Girls Cross Country
There is change and stability within the Columbus North cross country program for 2017.
The change is in the coaching, where Danny Fisher and Bethany Scruton take over as respective boys and girls head coach. Both succeed Rick Weinheimer, who retired over the winter after guiding the CN boys for 38 seasons and the Bull Dog girls for 35 years. Fisher has assisted the program for four years, and Scruton has been an assistant the past six years.
The stability is in work ethic and expectations, where both squads strive to continue a legacy of success.
Charlie Allen is the top runner for the boys. He placed 63rd individually in the 2016 state meet with a time of 16 minutes, 48.0 seconds as the team posted a 13th-place finish.
“(Allen) put in a good summer,” Fisher told The Republic, noting that the senior also competed in triathlons in June and July. “I know he’s pretty fit. It’s just translating that to the cross country course.”
Others set to key the boys’ squad include juniors John Sluys, Drew Smith and Sam Horak plus seniors Peyton Shelton, Evan Porter and Drew Thompson. Sluys finished 78th at state in 16:56.1, while Shelton was 143rd at state in 17:36.4.
Those vying for positions include senior Abel Spalding, junior Parker Lee, junior Paxton Rush, junior Rishi Poludasu, freshman Gabe Wills and freshman Collin Pruitt.
“We do a lot of group workouts around their fitness,” Fisher told the newspaper. “One guy is stronger than another one day, and another is stronger the next. They pull each other along.”
For the girls, who finished 12th at state as a team, senior Arig Tong and sophomore Olivia Morlok are the top holdovers. Tong was 72nd at state in 19:53.8, while Morlok placed 83rd in 20:05.6. Also contributing to the state-meet effort were sophomore Kennedy Kerber, 145th in 20:54.0; and junior Emma Smith, 171st in 21:29.9.
Senior Kirsten Ballard, who missed much of last season with an injury, is another key. Others expected to contribute are juniors Sydney Geckler, Abbey Landini and Emma Lawson, senior Madelyn Sanders and freshmen Aric Tong, Mackenzie Barnett, Erin Rawlins and Nela Riddle.
“I’m thrilled with how the summer went,” Scruton told The Republic. “We have a big group of senior girls who have demonstrated great leadership, and their work ethic all summer was phenomenal. I’m looking forward to this season, getting to start meets and seeing their hard work pay off.”
Two athletes who were expected to be among the top seven girls were senior Ana Singhal and sophomore Lily Dozier. Both, however, have moved away.
The team begins its season Aug. 22 with a dual meet against Martinsville at CeraLand. They follow by competing in the Dave Bannon Invitational in Shelbyville on Aug. 26 and host the second Columbus North Classic on Sept. 2. The Conference Indiana meet has been moved to Sept. 16, and the state tournament series opens with the Brown County Sectional on Oct. 7.