May 8 in Bryant athletic history: 2004

Lady Hornets capture conference crown

EDITOR’S NOTE: In this time of COVID-19, with no sports action, will be posting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).

Results at recent track meets had Bryant Lady Hornets head coach Danny Westbrook pointing to Conway or Little Rock McClellan as the favorites to win the AAAAA-Central Conference girls championship the week before the meet was held at Bryant Stadium.

But when it came down to it on Saturday, May 8, it was Westbrook’s own Lady Hornets who put together a championship performance, capturing their first Central conference title since joining the league two years ago. Behind 27 points from junior distance runner Brooke Higgs and 24 from sophomore Kelsey Mitchell, the Lady Hornets amassed a whopping 169 points to earn the title going away. McClellan finished a distant second with 125 points. Conway was third with 114.

“One of our team goals at the start of the season was to win this conference title,” Westbrook stated. “I know the cliché is used a lot, but this title was a total team effort. These ladies are a great group to work with. They work hard and compete hard. We have a great track and field coaching staff as well and I appreciate their hard work.”

On Saturday, May 15, the Lady Hornets will compete in the 2004 Class AAAAA State championships at Lake Hamilton High School. Seventeen Bryant athletes qualified to compete at State and, according to Westbrook, they could have a chance at bringing home a trophy.

“We are definitely not the favorite going into the State meet,” he asserted. “I would guess that honor would have to go to Fayetteville. They won the indoor title back in March. We are just going to go into the meet with the attitude of competing to the best of our ability in the events we qualified in and, if we have a great day, we could surprise some people.”

Sounds a lot like what Westbrook was saying before last Saturday.

State qualifiers for the Lady Hornets include Higgs in the 3200, 1600 and 800 meters, as well as being a member of the 3200 meter relay team along with Jessica Sowell, Mary Edwards and Kim Bergen.

Edwards also qualified in the 800 and 1600 while Mitchell qualified in the 100 meter hurdles, the long jump and triple jump. Jessica Norris qualified in the triple jump as well. Rachel Burnette and Tonya Fowler qualified in the pole vault, Liz Griffis and Amber Bengtson in the high jump, Amanda Defoe in the shot put and Lindsey Miller and Rachel Moran in the discus.

Higgs won the 800 meter run, setting a new conference record by a full four seconds with a time of 2:23.7. She was second in the 1600 (5:26.1) and the 3200 (12:33.3).

In the closest, most thrilling races of the day, Mitchell edged McClellan’s Ashley Stewart with a lunge at the finish line in the 100 meter hurdles. Both were timed at 15.7 and it took a close review of the video timer to determine that Mitchell had, in fact, won.

Mitchell’s qualifying long jump of 16-10 earned a third place finish. In the triple jump, she was fourth by covering 32-4. In addition, she added seventh-place points to the Lady Hornets’ total in the 300 hurdles, finishing in 54.1.

Norris broke the school record in the triple jump for the third time this season, finishing second with a jump of 33-8. She also finished eighth in the high jump (4-8) and the long jump (15-5).

Also in the high jump, Bengtson finished second to qualify for State with a personal best height of 5-1. Griffis was fourth, clearing 4-10 and Fowler eighth (4-8).

Bengtson, who scored 15 points altogether, finished sixth in both hurdles races (17.19 in the 100, 53.5 in the 300).

Edwards, a sophomore, accumulated 17 points, finishing second in the 800 (2:26.1), third in the 1600 (5:37.4) and seventh in the 3200 (13:19).

In another thrilling race, the Lady Hornets won the 3200 meter relay with the team of Sowell, Sam Montgomery, Bergen and Nicole Sample. Bryan took the lead early but had to hold off a late charge by Conway and Mount St. Mary’s to secure the win with a time of 10:27.

The Lady Hornets picked up big points in the field events overall, something Westbrook had hoped for but was uncertain of earlier in the week. DeFoe stepped up with a third-place shot put of 30-3. Miller’s throw of 29-3 was good for sixth. In the discus, Miller had a fling of 86-10 which was good for third. Moran’s toss went 80-6 to garner a fourth-place finish. DeFoe’s throw of 79-1 was just short of qualifying, but earned fifth-place points, and Brittany Waddle pitched in with an eight-place finish with a throw of 61-8.

In the pole vault, Burnette cleared 7-6 to finish second. Fowler was fourth (6-6), Waddle sixth (5-6) and Griffis seventh (5-0).

Other top eight scorers for Bryant included Sowell in the 1600 (5th in 5:53), Sample in the 3200 (fifth in 13:10.2), and the 1600 meter relay team of Edwards, Higgs, Mitchell and Bengtson which was fifth in 4:25.6.

Jessica Finley contributed a sixth-place finish in the 3200 (13:16) and the 400 meter relay team of Reagan James, Norris, Michelle Ford and Britain Owens also came in sixth. Owens also added an eighth-place finish in the 300 hurdles, finishing in 55.1.

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