It was a long wait for the Columbian runners. The boys knew there was a good chance they'd be the ones lifting the Northern Ohio League championship trophy with Brandon Gibson taking the individual title, Tyler Lewis right behind him in second and Chris Gates added a seventh place finish.
Yet, it took a few hours for the announcement of the official results.
"I want this win. I'm crossing my fingers we're so close," Lewis said. "Our top three had a really great day. I just wanna win. I just want this trophy so bad. Two years ago we lost by one point."
The Tornadoes didn't have to worry about any near misses this year.
Kyler Lange and Tyler Mesnard added 13th and 16th place finishes, respectively, and Columbian held off Norwalk 39-46 for the boys NOL title.
"It's been a long season. To finally get to this point after having to wait so long, trying to make sure the focus is week-to-week and not focusing on this meet, it's quite a lift off the shoulders," Columbian boys coach John Kihorany said.
"Those top three are the top three every single day in practice," he added. "They pretty much fight each other every single day, before practice, during practice, after practice. Anything that's competitive they're apart of it."
Gibson went out strong with Lewis, Gates and Norwalk's Quentin Howell along side of him. However, it didn't take him long to separate himself from the pack. Before to long Gibson was running against the clock, and a strong final push enabled him to beat the 16 minute mark, finishing in 15:59.
"It feels absolutely amazing," Gibson said of winning the NOL title. "Definitely been working for this since June. All this work finally paid off and it's the best feeling ever.
"Hitting in 15:59 right now, that's just a great feeling too. I just love running sub-16s."
"Being able to break 16 today on this course by himself, with four weeks hopefully to go, I think that's a very, very good statement and a very good sense of where we are," Kihorany added. "Hopefully in the next few weeks he'll have some people to run with him, and push himself and hopefully the next person in line pushing him will be Tyler Lewis or Chris Gates."
Gibson said it was hard with no one around right on his heels, but he was still able to push himself to a good time.
"You got to learn to push yourself with that," he said. "There is no, someone you see them so you feel you gotta go faster. You got to know when you gotta go faster."
Lewis (16:18) held off Howell (16:21) for second.
"I thought we set out at the beginning of the race pretty well," Lewis said. "Calm through the first mile, started pushing it through the second mile, and ran scared my last mile."
On the girls side, Norwalk's Sydnie Fetherolf jumped out to such a big lead, coming down the course's first hill it was hard to tell if she was in the race, or someone out for a warm-up run. And that was less than a mile into the race.
Fetherolf cruised to a first place finish crossing the line in 19:55, but behind her were a host of Bellevue Lady Redmen. All five Bellevue scorers finished in the top 10 to secure the team title with 27 points. Shelby beat out Columbian 59-73 for second.
"I think the girls got on the line today knowing it was a team race," said Bellevue coach Lee Booze. "The focus was all 19 girls were gonna, I don't think stick together, but really work hard for each other. I think that's one of the fun parts about a conference meet. It really has that team feel to it.
"Yeah, we had some good performances up front. I think the girls have the goal, we want to be back here in two weeks for the regional meet. They want to feel good about the course here today. ... Our goal was to get out strong and make the other teams come after us, and they did. Both Tiffin and Shelby's No. 1 girls ran great races today. They're improved since we seen them last. The competition was up for it today and our girls really had to respond after the first mile."
Michaela Fox (20:16) and Madison Scagnetti (20:24) finished second and third respectively for Bellevue.
Columbian's Derra Cheatham followed finishing in fourth place (20:27).
"She's an outstanding freshman, there's no denying that," Columbian girls coach Nikki Hintze said. "She has a great chance next week and she knows that, and she's just been pushing this week. This is a great way to start the tournament run."
Columbian also got top-20 runs from Cassandra Gooding (11th, 21:10) and Alexis Desjardin (15th, 21:39).
Amanda Schwartz (22nd, 22:09) and Marisa Stephens (24th 22:19) rounded out the TC scorers.
"We had a great race," Hintze said. "We came out here wanting to run much faster than we ran at the Carnival and we did that. It's hard to compare course to course. Not all the girls had PRs, because we ran at Galion and this is a little different than Galion. We still ran very strong for this course and they did what they had to do."