Arig Tong may have forgotten what it was like to be a freshman, but her sister was there to remind her.

Freshman Aric Tong was there to help out her senior sister this year both on and off the cross-country course. She helped push Arig to become Columbus North’s top runner and this year’s The Republic Girls Cross-Country Runner of the Year.

“It was nice to have her on the team just because I could ask her about the freshmen and how they felt about things,” Arig said. “She could give me a perspective about how they were feeling toward things. … It helped me be a leader to them because I knew how they were honestly feeling.”

Arig’s running success this season didn’t come as a surprise to first-year Bull Dogs coach Bethany Scruton. But Scruton said Arig really stepped up to become a leader this year.

Scruton said Arig showed a lot of growth in her thought process after races and was able to think what she could do differently in future races. She ended up winning the Brown County Sectional and Brown County Regional races in leading North to team titles.

“I think this year was a really good year for me to go out and push myself and try to stay with the top pack as much as I could,” Arig said.

Born in South Sudan, Arig moved to Columbus with her family in 2005 when she was 5 years old. Her physical education teacher thought she would be good at running and suggested she give it a try.

Arig ran cross-country and track and played volleyball and basketball through her seventh-grade year. She gave up basketball following her freshman year to concentrate on running.

Now, Arig is planning to continue her running career in college. She has has offers from Hanover, Indiana State and Ohio Northern and has either visited or plans visits each of those schools, along with IUPUI. She wants to major in biology and pre-med and become a heart surgeon.

“I think North has really given me a good base and taught me a lot of good lessons, not only for running, but for life in general,” Arig said. “I’m glad that I came to a program that’s so tough just because it’s taught me that if I want to achieve something, I have to go out there and get it.”

At a glance

The Republic All-Area Girls Cross-Country team:

Arig Tong, Columbus North: The senior won the Brown County Sectional and Brown County Regional and finished 15th at the Brown County Regional and 99th at state.

Aric Tong, Columbus North: The freshman finished sixth at sectional, third at regional, 26th at semistate and 166th at state.

Olivia Morlok, Columbus North: The sophomore finished third at sectional and 49th at semistate in an injury-plagued postseason.

Kirsten Ballard, Columbus North: The senior finished seventh at sectional and eighth at regional in an injury-plagued postseason.

Mackenzie Barnett, Columbus North: The freshman finished eighth at sectional, 11th at regional, 43rd at semistate and 150th at state.

Emma Smith, Columbus North: The junior finished 12th at regional, 52nd at semistate and 145th at state.

Ella Anderson, Columbus North: The freshman finished 10th at sectional, 13th at regional, 50th at semistate and 169th at state.

Abbey Landini, Columbus North: The sophomore finished 15th at regional and 170th at state.

Emilia Koester, Brown County: The freshman finished fourth in the Brown County Sectional, sixth at regional and 48th at semistate.

Emma Morrison, Jennings County: The sophomore finished second in the Southwestern (Hanover) Sectional, seventh at regional and 51st at semistate.

Honorable mention

Brown County: Emma DeBord, Anna Fleetwood. Columbus East: Hannah Harris, Olivia Linnemann, Kristen Lyons, Amanda Pottorff, Elizabeth Stevens. Columbus North: Emma Lawson. Jennings County: Kaylee Ebinger, Ashley Heindel, Patricia Henney.

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