Jacob Dumford of the Westerville North High School boys cross country team spent much of his senior season running neck-and-neck with classmate Kent Ford.
But in the Division I state meet Nov. 3 at National Trail Raceway, Dumford figured he'd have a different running mate.
Banking on hanging with Tipp City Tippecanoe's Sam Wharton, Dumford made a hard move in the second mile but couldn't catch Wharton, finishing second in 15 minutes, 17.61 seconds, eight seconds out of first.
"I kind of sat back and let a lot of people block the wind for me," said Dumford, who ran 15:51.81 to win the regional Oct. 27 at Pickerington North. "Then in the second mile, I saw Sam Wharton, who I knew coming in if I didn't win, he was probably going to. He started moving really hard the second mile and dropped me."
Dumford was the first of seven central Ohio runners in the top 25 -- the group that earns all-state honors -- and led the Warriors to 151 points and a fourth-place finish behind champion Cincinnati St. Xavier (71). Ford was fifth in 15:29.11, but North coach Dave Weaner gave some credit to No. 4 runner Matt Parkhurst, a freshman who progressed throughout the race to finish 83rd (16:27.67).
"We're not fifth or sixth because he pushed a little bit harder with about a half-mile to go," Weaner said.
Senior Nicholas Chatel was 33rd (15:57.07) for North and junior Evan Larrick was 110th (16:42.53), followed by junior Nick Horton (135th, 17:09.01) and senior Seth Wenrich (136th, 17:12.9).
The Warriors' path to state included a first-place finish in the OCC-Cardinal Division meet Oct. 13 at Hilliard Darby, in which they scored 34 points to finish ahead of Dublin Jerome (51), Hilliard Bradley (95), Darby (113), Dublin Scioto (148), Westerville South (150), Westerville Central (164) and Worthington Kilbourne (182). Dumford and Ford were first (15:15.27) and second (15:21.06), respectively.
In the 13-team district 1 meet Oct. 20 at Watkins Memorial, Ford's first-place finish (16:55.71) and Dumford's second (16:55.98) powered the Warriors to 45 points and first place ahead of runner-up Pickerington North (48). Then at regional, Dumford was first (15:51.81) and Ford was second (15:51.95) as North scored 79 points to win the 16-team meet ahead of runner-up Hilliard Davidson (88).
Weaner said this year's successes weren't totally unexpected.
"It started a few years ago. We knew this batch was a great group," he said. "It's the combination of a lot of hard work and being able to stay focused. Coming to a postseason meet and thinking a lot about that can de-focus you so fast because you can get caught up in the glamour and excitement. Your adrenaline does more thinking than your brain.
"We've had good individuals. We've had good teams. This team came together, helped each other and kept each other on the straight and narrow, literally. They believe in the system and bought into it: Faith, family, friends, God and running."
Sandvik sisters finish strong
North's sophomore sister tandem of Heather and Haley Sandvik placed 20th and 91st, respectively, in the Division I girls state meet.
Heather Sandvik finished in 18:33.34 to earn all-state honors, followed by Haley in 19:35.57. Heather was 63rd (19:32.07) in last year's state meet.
"I got with some people and then they got (ahead of) me. I tried to stay with some people I knew from Dublin Scioto, but that didn't quite work," Haley said. "I just tried to run my race. I was pretty nervous, but I think I did OK."
The Warriors finished sixth (196) behind champion Davidson (50) at regional, two spots from a state berth. They advanced by finishing third (98) in the 14-team district 1 meet behind champion Davidson (35) as the top six teams moved on.
In the OCC-Cardinal meet, North was third (72) behind champion Scioto (40) and Jerome (66) and ahead of Bradley (100), Darby (109), Central (146), Worthington Kilbourne (173) and South (231).
The Warriors lose seniors Heidi Engelhardt and Sarah Koch. Expected returnees other than the Sandvik sisters include sophomores Anna Kocak, Jocelyn Sharpe and Mary Swatzell and freshman Madie Gauthier.