The Columbus North girls and the Jennings County boys cross-country teams both had top three team finishes in the Class 2A division of the Second Annual Columbus North Classic at Ceraland.
North sophomore Olivia Morlok’s time of 18 minutes, 46 seconds for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles) was just 10 seconds off of her personal best. She finished third overall to help the Bull Dogs place third as a team.
Columbus North’s 61 points was one point shy of Franklin Central, who placed second behind Bloomington North, who won the girls meet with 37. Jennings County placed sixth with 201 points, and Columbus East’s 210 points gave the Olympians a seventh-place finish.
“It’s our third meet, and I’m excited to keep racing and get to tournaments,” Morlok said. “We just have to keep training and racing hard.”
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Arig Tong finished in 19:31 to place ninth for Columbus North. Both Aric Tong and Kirsten Ballard crossed the line in 20:07, with Aric Tong taking 15th and Ballard coming in 16th. Emma Smith (20:23) placed 18th, Kennedy Kerber (21:10) took 29th and Mackenzie Barnett posted a 21:14 for a 31st-place finish.
Bull Dogs coach Bethany Scruton talked with her runners last week about being more competitive in races and she said they showed that on Saturday.
“They showed more aggressive running today,” Scruton said. “It’s nice to be in a big meet where you have people around all the time. You can tell they enjoy that a little bit better, but overall I was really pleased with our performance today.”
Jennings was led by Emma Morrison, who placed 21st in 20:34). Ashley Heindel (21:25) finished 36th, while Elizabeth Wahlman ran 21:54 for a 42nd-place finish and Kaylee Ebinger’s 22:07 earned her 48th place. Alana Daeger (22:38) finished 54th, Patricia Henney (22:57) took 59th and Lauren Mull (22:58) was 60th.
Jennings coach Leah McLeod said it was a great day for her runners.
“All but two of our runners hit personal records, so that’s pretty exciting for us,” McLeod said. “… We’re seeing faster times because everyone wants to be in that varsity spot.”
Olivia Linneman was the first East runner to cross the line, running 21:06 for a 27th-place finish. Elizabeth Stevens (21:50) took 41st, and Kristen Lyons (22:03) was 44th. Hannah Harris finished 47th (22:06), and Amanda Pottorff (22:17) 51st. Ashely Noverske (22:49) finished 58th, and Lizzy Frazier (23:31) was 66th.
“Our No. 1 through 5 are all improving as the season has gone on,” East girls coach Jesse Shoaf said. “We’re really pleased with that. Olivia Linneman is new to cross-country this season. She just came out, so she’s been a nice surprise for us, and she’s learning her way as she goes along.”
The Jennings boys team finished behind Bloomington North’s 51 points for a second-place finish with 71. Columbus North finished fourth with 117 points, and East placed 13th with 368.
“Anytime you can beat (Columbus) North that bad it’s always a good day,” Jennings boys coach Bryant Layman said. “We beat (Bloomington North) in she semistate last year. We see them next weekend (at Brown County’s Eagle Classic), so we’re going to take our shot at them next weekend.”
Dalton Craig, who finished in 16:10, was the fastest Panther and placed fourth overall. Alex Hendrix crossed the line in 16:27 for a seventh-place finish. Carter Leak (16:37) placed 12th and Franklin Sanders (16:42) finished 17th. Ryan Gasper (17:05) had a 31st-place finish, AJ Siener (17:55) placed 53rd and Jason Gasper’s 18:07 gave him a 57th-place finish.
John Sluys led the Bull Dogs with a 13th-place finish in 16:39. Sam Horak and Peyton Shelton had 18th- and 20th-place finishes in 16:42 and 16:45. Drew Thompson (16:56) placed 27th, and Evan Porter (17:14) took 39th. Rishi Poludasu and Collin Pruitt both clocked a 17:18 for 41st- and 42nd-place finishes.
“We finished fourth as a team which is good, but we still have some work to do and can always improve on that,” North boys coach Danny Fisher said. “Now we know where we stand, and we’ll go back to work on Monday.”
All of East’s competing varsity boys runners posted an individual season best, and Olympians coach Ryan Burke said he couldn’t have asked for more effort out of his team.
“Progress wise, that was a really big step forward,” Burke said. “We still have a lot of ways to go, but if we continue progressing like that, I think we’ll be in good shape.”
Garrett McGaha led East, finishing in 17:56 for 54th place. Michael Zieleniuk ran 18:36 to place 68th. Matthew Novreske (19:10) took 81st, and Colby Hertle (19:12) placed 82nd. Brandon Taylor (19:13) finished right behind Hertle for 83rd place, while Kaden Wise (19:28) took 85th and Jake Helton (19:29) was 86th.