Just call them the terrific twosome. Or, the dynamic duo. Or, double trouble. No matter what the moniker, the general point remains the same: Sachem North's Jonathan Lauer and Christopher Tibbetts are a package deal.
The two juniors finished first and second earlier this month at the Manhattan Invitational and repeated that performance at the Suffolk Cross Country Division Championships Tuesday at Sunken Meadow State Park.
Lauer won the 5K run, one of the few races where the entire county is pitted against each other in one race, in 16 minutes, 17.52 seconds. Tibbetts was second in 16:24.97.
"It was great to keep the one-two [finishes] going," Tibbetts said. "It was a strong race. There were a lot of really good runners out there. We went out hard, stuck with the front, and were able to pull it out in the end."
Going out hard is not something that Tibbetts is used to doing. But, he knew that in order to lock up the top two spots in a race with the toughest competition the county has to offer, he would need to change his normal strategy, if only by the slightest of margins.
"I stayed up front a little bit longer and got out a little bit harder," Tibbetts said. "Then, when Jon started pulling off, coming down Snake Hill into Cardiac, I stuck with him and was able to keep it until the end."
Having a teammate right their to help push the daunting Sunken Meadow hills can be an invaluable resource, Lauer said.
"We worked together the whole race, from the first 800 meters to the last 800 meters," Lauer said. "Going up Cardiac Hill sure can be difficult by yourself. Having each other for the hills paid off a ton and helped us get a better time."
Lauer said that the two runners were pushed by East Hampton's Erik Engstrom through most of the race but were able to outpace him in the final mile, something he attributes to the outstanding conditioning of the duo.
"It's the mileage Chris and I have put in over the summer," Lauer said "We put in a lot of work at the beginning of the season. It helped us power up those hills and keep the momentum going throughout the race."
Once runners' times were split into divisional categories following the race, Engstrom (16:36.28) was the top runner in Division III; Lauer won Division I. West Islip's Kyle Kelly (16:44.90) bested Division II and Southampton's Gustavo Morastitla (17:18.79) took Division IV.
Sachem East (51 points) won the Division I team title, West Islip (35) won Division II, East Hampton (38) won Division III and Southampton (23) took Division IV.