Lady Hornets capture home meet title
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).
By ROB PATRICK
Despite the fact that top runner Gina Messina’s unbeaten streak this season came to an end, the Bryant Lady Hornets captured team honors at the burgeoning Bryant Invitational cross country meet at Mills Park Saturday.
It was a disappointing day for the Hornets, meanwhile. They finished fourth as a team behind rival Conway. The Hornets’ top runner finished 19th overall. Cabot won the boys title with 49 points to Russellville’s 58.
Bryant’s junior boys were also fourth while no results were posted on the junior girls race due to confusion by some of the runners about the layout of the course.
As for the Lady Hornets, they compiled a low score of 55 points to best Lake Hamilton (84) and a field of nine other teams.
But Watson Chapel’s Amber Dean ended Messina’s streak of wins, running a 15:35 to Messina’s 16:02 after the two girls were even most of the race.
“I thought Gina should’ve won,” stated Bryant head coach Dan Westbrook who noted that Messina set the course record last year with a time of 15:18. “I mean, (Dean) is tough and the time that she ran today was tough but I think Gina’s capable of running with her. Hopefully that’ll fire Gina up for the next time we meet her. She’s a AAAA runner so we won’t see her at State.”
Freshman Candice James finished fourth overall with sophomore Mandy Medlin fifth for Bryant. Both were clocked at 16:18.
“Candice James being second for us was a first for her,” Westbrook mentioned. “Candice is a freshman running for a high school so she doesn’t have the luxury of running against other freshmen. She’s running against girls older and stronger than her and she’s doing an awesome job. I really appreciate her efforts.”
The Lady Hornets’ fourth runner was Melanie Steele who ran a 17:21 to finish 22nd. Denise Whitworth completed the scoring contingent, finishing 24th in 17:24.
“Team-wise, I’m not happy at all with our gap between three and four,” Westbrook added. “Four and five are together but they’ve got to get closer to three. It’s been Melanie and Denise every week and I told those other girls, ‘Don’t just be satisfied with where you are because you can get up there and make that difference.’ We’ve got to work on that.
“Last year at the State meet, we had three girls that ran really well and we had the big gap and it cost us a runner-up trophy because we were only 14 points out of runner-up. One of our goals is to come home with a trophy and they don’t give third place anything.”
The Lady Hornets’ Johnna Harrison was 29th overall with a time of 17:57. Though ailing, Angela Garner placed 36th with a time of 18:01. She was followed closely by Brooke Sutton (18:03).
Whitney Hall ran a 19:09 for Bryant, followed by Sherry Isham (19:59), Megan Moss (20:02), Candace Fletcher (21:11), Amanda Young (21:17) and Amy Griffin (21:35).
For the Hornets, Chris Brewer led the pack with a time of 17:41, well off the pace set by individual winner Kyle Cleveland of Little Rock J.A. Fair who ran a 15:58.
Graham Linder was Bryant’s second runner with a time of 17:57, good for 26th. Casey Jacuzzi ran an 18:02 to place 31st, followed by Nick Taylor at 18:04 and 32nd place. Stephen Heasley completed the Hornets’ scoring group with a time of 18:25, good for 38th.
“There’s kind of a little rivalry going between us and Conway,” Westbrook noted. “Our guys can beat them. We’ve beaten them all year but today we let them sneak up on us. They’re going to the Chili Pepper (in Fayetteville, this week), so that’s going to be some motivation. We’re going to go after Conway. And I think if they can beat Conway then who knows who we can beat if we run well?”
Westbrook praised Heasley. “He worked hard at practice this week,” he said, “and it showed by him moving up and becoming our fifth runner.”
David Stafford was Bryant’s sixth runner. His time of 18:44 was good for 43rd place overall. Joe Holland was close behind in 46th with a time of 18:47.
Also for the Hornets, Jason Mazurek ran a 19:24; Jonathan Hensley a 19:58; Justin Cochran a 20:54; Allan Stanford a 21:16; Chris Moore a 21:25; and Matt Burbank a 21:39.
Cody Walker won an individual trophy in junior boys competition. He led the Mustangs with a time of 11:28 to take 10th.
The Mustangs finished with 107 points behind team winner Russellville (32), Lake Hamilton (58) and Sheridan (91). Cabot North was fifth (122) followed by Central Arkansas Christian (132) and Cabot South (182).
“Cody did a good job,” noted Westbrook. “Team-wise, we’re just going to have to get stronger.”
Geoffrey Edwards was Bryant’s second runner, finishing 18th in a time of 12:19. Greg Prewett ran a 12:32 to place 23rd with Josh Wylie 30th in 12:50 and Steven Saenz 32nd in 12:51 to complete the scoring group.
Cody Burton was right on Saenz’ heels, finishing in 12:56 to place 33rd. Johnathan Tebbetts was 36th with a time of 13:03.
Also for the Mustangs, Brad Denman ran a 13:45. He was followed by Jared Dehan (13:49), Joseph Ginn (13:56), Mike Parker (14:25), Derek Carver (15:20), Daniel Price (16:19) and Adam Moore (17:38).
Despite the fact that maps of the course were distributed and the course was well marked, some of the junior girls went off course so the results of the competition were tossed out.
“There were some parents and coaches really upset,” Westbrook said. “But what can you do? They had a map. I had a map posted in the pavillion. The only thing that made me completely disregard the trophies is the fact that I didn’t have somebody at that location to tell which way to go. And we had the first three runners across the finish line. If I’d had somebody there and they still went the wrong way, then, hey, it’s their fault. But I felt some responsibility so we just didn’t give any rewards. I felt like that was the only fair way to do it.”
Westbrook confirmed that it was the largest Bryant Invitational ever.
“Nobody knows what it takes to put one of these on and I’d really like to thank all the people that helped,” Westbrook concluded. “This has become one of the premier cross country events in the state. Several coaches and parents commented how much they love coming to Mills Park because it’s a beautiful park and a great place to put on a race.”