October 16 in Bryant athletic history: 2004

Blakley’s bid for record highlights Hornets’ effort

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).

FAYETTEVILLE — Sophomore Ethan Blakley narrowly missed setting a new school record as the Bryant Hornets finished 13th over 35 teams, fifth among Arkansas schools, at the renowned Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival held at Agri Park on the University of Arkansas campus on Saturday, Oct. 16.

Blakley ran a 15:35 to finish 12th overall at the meet which was packed with regional teams including a nationally-ranked team from The Woodlands, Texas. The school record at the 5K distance is 15:31, set by former state champion Brian Bariola in the early 1990’s. Incredibly, Blakley’s was only the second fastest time among sophomores. An Oklahoma 10th grader, Kevin Schwab, set a course record with an incredible time of 14:44.

The Woodlands, ranked third in the country, won the team title. Bryant trailed Rogers which was third overall, Fayetteville (7th), Russellville (8th) and Van Buren (10th) among Arkansas teams.

“The Chile Pepper is always a special race,” commented Hornets coach Steve Oury. “There is no other like it in this part of the country. I told the guys to just focus on running to their potential and not worry about what the other teams are doing.

“Ethan ran a great race,” he continued. “He was struggling a little in the first mile but really came on during the third mile. He was the third finisher from Class AAAAA, so there is no doubt he can run with anybody in the state. To make it to the awards stand (the top 15 get individual awards) at the Chile Pepper as a sophomore is quite an achievement, especially with a nationally-ranked team like the Woodlands in the field.”

Chris Robinson was the Hornets second finisher. His personal best time of 16:19 was good for 37th in the field of 298 runners. Steven Bright was 96th in 17:11 followed by Alvin Rapien (130th, 17:39), Andrew Linder (152nd, 18:09), Joey Fuoco (160th, 18:18), Will Wilson (206th, 19:53) and Jeremy Accord (20:30). Also, in the high school open division, freshman Ben Higgs ran a personal best 18:52.

“Chris Robinson ran a very good race,” said Oury. “He not only broke 17 minutes for the first time but he wasn’t too far from breaking 16. Steven Bright is still feeling the effects of his illness. We’re just hoping he can recover in time for State. He would usually be up with Chris. Alvin, Andrew, and Joey all did good jobs today. This meet can be a little overwhelming because at times it’s very difficult to pass other runners because of how crowded it is.”

In the junior high division, Bryant placed 8th out of 22 teams. Running without top runners Joey Fuoco and Ben Higgs, the Junior Hornets ran their first 5k race of the season. Josh Harrison led the way for the Junior Hornets with a 26th place finish in a time of 18:39. Also running in the junior high division were Cody Fiser (34th in 19:04), Todd McAdoo (35th in 19:04), Preston Adami (68th in 19:59.9), Tyler O’Neal (90th in 20:45), and Cameron Whaley (95th in 20:54). Due to technical problems, the time and place for Zach Graham were not available. 

“We got off to a horrible start,” Oury noted regarding the junior high race. “The starter fired the gun without giving any warning, so we were caught off guard. With over 400 runners in the field, a lot of the guys got boxed in once the course gets narrow, so they really struggled to get into good position. I feel certain that we could have really cut some time off had we been able to get off to a good start.

“Josh did a good job of battling his way up into good position,” he added. “Ben Higgs ran a very good race considering how much training he has missed due to a knee injury. Cody Fiser, Todd McAdoo, and Preston Adami all did a good job of breaking the 20 minute barrier in their first 5ks. Some of these guys are going to be running in the conference and state meets. We may have to have a run-off to see who goes.”

The Hornets will host the AAAAA-Central Conference meet at Longhills Golf Club on Thursday, Oct. 28. The Junior Hornets will wrap up the season at the Wal-Mart Junior High Invitational at Cabot on Saturday, Oct. 30.

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