Bull Dog girls, boys runners sweep inaugural event

Even though the Columbus North boys and girls cross-country teams did not come away with an individual title in Saturday’s Inaugural Columbus North Classic at Ceraland, the depth of the Bull Dogs runners and familiarity of the course proved to be huge.

The seventh-ranked Columbus North girls squad edged out No. 4 Bloomington North 38-44, avenging a loss in last week’s Conference Indiana meet. In the boys race, the No. 14 Bull Dogs won the title against runner-up Silver Creek 58-90.

“Both our boys and girls have really wanted each week to show progress,” North coach Rick Weinheimer said. “The important thing for us was to as a team show that progress. I thought we had a lot of good markers of progress this week.”

With 30 schools that participated in the boys race and 29 in the girls race, schools were divided into two classes for results. North, Columbus East and Jennings County were in the 2A division.

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Erin Sullivan of Southport won the girls race in 18 minutes, 45 seconds for 5,000 meters (3.1 miles). Bull Dog freshman Olivia Morlok finished second in 19:00.

“It was pretty good, and it was good to race this course again with a lot of good teams,” Morlok said. “It’s exciting, and you get a little nervous before (the race), but then once I start racing, I just know I have to race and not focus on being nervous.”

Morlok is no stranger to cross-country after running in middle school.

“Olivia has the experience, but it is a big jump from 3K to 5K,” Weinheimer said. “She is ahead of where I thought she would be at this point. She is learning more and more how to expend her energy over 5K.”

Also for the Bull Dogs, Rachel Brougher placed fourth in 19:13. Arig Tong took sixth in 19:35, while Ana Singhal was 10th (20:27), Sydney Geckler 16th (20:41), Jennifer Gutman 18th (20:44) and Kennedy Kerber 21st (20:51).

“We competed better against a very good Bloomington North team,” Weinheimer said. “That is a good sign. Our people up front ran better, and our pack ran better.”

The East girls finished sixth with 189 points. Emma Mensendiek paced the Olympians with a time of 21:34 to finish 28th. Kristen Lyons took 40th in 22:15, while Ashley Novreske was 43rd (22:29), Amanda Pottoroff 45th (22:40), Hannah Harris 52nd (23:06), Lizzy Frazier 69th (24:09) and Megan Whipple 73rd (24:25).

“It was a really good race for us today,” East girls coach Jesse Shoaf said. “Our younger runners did pretty well. Our times are very good for this early in the season, so we are happy with that. We had good senior leadership with Emma leading the pack for us, so it was a good team race.”

Jennings finished seventh with 196 points. Ashley Heindel finish 30th in 21:37, while Emma Morrison took 33rd (21:45), Nicole Richardson 48th (22:59), Sydney Taylor 50th (23:03), Marley Stearns 53rd (23:08), Alana Deager 70th (24:12) and Patricia Henney 77th (24:38).

“We looked strong in the middle of the race, but we need to work on finishing a little because we looked like we were out of gas,” Jennings girls coach Leah McLeod said. “I was pleased with how the middle looked than what it has in the past couple of races. We all had our season-best times.”

Columbus North’s boys were led by Charlie Allen, who finished ninth in 16:35. Alec Embry took 10th in 16:37, while Elijah Brooks was 11th (16:41), Eli Fischer 13th (16:51), John Sluys 15th (16:57), Justin Spoon 18th (17:01) and Peyton Shelton 25th (17:10).

Jennings placed fifth with 136 points. Alex Hendrix finished runner-up to Silver Creek’s Cameron Stephens among 2A competitors to lead the Panthers in 16:00.

“I tried to stay at the same pace as Stephens,” Hendrix said. “In the end with about 600 meters to go, I started my finish a bit early and got passed. Overall, it was a great race. I will look to get my times down again.”

Franklin Sanders finished seventh in 16:22 for the Panthers. Carter Leak placed 22nd (17:08), while Wayne Komsi was 55th (17:58), Ryan Gasper 56th (17:59), A.J. Siener 69th (18:31) and Jason Gasper 73rd (18:44).

“Alex was in position to win the race, and Cameron got him in the end, but we still expect big things from Alex this year,” Jennings boys coach Bryant Layman said. “As a team, you obviously want to do better, but it’s a long season, and we have been training real hard. What we did today was just a steppingstone, and we competed with some of the big schools.”

East finished 10th with 215 points. Paul Bean led the Olympians with a 16:24 to place seventh. Jonathan Clayton took 31st in 17:18, while Garrett McGaha was 61st (18:09), Michael Zieleniuk 64th (18:17), Josh Sensanbaugher 65th (18:18), Josh Wettschurack 79th (19:01) and Caleb Wettschurack 85th (19:14).

“We saw some big time drops from last week, so I was very happy with how they ran today,” East boys coach Ryan Burke said. “They have been putting in hard work in training, and it is definitely starting to show.”

Curt Eckstein of Oldenburg Academy broke the course record in winning the boys race in 15:10.