Photos by Julie Shelby and Jason Majors
RUSSELLVILLE — At the Cyclone Invitational cross country meet Saturday, the Bryant Lady Hornets put six runners in the top 15 places, including Melinda Murdock’s individual victory, to win the team championship.
Bryant scored 35 points to dominate the field of 13 teams. Mount St. Mary took runner-up with 63 points followed by Little Rock Christian (87), Heber Springs (120), Conway (144), and Russellville (166). There were 143 individual finishers in the race. This makes two team championships on the year for Bryant, which took the OBU title earlier in the season.
Murdock, a senior, went to the lead soon after the start of the race and never looked back. She finished with a time of 20:04, 18 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Erin Woodward of Little Rock Christian.
Junior Caitlyn Bell also took top 5 honors with her third place finish with a time of 20:30. Sophomore Hannah Shelby was eighth place with a time of 21:38.
“With her victory today, Melinda served notice that she is one of the top female cross country runners in the state,” stated Lady Hornets coach Danny Westbrook. “Her time is very impressive considering how hard this course is. She ran a great race. I was also extremely proud of Caitlyn. She ran really close to Melinda most of the race.”
The rest of Bryant’s scorers included Hunter Delaney (11th, 21:55), Talyn Billins (13th, 21:57), and Gabby Crabtree (14th, 22:07). All of Bryant’s top 6 received a top 20 medal.
Sophomore Reagan Smith (30th, 23:53) and junior Lauren Ackley (36th, 24:12) finished out the top eight for Bryant.
“I thought as a team, we ran awesome,” Westbrook said. “Anytime you put six runners in the top 14 places in a field of 143 runners, you are going to have an excellent opportunity to win. We really did a great job of pack running with our second wave of runners.”
Next up for the Lady Hornets is the Chile Pepper Invitational in Fayetteville next Saturday.