BENZONIA — Traverse City Central lived up to the hype.
So did Holly Bullough.
The Trojans' girls cross country team, ranked nationally in one preseason poll, showed they were worthy of that billing when they took first in the large school division of Saturday's Pete Moss Invitational at Benzie Central High School.
Bullough, coming off a standout year as a freshman when she finished second overall at the state finals, got her sophomore season off to a rousing start by winning the girls small school division race with a personal best time of 18:12.
Not to be outdone was the TC Central boys team, which had the top three finishers in the boys large school race — Kyle Dotterer led the way with a winning time of 15:55 — as the Trojans took top honors in the boys large school division.
Central's girls ended up with 47 points to outpace Grand Rapids Christian (81). Midland Dow had the top two individual finishers, but ended up third (112) and Traverse City West was fourth (119). Benzie Central took fifth and Cadillac was seventh among other local teams.
Ashley Ko led the Trojans with a third-place finish (18:47), followed closely in fourth by Molly Peregrine (18:50). Graceanne Tarsa was 13th in 19:56, Kalina Pfannenstiel placed 18th (20:05) and Joy Reist took 19th (20:09).
"It's really exciting," said Ko. "We've put a lot of effort and work into this. Our goal going into this wasn't to win. It was just about effort and how much we gave in this race and working together, so we're really happy. I was really excited about that (time). I wasn't really expecting it. I was mainly focusing on my effort, where I was in the race. I felt pretty strong toward the end of the race. Toward the beginning it was really hard but I stayed positive and my teammates helped a lot. Molly helped so much. I'm really proud of my team. It was a good race."