Hornets turn in strong finish at season-opening meet

ARKADELPHIA — The Bryant Hornets opened their cross country season Saturday at the Bob Gravette[more] Invitational on the campus of Ouachita Baptist University with a second place finish. Defending 5A state champion Little Rock Chrisitian won the meet with a total of 64 points, with Bryant and Lake Hamilton both scoring 87.

Bryant earned the runner-up trophy by virtue of their sixth runner placing ahead of Lake Hamilton's sixth runner. Cabot and Conway rounded out the top five teams. A total of 11 teams and 121 runners competed in the meet.

Junior Tyler Purtle paced the Hornets with a fourth place finish in a new personal record time of 16:36. Sophomore Nicholas Schmidt was the other Hornet to earn a top-20 medal, with a 13th place finish in a time of 17:28.

Rounding out the top seven were Clifton Hampton (21st in 18:06), Jim Dellorto (25th in 18:14), Dru Wen (26th in 18:15), Spencer Adami (29th in 18:30), and Austin Middleton (37th in 18:56).

"I thought our guys did a tremendous job,” said Hornets head coach Steve Oury. “Tyler Purtle ran a very smart race and caught a lot of runners in the second half of the race. Nick Schmidt ran like I thought he could. This may be the second 5k race he has ever run, but I knew he had that kind of potential.

“We were missing Connor Wilson, who is normally our second runner, so our top runners did their best to step up and make up for his absence,” he noted. “Hopefully this race will give us some confidence as the season progresses."

On Thursday, the team will host the annual Hornets Invitational at Bishop Park.

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