GALION — Shelby’s Kayla Gonzales could have done without all the heat and humidity, but Crestview’s Morgan Welch didn’t seem to mind.
Both Gonzales and Welch raced to individual titles at Saturday’s steamy Galion Cross Country Festival at Amann Reservoir. Gonzales won the Division II girls race in 19 minutes, 22.8 seconds while Welch broke the tape in 19:50.4 in the Division III girls event.
Temperatures were in the upper-80s when both races went off in the early afternoon under partly cloudy skies. The humidity pushed the heat index well into the 90s.
“People tend to say I’m a warm-weather runner. I’m not sure whether that’s right or not,” Welch said. “I guess it was OK.”
Welch jumped out to an early lead and was never seriously challenged. She ran by herself for the entirety of the race as runner-up Gabby Roston of Colonel Crawford finished in 20:39.2 — almost 50 seconds behind Welch.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Welch said. “In the first 100 (meters) it was kind of awkward because I didn’t want to lead.”
Gonzales had a tougher go of it. She finished less than four seconds ahead of runner-up Kennedy Schlessman of Huron, who made a strong push in the final 100 meters.
“I head the cheering and I was like, ‘Oh my gosh,’ ” Gonzales said. “You never know if somebody had a real good kick so I just gave it everything and crossed my fingers.”
Shelby finished third in the team standings with a score of 129. Lexington won the title with a team score of 90. Lady Lex was led by Emma Wise, who finished fifth in 20:00.9.
Wynford won the team title in the Division III girls race with a score of 74. Freshman Briana Westrick paced the Royals with a sixth-place finish of 21:31.1.
In the Division I girls race, Ashland finished seventh with a team score of 167. Madison (244) was ninth.
In boys action, Crestview’s Tommy O’Neill was second in the Division III race, while Shelby’s Huck Finnegan was runner-up in the Division II race. O’Neill finished in 16:53.5 while Finnegan crossed the line in 16:16.3.
“That was by far one of the toughest races I’ve run in,” Finnegan said. “My goal was to stay back the first mile and start catching.”
In the Division I boys race, Ashland was sixth with a team score of 133. Lukah Will was 10th in 16:41.8 to pace the Arrows.