Royal, Raney, Murdock and relays highlight Lady Hornets’ performance

The 4x400 meter relay team of Alexis Royal, Fenice Boone, Leah Ward and Melinda MurdockPhotos courtesy of Raphael McCuien

FAYETTEVILLE — The Bryant Lady Hornet track team competed in the 2013 Indoor Track State[more] Championship Saturday and came away with state titles in two events.

Hannah Raney

Behind a 28-point performance by senior Alexis Royal, Bryant scored 58 points to finish third place out of 24 teams. Bentonville took the team championship with 88 points followed by Fayetteville with 76 points.

Royal started off the competition by defending her state championship from 2012, winning the 60-meter hurdles in a time of 9.3. She then took runner-up in both the long jump (17’1”) and the triple jump (35’5”). In the last event of the meet, she ran the lead leg of the winning 4 x 400-meter relay.

“Alexis had an outstanding state meet,” said Bryant coach Danny Westbrook. “She is still not full strength after tearing a hamstring last spring, but she is getting stronger every week. She was only two-tenths of a second off her state record performance from last year in the hurdles and she missed out on the triple jump title by only one inch.”

The Lady Hornets’ other state championship came in the 4 x 400-meter relay. In dramatic fashion, the team of Royal, Fenice Boone, Leah Ward, and Melinda Murdock held off last year’s champion Bentonville. Bryant took the title with at time of 4:06.9 to Bentonville’s 4:08.6.

Melinda Murdock

“The 4 x 400-meter relay is the last event of every track meet and it is usually very exciting,” Westbrook noted. “We finished second to Bentonville last year in a very close race, and it was really gratifying to beat them this year.”

Along with her state title in the 4 x 400-meter relay, junior Melinda Murdock scored 13 points by taking third in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:23 and fifth in the hurdles in 9.5. She was also a member of the 4 x 800-meter relay team that took fourth.

In the 3200-meter run, senior Hannah Raney turned in a strong performance, taking runner-up with a time of 11:43.

Raney, Murdock, Talyn Billins, and Sam Maachi teamed up in the 4 x 800-meter relay to take fifth in a time of 10:04.

Due to their top three finishes in various events, Royal, Murdock, Ward, Boone, and Raney were all named Arkansas All-State.

“I was extremely pleased with our team performance today,” stated Westbrook. “This third-place finish is the highest we have placed since we won the team title back in 2005. I am really looking forward to an exciting outdoor season.”

The Lady Hornets are tentatively scheduled to run in a practice meet on March 4 at Conway before officially opening the outdoor season with their own meet at Bryant Stadium. The Hornets Relays will be March 14.Alexis Royal

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