Lady Hornets win again; Hornets close gap vs. Cyclones
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).
RUSSELLVILLE — Bryant cross country coach Dan Westbrook had hoped to see how his Bryant Lady Hornets would respond to a challenge Saturday at the annual Russellville Invitational. The team has dominated most of their central Arkansas competition but Harrison, ranked No. 2 in the state, was supposed to be on hand Saturday along with defending Class AAAA individual champ Heidi Vondermaden. Not only would that challenge the third-ranked Lady Hornets as a team but it would also test Bryant’s unbeaten sophomore Gina Messina.
But it didn’t come off. Harrison was a no-show. Messina continued her win streak and the Lady Hornets took top team honors by placing five runners in the top 20.
“I guess Harrison heard we were coming and decided they didn’t want to risk giving up their No. 2 ranking,” quipped Westbrook. “I’m pretty sure we will see them in two weeks at the Chili Pepper Invitational in Fayetteville.
“We did get a challenge from Lake Hamilton,” he noted. “They moved up some junior high girls and two of their ninth graders actually beat their lead (high school) runner. And they’ve got another girl that’s winning the junior high races. And they’re coming to our meet this Saturday. It could be interesting and, in a way, it’s good because they’d give us a challenge, which we really need. Our girls haven’t lost our home meet in eight years.”
Bryant hosts its annual invitational meet with 24 teams participating this Saturday at Mills Park. Events begin at 9 a.m.
“The girls ran well,” Westbrook continued. “Gina was just 10 seconds off the course record but she didn’t look as strong as I’d like her to look. But a win’s a win. This was the first time Melanie Steele has been our fourth runner, but we had a big gap between our third and fourth runners which we’re going to have to close down. Our fourth and fifth runners are going to have to get closer to our third, otherwise we’re in trouble later in the year.”
The Lady Hornets accumulated 35 points to lead the 10-team field. Lake Hamilton, with an influx of talent from their junior high team, finished second with 56 points, followed by Mount St. Mary’s with 90 and Russellville 109.
Russellville again got the best of the Hornets in the boys competition, but Bryant finished closer despite not placing a runner among the Top 10 finishers. Russellville compiled 40 points to Bryant’s 66. Conway was a close third with 70.
Russellville’s junior high teams continued to get the best of Bryant’s juniors too. The Lady Mustangs finished with 47 points but Russellville’s girls put up a perfect score of 15.
The Russellville junior boys edged Lake Hamilton with both teams finishing with 30 points (Russellville had the higher finishing individual) with Bryant third with 78 points.
For the senior girls, Messina ran a 16:06 to win. Amber Dean of Watson Chapel finished fractions ahead of Bryant’s Mandy Medlin for second place at 16:12 and Lady Hornets freshman Candice James was 6th with a time of 16:23.
Steele ran a 17:08 to place 14th with Denise Whitworth right there at 17:19 to take 16th and round out the team’s top five.
Despite an ailment, Angela Garner ran a 17:57 to finish 25th. Brooke Sutton finished in 18:06 and Johnna Harrison in 18:07 to finish 27th and 28th respectively.
Whitney Hall completed the course in 19:15 with Sherry Isham at 19:22, Amy Griffin at 20:59, Amanda Young at 21:16 and Candace Fletcher at 21:53.
“On the boys side,” Westbrook said, “we looked real good early and I thought we had a chance to win but our fourth and fifth runners kind of faded back and we had a gap there. That hurt us. So, we’re still chasing Russellville. We’re getting closer.
“That’s kind of our goal this year, to beat Russellville,” he noted. “We’re going to have to pack better. Our lead runner was 12th and that’s not good. If you’re not going to have somebody in the top five, you’re really going to have to pack really close together.”
As it was, the Hornets packed well enough to take 12th, 14th, 15th and 19th places. Chris Brewer led with a time of 19:35 followed by Casey Jacuzzi at 19:43, Graham Linder at 19:43 and David Stafford with a time of 19:58.
Joe Holland was Bryant’s fifth runner. He finished 26th with a time of 20:19.
“I was pleased with Chris, Casey and Graham,” Westbrook noted. “They ran well.”
Nick Taylor was Bryant’s sixth runner. His time of 21:04 was good for 38th. Jonathan Hensley ran a 22:04 with Stephen Heasley finishing with a time of 22:07 and Jason Mazurek at 22:22. Justin Cochran ran a 22:47 followed by Matt Burbank (23:22), Allan Stanford (24:13) and Chris Moore (24:40).
As for the juniors, Melanie Smith led the Lady Mustangs running an 11:22 to place 14th overall. Sarah Smith was close behind, finishing 15th in a time of 11:30.
Judy Manna, Jamie Waldron and Cally Short completed Bryant’s top five. Manna ran an 11:45 to finish 20th overall. Waldron was 23rd in 11:56 and Short was 30th in a time of 12:15.
Ashleigh McCorkel, Brittney Boyer, Melissa Robinson, Jessica Green and Jillian Lucas rounded out Bryant’s top 10 runners. McCorkel’s 12:43 was good for 41st while Boyer ran a 13:13 to place 50th. Robinson was 53rd in a time of 13:21. Green and Lucas each finished officially in 13:54.
Also for Bryant, Lindsey McConnell and Grace Swaty finished in 14:15 followed by Amy Whitworth (14:33), Lacie Sarlo (14:41), Courtney Fletcher (14:53), Reaghan McCorkel (15:27), Rebecca Dixon (15:27), Amanda Williams (15:34), Felicia Russell (16:24), Deanna Felkins (16:41), Haley Eudy (16:47) and Ashley Harrison (17:44).
“Our junior girls continue to improve each week,” Westbrook said. “Jamie Waldron did an exceptional job.
“Our junior boys were missing two of our top five runners but we had some guys step up,” he added. “Josh Wylie and Jonathan Tebbetts ran hard.”
Cody Walker paced the Mustangs, finishing seventh with a time of 12:25. Geoffrey Edwards ran a 13:02 to place 11th followed by Wylie whose 13:35 was good for 18th. Tebbetts ran a 14:20 to place 24th and Cody Burton completed Bryant’s top five running a 14:34 to place 29th.
Brad Denman was 33rd for the Mustangs, finishing in a time of 14:54. He was followed by Zac Robertson (14:57), Jared Dehan (15:02), Joseph Ginn (15:13), Mike Parker (16:02), Eric Bain (16:05), Derek Carver (17:20), Daniel Price (17:49) and Adam Moore (20:22).