Hornets 3rd despite training regimen
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HOT SPRINGS — Keeping an eye on the big picture, the Bryant Hornets cross country team trained hard right through the Lake Hamilton Invitational at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, Oct. 8. And, according to head coach Steve Oury, it took its toll on the team as they finished third in the 23-team event, the largest they’ve competed in this season.
In junior boys competition, Bryant won its second meet in succession with an impressive 21-point victory over runner-up Russellville. Bryant finished with 69 points.
Russellville edged Conway for team honors, 81-85, in the high school ranks. The Hornets topped fourth-place Lake Hamilton by a nose with 102 points to the Wolves’ 105, despite the fact that Lake Hamilton runners took the top two places individually.
Oaklawn Park will be the site of the Class AAAAA championship meet early next month.
“We were a little dead-legged this week because we just started speedwork on Monday,” Oury acknowledged.
Junior Ethan Blakley led the Hornets, finishing fourth overall with a time of 16:37, falling behind a Lake Hamilton runner he had defeated repeatedly in earlier meets.
“Blakley was in the lead pack but could not respond when the kid from Lake Hamilton threw in a surge,” Oury observed. “That’s to be expected after the week of training we had.”
Joey Fuoco was Bryant’s second runner, finishing 21st in 18:09 with Josh Harrison 25th in 18:12. Senior Chris Robinson continued his comeback from an ankle injury by finishing right with Harrison, taking 26th with the same 18:12 clocking. Ben Higgs was the Hornets’ fifth and final scoring entry. His 18:26 was good for 35th overall.
“Fuoco and Harrison also were a little off their game,” Oury noted. “But we didn’t rest at all for this meet. We have been training straight through these meets and will only begin to taper as the conference and state meets approach.
“I thought Chris Robinson had his best meet of the year and I only look for him to get stronger and stronger,” Oury added. “I was also very proud of Nick Pultro and Jeremy Cox. Both of those guys took a big chunk out of their personal records for the 5k distance. That’s always great to see.”
Pultro turned in a 21:36 and Cox finished in 21:53.
Cody Fiser finished just behind the scoring quintet with a time of 18:33. Alvin Rapien ran an 18:42 with Todd McAdoo on his heels with an 18:47.
Zack Orick led the next pack of Hornets with a 19:33 followed by Preston Adami (19:51), Tyler O’Neal (20:30), Pultro, Cox and Ben Griffin (23:43).
Drew Persinger again led the Junior Hornets, finishing eighth overall with a time of 11:13. Dillon Rhodes stepped to the front with Persinger and finished 10th in a time of 11:14. The next three Bryant runners finished in a cluster, led by Jacob Clark who was 16th in 11:23 then Austin Benning (18th, 11:26) and Brandon Mueller (22nd, 11:29). Tremelle Overton led the next pack of Junior Hornets. He ran an 11:58 and was followed closely by Matt Norton (12:04), Chris DuBose (12:13), Colton Klaas (12:17) and Zach Graham (12:18).
“That was a great win to pick up,” Oury stated. “I was worried because we were running without two of our top runners this week. Danny Powell is out of town and Cameron Whaley hurt his ankle, so I let them know that there was no reason why we couldn’t meet the challenge and win without them. We have had outstanding depth all year and it really paid off. Hopefully, we can get our full team back by the time we complete in Cabot at the end of the month.”
Also competing for the Junior Hornets were Matt Gray (12:40), Matt Hill (12:49), Tyler Webb (12:52), Jonathan Kooiman (12:52), Ian Russell (12:55), Trenton Palmer (13:15), Josh Spurlock (13:17), Daniel Tucker (13:22), Jacob Pultro (13:39), Levi Lindsley (13:46), Brett Carter (13:52), Jared Helms (14:25), Ken Vega (15:28) and Nick Love (16:40).
On Saturday, Oct. 15, the Hornets will compete in one of the highlights of the regular season, the Chili Pepper Festival at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville.
“The Chili Pepper is a big meet because we get to see the northwest Arkansas schools,” Oury explained. “Fayetteville and Rogers are ranked first and second, so we will get to see where we stack up.”
The coach said that the top eight Junior Hornets runners will also be making the trip. “I’m really looking forward to seeing how they compete against the northwest Arkansas junior highs,” he said, “and also how they meet the challenge of running the 5k distance which is over a mile more than they normally run.”