BHS cross country teams find Top 10
EDITOR’S NOTE: Because the look back at each day in Bryant athletic history has been so favorably received during the time when there was no sports during the COVID-19 shutdown, BryantDaily.com will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on BryantDaily.com (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).
HOT SPRINGS — All bets were off because of the wet, cold, bluster — sloppy — conditions on the infield of Oaklawn Park which served as the course for the Class AAAAA State Cross Country championship.
Still, the favored teams won and Bryant’s entries earned top 10 finishes in the team standings.
Individually, the Lady Hornets’ Gina Messina turned in a top 10 performance for the third straight year, finishing seventh in a time of 16:28, to earn All-State honors. The Lady Hornets, who finished as runner-up last season, placed fifth this year with 127 points, trailing repeat champion Bentonville (62), Fayetteville (71), Rogers (75) and Mountain Home (104).
The Hornets improved their standing from a season ago, finishing eighth overall with 217 points. Mountain Home, with the top three individual runners at the meet and four in the top 10, won the championship with a miniscule total of 38 points. Rogers was second (64) followed by Hornet rival Russellville (92). Fayetteville, Springdale and two teams the Hornets had defeated during the regular season Lake Hamilton and Cabot, placed ahead of Bryant.
“I think if it had been a dry, fast course today I would have been disappointed with our overall performance,” said Lady Hornets coach Dan Westbrook. “But as anyone who was at this meet will tell you, the conditions were just miserable for running. It was a race where after about a mile everyone was just in survival mode. I’m proud of the effort of all of our girls, it took a lot of mental fortitude just to finish.”
“We did not run particularly well today,” said Hornets coach Bodie Nance. “Our gaps between runners were too large to be effective. As a result, we finished eighth instead of fifth. The conditions kept times about one minute slower than they would have been on a dry course, which played into our hands, but we just didn’t run together long enough to give ourselves a chance.”
Like Mountain Home’s boys, Bentonville’s girls landed the top three spots and four of the top 10 positions. Jamie Owensby was individual medalist. Mountain Home’s Eric Gross paced the boys field.
Joining Messina in the Lady Hornets’ scoring quintet were Mandy Medlin, Candice James, Melanie Butler and Sarah Butler. But Medlin struggled to a 21st-place finish in a time of 17:10 with James finishing 26th in 17:22. Melanie Butler was 32nd with a time of 17:39 with her older sister Sarah finishing in 18:08 to place 45th.
The Lady Hornets’ contingent also included Melanie Steele (19:23), Denise Whitworth (19:46), Tonya Fowler (20:00) and Jessica Graham (20:05).
“Gina got out extremely well and ran strong,” Westbrook said. “Her finish gives her a top 10 medal and all-state status for every year she’s been in a state meet. That’s quite an accomplishment. She has three in a row and can make it four next year as a senior. We’ve never had a girl accomplish that four years straight.”
For the Hornets, senior Nick Taylor led the way. He ran a 17:44 to finish 26th overall with David Stafford right with him at 17:48 and in 27th.
But after that came the injury-plagued Graham Linder who’s 18:26 was good for 48th. Chris Brewer and Cody Walker finished up the top five for the Hornets. Brewer ran an 18:45 to place 59th and Walker was 67th in 18:55.
The Hornets runners also included Joe Holland (19:04), Ethan Thomason (19:55), Josh Brooks (20:24) and Stephen Heasley (20:45).
“Nick just missed a spot on the all-star team that will compete next week against Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri,” Nance noted. “He ran his best race of the season and had conditions been better he would have easily set a personal best for 5K.”
Both teams figure to be strong again next season.
“One good aspect about this team is we only lose one senior,” Westbrook said of the girls. “With eight of our top nine runners coming back next year we should be a definite contender. Our focus now will turn to track and field with our indoor season just around the corner. I think these girls will be extremely fast on the track this year.”
“This has been a good season for us,” Nance said of the boys. “Both the athletes and me as a coach have learned a lot. With only two members of the team graduating and the addition of some talented freshmen, the next few years look bright for the Hornets. Now we will take about a week off and then start focusing on track.”