Led by junior Charlie Terry, who finished sixth at the Class 7A State meet last fall with a personal record time of 16:17, the Bryant Hornets return eight of the 10 runners that competed at State as they get ready to open the 2014 season. The Hornets split up for their annual intrasquad meet at Bishop Park this evening then begin the season officially on Saturday, Sept. 6, at the Arkansas Army National Guard Invitational meet in Little Rock.
“We should be pretty strong,” acknowledged Hornets head coach Steve Oury. “I have six guys that broke 11 minutes in the 3200-meter run in track last season and that doesn’t include Connor Wilson who has the second fastest 5K personal record on the team. So, if we can keep everybody healthy, we’re going to have an opportunity to compete for a conference championship.”
The Hornets finished fifth at the 2013 7A-West Conference meet with Terry, Wilson and another returning junior Ben Majors all finishing in the top 20 and earning all-conference honors. This year, Bryant will compete in the Central Conference.
“We’ve got to keep getting stronger and the biggest key is staying healthy,” Oury emphasized. “We’ve got guys that have histories of just nagging little injuries so they’ve got to do their part and take care of those. But having the core group that we have coming back is exciting.”
Terry led the pack last season. Wilson, a senior this year, was Bryant’s second runner at State with Majors, who was second among the Hornets at the conference meet, the team’s fourth runner at State. Nicholas Schmidt, back for his senior season, rounded out the team’s top five.
Also back after representing the Hornets at State are seniors Nathan Stewart and Dru Wen along with junior Derek Vos.
“Nathan and Eric Stewart had breakthrough seasons in track,” Oury noted. “These are all guys that I think have the experience and the ability to make us a pretty good team.”
Asked about the summer work, the coach said, “I feel like the guys that I’m counting on the most worked hard and did what they needed to do. The summer, there’s always the temptation to take some time off but, from what I can tell, they’ve worked hard.
“Unfortunately, the heat is making it difficult for us to do what we’d like to do right now as far as training,” he mentioned. “So the intrasquad meet will give us an opportunity to see just where we’re at fitness-wise. It’ll give us an idea of what we’ll work toward for the first meet.”
The team also includes seniors Kevaunte Mitchell, Antonyo Sanchez, Josh Sanders, and Mark Winn along with juniors Garrett Cobb, Joey Colvert, Travis Cumming, Clayton Harvey, Matthew Hubbard, Justin Karp, Sam Martin, Justice Pryor, Peyton Reber, Edward Sanchez, Cole Watson and Josh Yenner.
The sophomores on the team are Konner Ausbrooks, Samuel Bassham, Landon Booth, John Carder, Carson Cato, Eathan Devine, Braeden Gaines, Austin Guthrie, Noah Hill, Peyton Ipsen, Jakub Jilek, Drew Matthews, Landon Middleton, John Mitchell, Enrique Ramos and Joe Sartini.
The freshman squad is Hunter Apel, Decatur Austin, Ricky Barrientos, Gilberto Cardenas, Jhorman Cruz, Bryand Esparza, Erik Gonzales, Colby Harvey, Eric Helms, Michael Higgs, Jesse Kinder, Wyatt Kirby, Dawson Oakley, Cory Shields, Oscar Smith, Jack Suarez, Edgar Tejada, Henry Ticas and Uriel Velazquez.