Bryant runners shine at UALR 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).
LITTLE ROCK — Though there were no team results at the UALR Invitational cross country meet at Murray Park Saturday, both Bryant High School coaches Dan Westbrook and Bodie Nance were pleased with their teams’ performances following a week away from competition.
Westbrook’s Lady Hornets placed three runners in the top 10 while Nance’s Hornets had two runners crack the top 10.
“I was extremely happy with our senior girls,” Westbrook stated. “We finally put together a strong performance by all our top runners rather than just having a few good individual efforts.
“Gina Messina, Mandy Medlin and Candice James had strong top 10 finishes and Melanie Butler, our fourth runner, finished strong to earn herself a trophy,” Westbrook noted. “Her sister, Sarah Butler, topped off our scoring five with a great finish. I thought all our girls looked really fast. Our speed work is starting to pay off.”
Messina finished third overall with a time of 16:00. Medlin was right with her at 16:10 to finish fourth. James was seventh with a time of 16:24 and Melanie Butler was 14th in a time of 16:57.
Sarah Butler’s late surge resulted in a 17:18 time, good for 22nd.
Melanie Steele led the Lady Hornets second five running a 17:44 to place 30th out of the 161-runner field. Denise Whitworth clocked in at 18:30 followed by Melissa Robinson (19:52), Amy Griffin (20:23) and Amanda Young (21:03).
For the Hornets, Graham Linder (17:06) and David Stafford (17:16) landed in the top 10 at 8th and 10th, respectively.
Nick Taylor, Joe Holland and Cody Walker completed Bryant’s scoring group. Taylor ran 17:31 to finish 16th. Holland’s 18:00 was good for 26th and Walker’s 19:01 garnered 49th.
Ethan Thomason ran a 19:04 for Bryant with Josh Brooks (19:29), Stephen Heasley (19:35) and Michael Parker (21:48).
“We ran very well,” Nance declared. “We broke up Russellville’s dominance over us by putting three guys between their second and fifth finisher. Graham Linder, David Stafford and Nick Taylor ran exceptional races.
“We have had two very hard weeks of training and did not taper at all for this race which speaks volumes as to the heart of this team,” Nance noted. “To top it off, we had one of our usual five finishers (senior Chris Brewer) not run. We have passed peak as far as workload and will concentrate on speed and getting more rest between now and state.”
The teams have three meets prior to the State meet at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs on Nov. 4. This Saturday, they travel to Lake Hamilton before finishing up at Conway then Central Arkansas Christian in Little Rock.
The Lake Hamilton meet will be the final outing for the junior high teams.
“I’m looking forward to racing at Lake Hamilton,” Nance said, “because we will have fresh legs for the first time all season. When you believe, work hard, and act on what you believe, good things happen and this team is poised for good things to happen.”
Matt Arnold continued to pace the junior high boys team. The Mustangs placed three in the top 10 and six in the top 20 at UALR. Arnold’s 7:02 was good for second place. William Scott was fourth in 7:13 with Zach Roberson seventh in 7:21.
Thomas Howell ran a 7:33 to finish 14th with Leon Howell (7:43, 17th) and Jared Dehan (7:48, 18th) finishing strong.
“Matt, William and Zach ran great,” Westbrook said. “The Howell brothers, Thomas and Leon, rounded out our top five with solid races.”
Matthew Wilder led the next group of Mustangs. He ran a 7:55 to place 23rd. Kevin Bunch was 24th in 7:55 followed by Josh Wright (8:00, 27th), Adam Moore (8:00, 28th), Paul DeGarmo (8:20, 34th), Taylor Sorrows (8:26, 36th), Derek Carver (8:36, 39th) and Clayton Risner (8:37, 40th).
Jeremy Neugent ran a 9:03, Zach Melton a 9:04 and Cole McAllister a 9:08.
“Our junior girls ran hard,” Westbrook noted, “with Tonya Fowler and Megan Bradshaw finishing in the top 10. Tiffany Smith had a strong effort as well and earned a trophy.”
Fowler finished eighth with a time of 8:13. Bradshaw was 9th in 8:17 and Smith 16th in 8:43.
They were followed by Laura Mackey (8:53, 21st) and Jamie Waldron (8:55, 22nd) who would’ve rounded out the scoring quintet.
Jessica Finley ran an 8:58 to finish 24th. She was followed by Danielle Bush (9:01), Jessica Graham (9:03), Rachel Pack (9:10), Jennifer Long (9:13), Britain Owens (9:22) and Felicia Russell (9:27).