Photos courtesy of Vicki Westbrook and Julie Shelby
FAYETTEVILLE — The Bryant Hornets track team has captured the 2015 Class 7A State championship today at the meet held at Ramey Junior High in Fayetteville. New school records were set in five events.
In winning the first boys State track and field title in school history, the Hornets finished with 118 points to knock off defending champion Bentonville, which finished with 103. Fayetteville was third with 94 points followed by Rogers (83), Springdale Har-Ber (81), Rogers Heritage (54.5), Conway (31), Cabot (17), Little Rock Catholic (16), North Little Rock (15), Fort Smith Southside (13), Fort Smith Northside (10), Van Buren (6), West Memphis (4) and Springdale (3).
It’s the first time since 2006 that a team from outside northwest Arkansas has won the title. That year was the last one in which 32 teams made up the largest classification instead of the current 16.
“Winning this meet is a dream come true,” said Hornets coach Steve Oury. “I really thought that we had to have a perfect meet and have a little help from some other teams, and that’s exactly what happened.
“I am so happy for these boys,” he added. “They have worked so hard not just this season, but for years, to reach this goal. It was a complete team effort. We had 15 different athletes score, and we needed each and every one of them. This is such a special group of young men; great athletes and great kids.
“I’m also so happy for our coaches,” said Oury. “I’m so lucky to have Coach Brad Stroud’s help. I know I can just turn our jumpers over to him and let him work his magic. Also, our ninth grade boys coach, John Orr, coaches all of the throwers, both boys and girls, and does such a great job. His hard work paid off when Dany Murillo placed third in the shot put and Madre Dixon earned eighth in the discus. Those were points we weren’t counting on, so it really set the tone for the rest of the day.
“Coach Keith Dale did a great job working with our hurdlers and vaulters. Also, I’m so grateful to work alongside Coach Danny Westbrook. He brought me out here to Bryant 12 years ago and I will be forever thankful for that as well as his friendship.”
Brenden Young won two individual events. Steven Murdock and John Winn each won one and the trio combined with Pierce Finney to win the 4X400 in a school record 3:18.39 to cap off the victory. They already led by 11 points going into that final event with no way anyone could catch them at that point, even if the 4×400 had gone stunningly wrong.
Bentonville led Bryant by a point through 14 events but the next in line was the 200-meter dash, which Murdock won in a school-record time of 21.92 with Winn third at 22.13.
Charlie Terry followed up with sixth-place points in the 3200, running a 9:59.69 and Bryant was in the driver’s seat.
The Hornets claimed the title despite the fact that they were without representation in one of their best events, the 4×100-meter relay, due to a dropped baton in the event at the 7A-Central/East Conference meet. They nevertheless earned the league crown.
Young won both hurdles races and set a new school standard in the 300. In the 110 high’s, he ran a 14.76. In the 300 lows, he finished in 38.17 with teammates Raphael McCuien sixth (41.96) and Landon Abernathy eighth (42.40).
Along with his third in the 200, Winn set a new school record with a winning time of 48.62. Murdock second in 48.96 and Finney seventh in 50.81. Winn’s 10.97 in 100 was second only to Heritage sprinter Joey Saucier (10.88).
Mar’Kevious Nelson set a new school mark and scored big for the Hornets in the long jump and triple jump. He was third in both events. In the triple, he covered 47-07.5 to break the previous best at BHS. In the long, he leapt 21-07.75. Devon Davis also scored in the lone jump with a leap of 20-01 to place eighth.
In the 800, Mark Winn picked up fourth-place points with a 1:59.58. Joe Sartini got in the scoring as well with a 2:02.27 for eighth.
Murrillo’s shot put of 47-08.25 garnered third-place points, while Dixon finished eighth in the discus with a throw of 129-02.
The quartet of Davis, Druid Wen, Sartini and Terry combined on an 8:20.65 clocking to earn sixth-place points in the 4X800 relay.
“We were expected to score big in the 400 with John Winn and Steven Murdock, who went 1-2 in spectacular fashion but then Pierce Finney came through with a big personal record and earned a seventh-place finish,” noted Oury. “On paper, Bentonville should have outscored us in the 300 hurdles but we outscored them 14-4 because of Brenden Young’s amazing run, as well as huge personal records from Raphael McCuien and Landon Abernathy which earned them sixth and eighth place. I thought that was really a turning point.
“We then outscored them in the 800 when Mark Winn and Joe Sartini combined for 6 points and, in the blink of an eye, we were only one point behind with some of our strongest events remaining,” he continued. “I’m so proud of Steven Murdock, who has finished second so many times, for breaking through with such a monster performance in the 200. Just amazing. Then with the meet on the line, Charlie Terry did exactly what he needed to do in the 3200-meter run, which was finish ahead of Bentonville’s first runner.
“It was such a great feeling to know that the meet was clinched before the 4 x 400 relay,” the coach concluded. “The way they ran in the 4 x 400 was just icing on the cake.
“It was an incredible day to be a Bryant Hornet.”