Lady Hornets narrowly miss State Indoor title
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continue posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
FAYETTEVILLE — In a close team battle where there was never more than four points separating the top five teams throughout the day, the girls 2006 indoor track state championship came down to the last event. Going into the 1600 meter relay, Bryant was leading the meet by a narrow 1.5 points over Russellville. The Lady Hornet 1600 meter relay team of seniors Samantha Montgomery, Mary Edwards, Kelsey Mitchell, and sophomore Sara Coker knew they had to beat Russellville in the relay to hold on to the team title. Running in a separate heat, without the opportunity for head-to-head competition, the Bryant squad gave a valiant effort but came in fifth in 4:20.8. In the other heat, Russellville’s time of 4:12.8 gave them second place in the race and secured the Lady Cyclones the state championship with a total of 62 points. Bryant with 59.5 points took the state runner-up trophy. Camden Fairview and Rogers tied for third with 55 points.
“It’s tough to lose a state championship by just three points,” declared Lady Hornets coach Danny Westbrook. “There are so many ‘what-ifs’ that enter your head when it comes to points you could have had. Irregardless, I am extremely proud of these young ladies. They competed hard and never quit. One of our team goals was to bring a trophy home. We definitely preferred the championship trophy, but state runner-up is still a great accomplishment.”
The high drama at the end of the meet overshadowed several outstanding individual event performances by the Lady Hornets.
Mitchell started the meet off by winning the 55 meter hurdles in close to a state-record time of 8.6. It was her first career state title. She also added an eighth-place finish in the triple jump with a jump of 32-10.
In the 800m run, Edwards ran with the leaders through the first half of the race then surged to the lead and never looked back as she gave Bryant a second individual event state title with her winning time of 2:25.5. Edwards also finished 3rd in the 1600 meter run with a time 5:30.1.
Freshman Christen Kirchner contributed heavily to Bryant’s point total by placing 2nd in the shot, setting a new school record with a throw of 35-1. She also set a new school record in the pole vault clearing 10-8 to take 3rd place.
Bryant’s 3200 meter relay consisting of Jessica Sowell, Kim Bergen, Lennon Bates, and Edwards finished 2nd with a time of 10:02.
Allison Lowery added a fourth-place finish in the high jump at 5-0 and Brittany Johnson added a sixth-place finish in the shot with a throw of 33-6.
“Kelsey, Mary, and Christen all had an exceptional state meet,” Westbrook said. “We also had several athletes that even though they didn’t score in the top eight places they had personal best performances.”
Westbrook also gave credit to assistant coaches Beth Fenske and Frank Fisher and volunteer coaches Danny Johnson, Hughston Smith, and Chris Kirchner for their coaching leading up to the state meet.