North runners beat heat, Olympians

Four years ago, the Columbus North-Columbus East cross-country meet was moved from the first week of September to the last week of the month because of a heat index near 100 degrees.

The dual meet has remained in the last week of September the past three years, but Tuesday, the heat was still present. Although it was only in the high 80s, most times were a little slower than usual for this time of year.

“It was really hot,” said North senior Arig Tong, who won the girls race in 20 minutes, 23 seconds for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles). “It was definitely dedicated runners weather because you can’t even go out there and run hard. You really have to mentally prepare. I’m just glad I didn’t slow down, and Olivia (Morlok) and I could work on our running dynamic.”

Arig Tong, Morlok (second in 20:25) and Aric Tong (third in 20:27) led the 20th-ranked Bull Dogs to a 15-50 win. The North boys also won 15-50 on senior night for both schools.

Mackenzie Barnett finished fourth in 21:32 for the Bull Dog girls, who took the top seven places. Kirsten Ballard took fifth in 21:52, while Ella Anderson was sixth (21:56) and Emma Smith seventh (21:58).

“I was just really proud to see them pack up with the girls that were in front of them in the last couple races and just really work together to move up and try to get a good time,” North girls coach Bethany Scruton said. “I thought they did really well.”

East’s Olivia Linnemann and Kristen Lyons finished eighth and ninth in 22:01 and 22:20. Elizabeth Stevens took 14th in 22:55, while Hannah Harris was 16th (23:50) and Amanda Pottorff 17th (23:51).

The Olympians were tuning up for Saturday’s Hoosier Hills Conference race on the same Ceraland course.

“For the heat and the conditions, I thought we did really well,” East girls coach Jesse Shoaf said. “Everybody was in that time zone that I kind of wanted for tonight, being an after-school race. Everybody was close to their (personal-best) times, and I was happy with how they did.”

North senior Charlie Allen won the boys race in 17:08. He caught teammates Sam Horak and Drew Thompson midway through the race and pulled away.

“I felt good,” Allen said. “My races recently, I haven’t been happy with them, but then today, I kind of relaxed a little bit at the start. I was a little bit behind until halfway, and then I felt really good the rest of the race.”

Horak edged Thompson 17:21 to 17:22 for second. John Sluys finished fourth in 17:29, and Rishi Poludasu was fifth in 17:40.

The Bull Dogs took the top nine places. Peyton Shelton was sixth in 17:53, followed by Spencer Sherlock (17:56), Evan Porter (18:03) and Abel Spalding (18:11).

“The things we wanted to look for today was just being aggressive, working as a team and closing hard over the last half of the race, which is what’s going to separate us from a lot of teams come tournament time,” North boys coach Danny Fisher said. “We’re focusing on a lot of things that will help us down the road.”

The meet was the regular-season finale for the Bull Dogs, who will see East again in the Oct. 7 Brown County Sectional.

Garrett McGaha led the Olympians with a 10th-place finish in 18:18. Michael Zieleniuk took 15th in 19:11, while Colby Hertle was 21st (19:56), Nick Walter 24th (20:13) and Kaden Wise 26th (20:24).

“I thought given the conditions and being a weekday meet and all, all the things working against them, they came out and worked hard and I thought they had a pretty good performance today,” East boys coach Ryan Burke said.

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