Boys Cross Country: Summers, Tonseth share CCC title

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 20, 2009

By Ronnie Gallagher
And the winner of the 2009 Central Carolina Conference boys cross country championship is … Salisbury’s Nick Summers.
Or is it Salisbury’s Philip Tonseth?
As it turned out, the timers at the finish line couldn’t make up their minds. One thought Summers had won with his late lean. Another said Tonseth won with a late sprint.
It goes down in the books as a dead heat. Both were rewarded with an individual title after finishing in 16:55.
“I’m confused myself,” Tonseth laughed a few minutes after the race. “I’m good with a tie. No matter what, we’re both No. 1 in my book.”
Standing next to Tonseth, Summers added, “I felt it could’ve been a tie, too. It doesn’t matter to me.”
Those two, as well as Tyler Downs, made the 12-man all-conference team, leading Salisbury to a second-place finish with 43 points, 17 behind juggernaut Central Davidson.
“I was expecting that,” Salisbury coach Mike Allen said of the photo finish. “They’re both great. They feed off each other. Nick has outstanding speed, but Philip’s no slouch. He’s a fighter.”
Even though Central was a clear pre-race favorite on the Dan Nicholas Park course, everyone figured the two Hornets would battle for first place.
As it turned out, they did just that from start to finish.
“The whole time we were right beside each other,” Tonseth said. “We were going to help each other. We weren’t going to run each other into trees or anything.”
Both ran a 10:16 for two miles, and Summers said they cruised the last mile.
Tonseth was wary of Summers’ finish.
“I knew he’d have a kick; he always does,” Tonseth said. “I tried to win it early but I couldn’t. So I just kept going as hard as I could.”
Summers had the lead with about 50 yards left.
“I was relaxing going in because I didn’t think he had any more in him,” Summers said.
But Tonseth surprised Summers, finding the energy to sprint the last 15 yards. Summers noticed and lunged for the line.
“We crossed at the same time,” Summers said. “We’ve never been that close before. It was a crazy finish.”
But one that both could live with.

After the two Hornets, Central’s Spartans placed seven of the next eight.
That didn’t surprise Tonseth.
“Central’s stacked,” Tonseth said. “They could bring their second team out here and still beat most teams.”
Cody Bivins, Trey Cook, Cody Beck, Alex Walker, Forrest Reynolds and Blake Rumple placed third through eighth. East Davidson’s Rodney Wright was ninth, followed by Central’s Jesse Johnson, East Davidson’s Will Luther and Salisbury’s Downs.
Downs ran a 19:27.

NOTES:Allen’s Hornets have competed this season against Central Davidson and East Rowan. He said those teams “are the deepest I’ve seen in cross country.” … Salisbury will compete in the 2A regionals at Dan Nicholas Park on Oct. 31.