October 18 in Bryant athletic history: 2003

Hornets finish among top Arkansas teams at meet

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 —Bryant Hornets cross country coach Steve Oury liked the times his runners recorded at the prestigious Chile Pepper Festival at the University of Arkansas Saturday, Oct. 19, but he would’ve really liked to know how they stood up against the competition, especially the teams his group hasn’t previously competed with like top-ranked Rogers, second-rated Fayetteville and third-ranked Springdale.

As was the case in the senior girls race in the UALR Invitational earlier this fall, a foul up prevented accurate results to be recorded in the boys division of the Chile Pepper. The majority of the finishers in the 5k race were given the wrong finishing time and place which made the team results almost impossible to accurately compute.

Almost, that is, until Tuesday when the results were deciphered by timer Gary Ballard of Benton.

In a dominating performance, Rogers won the team title with 81 points. The Mounties placed all five of their scoring runners in the top 25 and all within 24 seconds of each other. 

Bryant, as it turned out, wound up 11th overall, fourth among Arkansas teams and third among Class AAAAA teams. Fayetteville finished fifth overall and second among Arkansas teams with 258 points. De Queen, a Class AAA school, finished eighth overall with 288 points with the Hornets finishing 11th with 335 points, topping fourth-ranked Lake Hamilton (12th) as well as unranked Cabot (13th) and Springdale (15th).

“While I was very pleased with our performance today, I was also very frustrated at the scoring errors that took place,” Oury commented. “It’s great that they got them ironed out. One of the main objectives for this trip was to see how we matched up with teams like Fayetteville, Springdale, and Rogers. Rogers showed how dominant they are. They were as good as advertised. I thought we competed well with the other teams. It was a really good meet for us.”

The fifth-ranked Hornets hope to get another shot at the northwest Arkansas teams at the Class AAAAA State meet at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs on Nov. 8. First, however, they’ll have to qualify by finishing well, as expected, at the AAAAA-Central Conference meet at Conway on Oct. 30.

At Fayetteville, the Hornets were led by senior Bryan Ballew who earned a medal for his 15th-place finish. Ballew turned in a personal best time of 16:06.

Steven Bright and Ethan Blakley also turned in their best times of the season. Bright was Bryant’s second runner, 50th overall, with a time of 16:41. Blakley was close behind him with a time of 16:42, good for 52nd.

The places for the remaining Hornets runners are unknown but Zach Roberson ran a 17:22 followed by Adam Schneider (17:52), Zach Williams (18:03), Tino Kretschmer (18:47) and Andrew Linder (19:25).

“Bryan continues to get stronger and stronger,” Oury noted. “He was the seventh Arkansas finisher, which bodes well for his prospects at the state meet. Steven and Ethan worked very well together. Zach Roberson and Adam Schneider both stepped up and ran well. Zach Williams ran a personal best and almost broke the 18 minute barrier.

“The real surprise of the day was the performances of freshmen Justin Hefner and Alvin Rapien in the open division,” Oury added. “They are making a strong bid to earn a spot on the varsity squad for conference and state meets.”

In the open field of 459 runners going 5k, Hefner finished 46th in 18:19.41 and Rapien 47th in 18:19.96. Both earned medals for finishing in the top 10 among junior high runners.

Other Bryant finishers were Allen Trotter (19:34.87), Zach Barnes (19:59.7), Ben Higgs (20:59.85) and Will Wilson (21:50).

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