Pack-running helps Bryant girls win junior cross country championship

CABOT — Racing without three of their top ninth-grade runners who were moved up to[more] the high school team, the Bryant Junior Lady Hornets came through with a stunning victory at the Walmart Junior High Cross County Championship held Saturday.

Bryant placed all five of their scoring runners in the top 15 places to score 42 points, surprising favored Lake Hamilton, which had to settle for runner-up with 60 points. Batesville finished third with 98 points, followed by South Side (108), Russellville (111), Heber Springs (114), Conway (179), Cabot (199), Des Arc (281), and Hamburg (302). There were 174 total runners in the two-mile race.

“What a way to finish off the season,” commented Lady Hornets coach Danny Westbrook. “Our girls ran awesome. We had talked all week about how we needed people to step-up due to the loss of our top three freshmen moved up to the high school team, and, boy, did they come through.”

Leading the way for the Lady Hornets was eighth-grader Hannah Shelby who finished in second-place overall with an impressive time of 12:48. The rest of the scoring five, Sarah Cowell (10th, 13:47), Jenna Freeman (11th, 13:52), Hadley Dickinson (12th, 13:52), and Abby Ostrem (15th, 13:54) used Bryant’s patented packing strategy to perfection to secure the victory.

Also receiving one of the top 30 medals was Madison Rhodes (25th, 14:24) and Hailey Levinson (30th, 14:46).

“Hannah Shelby went out with the leaders and ran a very gutsy race to take runner-up, and then our other scorers established a ‘pack attack’ up front and just dominated into the finish,” Westbrook said. “This group of girls has had an outstanding season and the future looks extremely bright for Bryant Cross Country.

“Cross country is a unique sport in that seventh, eighth, and ninth grade all get to compete together for championships,” the coach added. “Our middle school coaches, Deanna Porter and Rhonda Hall, have really done an outstanding job getting those kids ready to race each week.”

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