Oak Glen’s Allison, Arner place first | News, Sports, Jobs

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MARTINS FERRY — A lot of practice and training are necessary ingredients to athletic success.

But, at some point, there comes a time when an athlete wants to compete against others to see how and where they stack up.

Oak Glen juniors Konnor Allison and Sophia Arner had been chomping at the bit for that chance basically since last cross country season. As distance runners, they’ve basically been relegated to logging mile after mile on the roads since track season was canceled and the majority of the summer road races were called off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both, however, made the most of their opportunity to put the uniform on and race Saturday morning at the annual Martins Ferry Invitational. Allison crossed the finish line in 17:16.50 to win the boys title, while Arner posted a 21:28 for the first victory of her running career.

Oak Glen finished second in the boys team race to the host Purple Riders, while the girls captured the team title with 59 points.

Team and individual places aside, both Allison and Arner were just happy to be competing.

“It felt good to finally get to race after putting in all of the work,” Allison said. “Not having a track season was tough, so it felt good to be back out here (Saturday).”

“It was great to be (racing) again. I feel really good in terms of my training and everything,” Arner said.

Allison led the race wire-to-wire and never was significantly challenged. Basically, he ran by himself, which was similar to his long runs during the spring and summer months.

“I cruised the last mile-and-a-half since I didn’t have anyone to run with,” Allison said. “I’ve been focused on cross country since track got canceled, and I just wanted to make sure I had a good summer of training in to be ready and it started to pay off today.”

While Ohio has been competing for more than a week, Saturday was opening day for the Mountain State.

And, now that it’s here, Allison is working toward the goals he’s laid out for himself.

“I am definitely going to try to win the OVACs, and I am trying to get top five in the state,” Allison said. “I’m in the best shape of my life, and I feel different than I did last year.”

Allison said he was “confident” that cross country would occur this season. Had there not been a season, Allison would have competed somewhere, somehow.

“We would have found 5Ks or something to race in,” Allison said.

Arner, meanwhile, was disappointed about track season, but she didn’t sulk.

“I trained all the way through with cross country in mind,” she said. “We were still a little skeptical that we’d even have a season just up to a few weeks ago. Our coach has told us to run every race like it’s your last one because you never know what’s going to happen with all of this (COVID) stuff.”

It was about the midway point of the race where Arner began to pull away from Martins Ferry’s Josie Hancock and Indian Creek’s Madison Conrad, who finished second and third, respectively.

“We’d never ran here before, so I tried to conserve (energy) early because I had heard there was a hill early in the course,” Arner said. “Getting the win is great. I am very happy with how it went.”

Neither Allison nor Arner went into Saturday’s meet totally devoid of compeition. Each managed to run competitively a few times this summer, but the opportunities were few and far between.

Both competed in a 15K road race as well as a few time trials. Allison also said he ran a 5K in Weirton.

“That 15K was fun and cool,” Arner said. “I felt prepared.”

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