September 1 in Bryant athletic history: 2001

Hornets gain some 

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, will continueposting past stories of Bryant athletics either posted on (from 2009 to the present) or published in the Bryant Times (from 1998 to 2008).

LITTLE ROCK — The Bryant Hornets cross country team has a goal this season.

“The guys want to compete hard every meet and win some respect from their cross country peers throughout the state,” commented head coach Bodie Nance. “Then, at the state meet in November, lay it all on the line and see what happens.”

Saturday, Sept. 1, at the season-opening UALR Invitational, the Hornets successfully began the first part of that plan when, despite missing one of their top five runners, they finished third in a tough field, edging defending Class AAAAA champion Mountain Home by three points.

Russellville, rated the best team in the state this season, cruised to a team victory with just 17 points. A strong Lake Hamilton team finished a distant second with 76 points followed by Bryant with 101 in the 10-team competition.

In the junior boys event, Bryant’s Mustangs captured a team title in their first competition, placing four runners in the top 10 and seven in the top 15. Austin Johnson was second overall, completing the course in 8:03.4.

The Hornets were paced by seniors David Stafford and Graham Linder. Stafford’s 17:31 was good for eighth overall. Linder was ninth, running a 17:50. Cody Walker’s 15th place finish came in 18:38. Thomas Spencer and Matt Arnold completed the team’s scoring quintet. Spencer was 42nd with a time of 20:32. Arnold was 48th in 20:58.

In addition, Zach Roberson ran 21:58 followed by Mark Pagan (23:35), Bryan Ballew (24:34) and Michael Parker (24:48).

“The boys did a great job,” Nance said. “Thomas Spencer is starting to exert some control vying for a spot in the top five. Matt Arnold has only been out for a few days and finished in the top five. Zach Roberson and Mark Pagan are improving each week as are Bryan Ballew and Mike Parker.

“We’ll have Ethan Thomason back next week,”Nance added. “He should shore up our fourth spot. We are in a good place right now team-wise. I like our attitude and we are excited and working hard every day in practice. We’ll be ready to make a run at doing well at the state in November.”

For the Mustangs, Aubrey Riddle, Josh Wright and Leon Spencer joined Johnson in the top 10. Riddle was fourth in 8:16.5, Wright ran sixth in 8:21.4 and Spencer was seventh in 8:22.6. Matthew Wilder completed the scoring group, finishing 11th overall with a time of 8:35.7.

The Mustangs finished with 24 points outdistancing their big rivals from Russellville by 28 points. Lake Hamilton was third with 53 points followed by Little Rock Catholic with 110.

“The junior boys ran a fantastic race,” stated Nance. “We had 11 runners in the top 25. I think Austin Johnson, Aubrey Riddle and Josh Wright have a chance to help out the high school team before the season is out. Leon Spencer really came on as did the Wilder twins, Matthew and Michael.”

Michael Wilder finished on the heels of his brother. His 8:37.3 garnered a 12th-place finish. Cole McAllister was 14th in 8:43.5 followed by Andrew Linder whose 8:51.3 was good for 19th.

Allen Trotter and Paul DeGarmo completed the group that finished in the top 25. Trotter’s 8:54.2 was good for 21st. DeGarmo ran an 8:47.5 to finish 24th.

Kevin Bunch wasn’t far behind. His 9:04.2 garnered 27th. He was followed by Kyle Henderson (9:14.9), Chase Whaley (9:19.8), Riley Sears (9:20.3), Josh Woodell (9:21.7), Chris Robinson (9:28.1), Brandon Jackson (9:30.6), Ryan Hill (9:31.5), Clayton Risner (9:32), Graham Giffiths (9:45.8), Shane Skinner (9:46.8), Jeremy Neugent (10:02.2), Kris Rainbolt (10:02.9), Wezley Griffin (10:51.9), Kelly Lidzy (10:58), Jeff Ward (11:15.3) and Garrett Brown (11:28.9).

“From top to bottom, this group is improving every day,” Nance said. “I’m very proud of what they did today. This is the type of performance you can build a championship-caliber team around.”

The teams run at the Ouachita Baptist University Invitational in Arkadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 8.

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