougher, running her final home race on senior night, finished second in 19:25. Morlok took third in 19:46.
“We’ve all been close,” Tong said. “I just had to work harder, but I knew it was attainable. Today was a hard race, and I definitely had to push myself the whole way.”
North freshmen Lily Dozier and Kennedy Kerber finished fourth and fifth in 21:04 and 21:05. Anna Singhal took sixth in 21:15, and Emma Smith was seventh in 21:22.
East’s Emma Mensendiek finished eighth in 21:35, while Kristen Lyons was right behind her in ninth in a personal best-tying 21:37. Amanda Pottorff took 15th in 23:05, Ashley Novreske was 16th in 23:09 and Hannah Harris 18th in 23:40.
“We’re pleased with our results today,” East girls coach Jesse Shoaf said. “Emma and Kristen are developing great chemistry together, and we’re really happy to get two in the top 10. We don’t usually get that.”
Meanwhile, in the boys race, Allen charged from behind to win in 16:25. Teammate Elijah Brooks, who had led most of the race, took second in 16:43.
East’s Paul Bean broke up a Bull Dog sweep by finishing third in 16:43.
“It was really hard because I knew it was going to hurt at the end if I wanted to (catch up),” Allen said. “I was just thankful that Elijah and Paul were there to pull me along and help me because it definitely would not have been that fast without them.”
North’s Alec Embry finished fourth in 16:51. Justin Spoon took fifth in 17:00, Drew Smith sixth in 17:04 and Eli Fischer seventh in 17:04.
Also for the Bull Dogs, Payton Shelton and Drew Thompson were ninth and 10th in 17:15 and 17:23.
“The boys struggled a little bit on Saturday up at Culver, and we’re not sure why,” Weinheimer said. “It was really important to them to come back and just be aggressive and assertive and feel strong in their racing, and I thought they did all those things.”
Jonathan Clayton finished eighth in 17:12 for the Olympians. Josh Sensanbaugher took 12th in 17:43, while Michael Zieleniuk was 16th in 18:17 and Garrett McGaha 21st in 18:42.
“As a team, I’m really happy with the results from top to bottom,” East boys coach Ryan Burke said. “I thought our guys came out and competed hard, and that was one of our better team races of the whole season.”