Photos courtesy of Julie Shelby and Jason Majors
HOT SPRINGS — Behind a third place individual performance from senior Melinda Murdock, the Bryant Lady Hornets finished runner-up in the team competition at the Lake Hamilton Cross Country Invitational Saturday.
Defending 7A state champion Rogers Heritage won the title with 37 points. Bryant finished with 90 points followed by Lake Hamilton (93), Mount St. Mary (148), Little Rock Christian (161), Cabot (277), Watson Chapel (303), and Conway (307). There were 33 teams and 235 individual runners in the race.
“Despite the substantial margin between us and Heritage, I thought we had some really strong performances,” said Lady Hornets coach Danny Westbrook. “Melinda just keeps getting faster each meet and her time at this meet put her as one of the all-time top two runners to ever compete here at Bryant.
“Heritage is a very good team,” he acknowledged. “They won the State last year and did not lose anyone to graduation.”
The two teams will hook up again on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at the 7A-West Conference championship meet at Rogers High School.
At Saturday’s race at Oaklawn Park, Murdock ran with the leaders from the start and used her strong kick to finish third overall. Her time of 19:17 tied the Bryant 5K school record that she now shares with former Lady Hornet standout Hannah Raney. Raney is currently a freshman competing for Southern Arkansas.
Junior Caitlyn Bell turned in her best performance of the year by taking 11th place with a time of 20:24. Freshman Sydney Wilson made her debut for the high school team in grand style by finishing 18th place in 20:50. Also receiving one of the top 30 medals was junior Talyn Billins (24th, 21:06).
The rest of Bryant’s scorers were Hannah Shelby (46th, 21:54), Gabby Crabtree (54th, 22:01), and Hunter Delaney (79th, 22:59).
“Caitlyn Bell had a great performance and Sydney Wilson moving up from junior high is going to help us tremendously,” Westbrook noted. “I also thought Talyn Billins really had a break-out performance today.”
The Lady Hornets won the team championship in the junior varsity race. Bryant scored 44 points followed by Mount St. Mary (65), Conway (82), Little Rock Christian (93), and DeQueen (94). There were seven teams and 90 individual runners in the race.
Reagan Smith ran with the leaders throughout the race and secured a top 5 medal with her third-place finish in a time of 22:14. Melissa Barrientos was Bryant’s second finisher at 10th place in 23:21. The rest of the scorers were Lauren Ackley (16th, 23:55), Marley Adams (17th, 24:08), and Anna Smedley (20th, 24:21).
Finishing out the top seven were Monica Griffin (21st, 24:25) and Kaylee Butler (23rd, 24:35).
Running without the services of freshman Sydney Wilson who moved up to the high school this week the Junior Lady Hornets finished runner-up at the Lake Hamilton Invitational. Russellville won the title scoring 95 points followed by Bryant (123), Genoa (140), Little Rock Christian (176), and Cabot (163). There were 22 teams and 300 individual runners in the race.
Bryant was led by freshman Rachel Curtis who finished 16th in 14:31. Mary Catherine Selig was 20th with a time of 14:43. Camryn Bolton (23rd, 14:48) and Jessica Butler (30th, 15:07) also secured top 30 medals. Lauren Hart finished out the scoring with her 41st place in 15:23.
Finishing out the top seven were Anne Cockmon (48th, 15:29) and Jasmine Reeves (74th, 16:01).
The Junior Lady Hornets will wrap up their season on Nov. 2 at the Walmart Junior High championship meet at Cabot.