North runners open season with victories

A new era of Columbus North cross-country began Tuesday evening with easy wins for the Bull Dog boys and girls.

North beat Martinsville 18-43 in the boys meet, then saw its girls put together a perfect score in winning 15-48. That gave new boys coach Danny Fisher and new girls coach Bethany Scruton, who replaced longtime boys and girls coach Rick Weinheimer, their first head coaching victories.

“I thought (the girls) came out and attacked it really well,” Scruton said. “Our training has been really good all summer and the last couple weeks leading up to (Tuesday). I think they were just kind of itching to race, and they got out there and ran hard.”

In the boys race, North’s John Sluys outsprinted teammate Sam Horak to win the 5,000-meter (3.1-mile event) in 16 minutes, 50 seconds. Horak finished in 16:52.

The only other time Sluys had won a race came in last year’s Freshman-Sophomore event at Brown County’s Eagle Classic.

“It was a bit warm out today, and it really impacts you,” Sluys said. “I feel like I ran my best today. We trained most days during the summer and got in some good mileage.”

Peyton Shelton finished fourth in 17:15. Drew Thompson took fifth in 17:17, while Charlie Allen was sixth (17:34), Colin Pruitt eighth (17:49) and Abel Spalding ninth (17:51).

Fisher was happy with the way his team performed in its first meet.

“It’s hard to compare them to anything besides this meet last year, and most of them ran a lot better than they ran last year at this meet,” Fisher said. “It’s a starting block. It’s something to build on each week now.”

North’s Olivia Morlok won the girls race in 20:18. Kirsten Ballard finished second in 20:54. Kennedy Kerber took third in 21:23, while Sydney Geckler was fourth in 21:32, Emma Smith fifth (21:43), Emma Lawson seventh (22:27) and Madelyn Sanders eighth (22:30).

The Bull Dogs were without a couple of girls who were expected to be among their top runners. Lily Dozier found out last week that her family is moving to Portland, Oregon, and Arig Tong was in Indianapolis with her family at a ceremony to receive U.S. citizenship.

Still, North’s depth was on display.

“I’m happy to get our first meet over with, and I’m excited for the season,” Morlok said. “We’ve all been training really hard, and I’m excited to see where that can take us this year.”

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Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.