Messina outduels Bauman to extend unbeaten streak
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).
By ROB PATRICK
Freshman Gina Messina remained unbeaten in her brief high school cross country career by outdueling Russellville’s Bethany Bauman once again and pacing the field at the annual Bryant Invitational at Mills Park Saturday.
Messina led the Bryant Lady Hornets to a team victory at the event. They edged Conway, 51 points to 54. Lake Hamilton was third in the nine-team senior girls competition with 77 points.
Second-ranked Conway continued to shine among the boys teams, winning the team title with 41 points. Cabot was second in the seven-team field with 56 followed by Russellville (66) and Bryant (97).
Matt Hill of Russellville, the favorite to take top individual honors at the Class AAAAA State meet in early November, was individual medalist among the boys with a 15:47 clocking, almost a minute better than second place Jason Gerber of Lake Hamilton.
Bryant was led by Tim McCall’s 16:57 which garnered a sixth-place finish overall.
Four junior high schools competed at the meet as well with Russellville Gardner sweeping both the girls and boys competition. The Russellville boys compiled a perfect score for the second week in a row as Chase and Travis Feltner led a top-five sweep. The Russellville girls were led by Lacy Hughes who paced the field with a time of 8:52. She was one of three Lady Whirlwinds in the top five.
Bryant’s junior teams both finished second. The Lady Mustangs finished with 42 points to Russellville’s 22. They were led by Melanie Steele who ran a 9:18 to finish ninth. The Mustangs, meanwhile, finished with 49 points to Russellville’s 15. The Mustangs’ Casey Jacuzzi, Graham Linder and Stephen Heasley were the only runners in the event that were not from Russellville to crack the top 10. Jacuzzi was sixth in 11:12 with Linder seventh in 11:13. Heasley finished ninth in 11:16.
“It was a good day for us,” commented Bryant head coach Dan Westbrook. “It was one of the biggest meets of the year. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger every year. The park was full. And, you know, nobody really knows what it takes to put on one of these things. We had several parents volunteer and help out and I really want to thank all of them.
“The senior girls — Gina won again and is undefeated,” Westbrook mentioned. “The team won barely. Ashley (Leonard) is normally our third runner but she became our fifth runner. Angela Garner really stepped it up, though. She had a better day than she’s been having, so I was happy with that.
“Beating Conway by three — we’ve normally been just destroying them and that was a little disheartening to see,” added the coach. “Conway ran real well for them, but we didn’t do too hot for us, I didn’t think. And this week, we’re going up to Fayetteville (to the prestigious Chili Pepper Invitational) and we’re going to see all those good teams up there, so hopefully, we’ll do better team-wise. If we run like we did (at Bryant), we’ll be in big-time trouble because we didn’t run well as a team.
“I am looking forward to see how Gina will do up there against that kind of competition,” Westbrook continued.
Messina ran a 15:18 to win Saturday at Mills Park. Bauman finished in 15:31.
Mandy Medlin also placed in the top 10 for Bryant. Here 16:17 was good for ninth. Garner, Denise Whitworth and Leonard rounded out the Lady Hornets’ top five, finishing 14, 15 and 16, respectively. Garner ran a 16:51, Whitworth a 17:11 and Leonard a 17:21.
Also, for the Bryant girls, Johnna Harrison ran a 17:56 to place 30th with Whitney Hall 32nd in 18:00 and Jill Glenn 34th in 18:03. The Lady Hornets’ Jennifer Smith ran an 18:47 as did Carrie Jackson. Carly Harris finished in 21:05 with Candace Fletcher at 21:10 and Jessica Adams at 24:29.
“The guys improved,” Westbrook stated. “I saw much better intensity. They raced rather than just kind of touring the course, so I was real happy with them. I think as the weather’s cooling off, they’re getting their legs back up under them, we’re just going to keep improving.”
There was still a gap between McCall and the rest of the Hornets. Chris Brewer was Bryant’s second runner. His 17:48 took 18th place. Travis Bull ran an 18:32 to place 26th with Josh Williams (30th in 18:44) and Nick Taylor (31st in 18:45) rounding out the top five.
Cory Everett was close behind Williams and Taylor for the Hornets, running an 18:50 to place 33rd. Tim Dennis was 38th in 19:07 followed by Matt Standfill in 43rd with a time of 19:34. The Hornets’ Wade Tollett ran a 20:41 with Andrew Jones turning in a 20:59. Nate Johnson ran a 22:31, Josh Roberts a 25:28 and David Glenn a 26:23.
“Team-wise, the junior high teams are still chasing Russellville, but we keep improving,” Westbrook said. “We’ve got one more meet to try to close the gap on them.”
The junior high teams will be off until they end their season Oct. 31 at the Central Arkansas Christian Invitational in Maumelle.
Following Steele in scoring for the Lady Mustangs were Candice James, Audrey Manna, Ashleigh McCorkel and Judy Manna. James ran a 9:20 to place 11th overall with Audrey Manna right behind in 12th with a time of 9:30. McCorkel ran a 9:32 to place 14th and Judy Manna was 15th in 9:35.
Megan Moss also finished in the top 20 overall for Bryant with a 9:57 which placed her 19th.
Robin Thompson’s 10:02 garnered 21st place with Alicia Wallace 27th in a time of 10:10. Brooke Sutton ran a 10:36 for the Lady Mustangs placing 32nd. Amanda Young was on her heels with a time of 10:39 to place 34th. Jennifer Pierce was 36th (10:48), Melissa Robinson 37th (10:49) and Courtney Alexander 38th (10:53).
In addition, the Lady Mustangs included Amanda Freeman (10:57), Amy Griffin (11:04), Stephanie Farish (11:14), Michelle Lewis (11:23), Amy Hanson (11:38), Ginger Spencer (12:07), Heather Toopes (12:24), Megan Sanchez (12:28), Amanda Williams (12:38), Mary Knetzer (12:49), Lizelle Hattingh (12:53), Amanda Baumbeck (13:23) and Jessica Ringo (13:23).
The Mustangs’ top five was rounded out by David Stafford and Ryan Witherspoon. Stafford finished 11th overall with a time of 11:24 and Witherspoon was 17th in a time of 11:57.
Jonathan Hensley was also among the top 20 finishers. His 12:07 was good for 19th.
The next group of Mustangs included Allan Stanford, Ethan Thompson and Joe Holland who finished 21st, 22nd and 23rd, respectively. Stanford ran a 12:16, Thompson and Holland were clocked at 12:17. Chris Moore ran a 12:25 to place 28th and Justin Cochran worked up a 12:28 to take 29th.
Cody Walker finished 32nd for the Mustangs with a time of 12:41. Geoffrey Edwards was 33rd (12:47), Zeke Bryant 35th (12:52), Matt Burbank 36th (12:53) and Greg Prewett 38th (12:57).
Also competing for the Mustangs: Aaron Watkins (13:20), Johnathan Tebbetts (13:36), Bryan Smith (13:37), Rusty Hobbs (13:50), Chris Donovan (14:01), Brad Burnette (14:08), Brad Denman (14:16), Scott Johnson (14:18), Jacob Carson (14:19), Cody Burton (14:30), Kyle Johnson (15:13), Troy Vaughn (15:47), Nathan Jones (15:59), Chris Claypool (16:09), Anthony Richter (16:15), Hunter Morrow (16:26), Chris Wyse (17:57) and Michael Parker (19:21).