Linder leads Bryant’s contingent of qualifiers
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SHERIDAN — Senior Graham Linder improved his personal-best time and won the AAAAA-South Conference championship in the 1600 meter run as the Bryant Hornets qualified for the Class AAAAA State Meet in five events while finishing sixth as a team in the conference.
The Lady Hornets also qualified in five events despite the fact that the stellar 3200 meter relay team was beaten for the first time this season. As a team, the Lady Hornets were sixth, as well.
Pine Bluff swept the team championships. In the boys competition, the Zebras accumulated 137 points. Camden Fairview was second with 125 followed by Lake Hamilton (111), Texarkana (64.5), El Dorado (36.5), Bryant (35), Sheridan (13) and Benton (4). For the girls, the Fillies of Pine Bluff finished with 124 points to 108 for Lake Hamilton. Fairview was third with 88 points followed by Texarkana (56), El Dorado (42), Bryant (37), Sheridan (16) and Benton (0).
Linder ran a 4:26.1 to win the 1600. Senior David Stafford was fifth in the event with a time of 4:40.7.
That duo combined with Mark Pagan and Cody Walker to qualify in the 3200 meter relay. They finished third with a time of 8:20.6.
Stafford also qualified in the 3200 meter run, finishing second in 10:06.1.
In addition, Greg Prewitt advanced to State in the pole vault. He cleared 12-0 to finish third.
All State qualifiers earn all-Conference honors.
The Hornets also picked up points from Josh Koon in the pole vault. He was fifth after clearing 11-0. The 800 meter relay team of Prewitt, Bo Lee, Steven Rushin and Koon ran a 1:39.2 to finish sixth.
Other Hornets that competed included Brian Youngblood in the shot put, Brian Ballew and Ethan Thomason in the 800 meters, and Zach Williams and Michael Parker in the 3200.
“I thought the Hornets competed extremely hard today,” said Bryant boys coach Steve Griffith. “The 3200 relay team ran the fastest time we’ve posted in at least seven or eight years and ranks among the top 10 in the state this year. Graham did a super job winning the 1600 and lowering his personal best by more than five seconds.”
The Lady Hornets 3200 meter relay team, which as posted the best time in the state this season, finished second at the conference meet with a time that would’ve still been the third best in the state entering the day. Lauren Harris, Melanie Steele, Mandy Medlin and Candice James combined on a 10:17.2 clocking.
Medlin qualified individually in the 1600, running a 5:29.8 to finish third. James, likewise, finished third in the 800 to qualify with a 2:28.0 time.
Jessica Graham had the best finish individually for the Lady Hornets. She wound up second in the 3200, qualifying for State with a time of 13:04. Jamie Waldron was sixth in the event in 13:48.
Lady Hornets’ pole vaulter Amy Griffin came through with the fifth qualifying performance. She was third after clearing eight feet.
Bryant also picked up sixth-place finishes in the 1600 meter relay with Steele, Medlin, James and Harris combining on a 4:31.7. Claudia Eberhardt was sixth in the 300 meter hurdles with a time of 52.1 and Tonya Fowler cleared 4-4 in the high jump to finish sixth.
“All our ladies gave a great effort tonight,” said Bryant coach Danny Westbrook.
The Class AAAAA State Prelims were set for Friday, May 3, at Conway.