Heather and Haley Sandvik don't come from a family of runners, but they're doing their surname proud.

Heather and Haley Sandvik don't come from a family of runners, but they're doing their surname proud.

A month into their time on the Westerville North High School girls cross country team, the freshman twin sisters have emerged as two of the team's top runners. Heather has led the Warriors in all five of their meets, and Haley - the older sister by 30 minutes - is catching up. She's been the team's No. 3 placer three times, No. 4 twice and, in the Bob Reall Invitational on Sept. 24 at Lancaster, No. 2.

"There's kind of a rivalry like all siblings have," Heather Sandvik said. "But more than that, we push each other all the time. It helps both of us. We stay close to each other, but I always try to stay further ahead than her."

The sisters' reputations as strong middle school runners preceded them, and it was Heather Sandvik who quickly shot to the forefront in preseason practice.

"I knew she'd be in my top two for sure," coach Johnny Jackson said. "Then I watched her practice and things started to take shape that she'd not only be in my top two, she'd be No. 1. That first race, she went out with Rachel (Jackson) and about halfway through, she saw she was a bit faster and pulled away. She's confident enough now to set her own pace."

Haley Sandvik's confidence has grown steadily.

"I wasn't sure what to think at the beginning of the season. I'd never raced in a 5K before," she said. "I've done better than I thought I would. I'm just doing my best to stay in the top three."

The Sandvik sisters aren't the only freshmen runners making noise in Westerville, nor are they the only standout siblings.

South freshman Greg Smith has paced the Wildcats four times: in the opening New Albany Invitational on Aug. 24 (21st, 18 minutes, 39 seconds), Watkins Memorial's McGowan Invitational on Sept. 10 (36th, 17:16.3), the Central Ohio Invitational at Three Creeks Metro Park on Sept. 17 (16th, 16:45.3) and in the Otterbein Invitational on Sept. 24 (43rd, 17:57.2).

The only time Smith failed to lead South, in the Westerville North Classic on Sept. 3, classmate Reed Watkins did (16th, 18:19).

The Osuobeni sisters, senior Tarela and freshman Tarike, consistently have been in the top seven for Central. Tarela paced the Warhawks at Otterbein, placing 20th in a season-best 21:25.4. Tarike's best time of 22:13.4 also came at Otterbein, where she placed 33rd.

Heather Sandvik's preseason goal was to break 20:20. That took her three races; she finished 10th (21:11) in the opening Pickerington Classic at Pickerington North on Aug. 27 and fifth (20:30) in the Westerville North Classic on Sept. 3 before going 19:48.1 (fifth) in the McGowan Invitational on Sept. 10. She was 18th (20:20.4) in the Central Ohio Invitational and fourth in 20:43.5 at Lancaster.

Now, she said her goals are to break 19:20 and lead the Warriors to the Division I regional meet.

Haley Sandvik's goal is to break 20 minutes. Her best time is 21:01.14 in the Central Ohio Invitational, where she finished 28th; her best finish is 11th (21:29.5) at Lancaster.

"We have a lot of important races to go," Heather Sandvik said.

•The results were much the same for Central's boys in the Otterbein Invitational, but a few names were different.

In an effort to keep them fresh for later this season, Warhawks coach Jason Loughman gave Brandon Shirey, Josh Edens and Brandon Shaw the weekend off. Senior Meiswa Phiri's 24th-place finish (17:21) led Central (168) to sixth place, behind champion Hilliard Bradley (48).

Shirey, a senior, junior Edens and senior Shaw have been the Warhawks' top three runners, in that order, three times this season. They finished first, second and third, respectively, in the opening Lexington Invitational on Aug. 27 with times of 16:59, 17:23 and 17:46.

The Warhawks placed third (113) on Sept. 3 in the invitation-only Asics Hot Summer Bash at Hilliard Davidson and were fifth (149) in both the McGowan Invitational and the Galion Cross Country Festival on Sept. 17 (196).

•The city's teams will compete in four meets on Saturday, Oct. 1.

Central's boys will be at the Peninsula Woodridge CVNP Invitational in Cuyahoga Valley National Park; Central's girls and North's boys will be at the Midwest Meet of Champions at Hilliard Darby; North's girls will be at the Panther Invitational at Pickerington North; and both South teams will be at the Erin Nance Fall Distance Classic at London Country Club.