May 9 in Bryant athletic history: 2003

Higgs sets new mark as BHS trio qualifies for state finals

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).

FORT SMITH — Sophomore Brooke Higgs set a new Class AAAAA State record while senior Candice James and junior Bryan Ballew turned in personal best times on their way to qualifying for the State finals during preliminaries held at Southside High School on Friday, May 9.

The trio will represent Bryant High School at the AAAAA finals which are scheduled for Saturday, May 17, beginning at 5:30 p.m., at Hot Stadium in Hot Springs.

Higgs led wire-to-wire in her heat of the 800 meter run as she set the new standard of 2:17.4. The old record of 2:18.2 was set by Megan Kale of Fort Smith Northside in 2001.

The top eight competitors in each event at the pre-lims advanced to the finals.

James qualified in the 1600 meter run with a personal best time of 5:24.8.

Ballew’s 10:35.1 was his best to date in the 3200 and qualified him for the finals.

“Brooke’s record-setting time was not only a AAAAA State record but, according to, it’s the eighth fastest 800 meter time for a high school girl in the history of Arkansas track and field,” stated Lady Hornets coach Danny Westbrook. “That is pretty amazing. She was under her splits at every checkpoint and really had a good finishing kick.

“Next week’s 800 meter final should be one of the premier races of the state meet with Brooke, Katya Kostetskaya of Jonesboro, and Paige Farrell of Springdale all capable of running well below 2:15,” Westbrook added.

“I was really happy for Candice,” he continued. “The finals Saturday could be her last race in a Lady Hornet uniform. I know she will give it all she has.”

Regarding Ballew’s performance, Hornets coach Steve Griffith said, “Bryan really ran a smart race and qualified in a very tough field. I think he is capable of bringing his time down below 10:20 next week.”

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