Hornets break extended dryspell
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).
ARKADELPHIA — Bryant cross country coach Dan Westbrook noticed a renewed vigor in his senior boys team this week. Sure, the slightly cooler weather may have been a factor in that but not nearly as much as what his team accomplished Saturday at the annual Bob Gravett Invitational meet on the campus of Ouachita Baptist University.
You see, the Hornets bested a field of 13 other teams to win the meet, ending a two-year dryspell between meet championships, a previously unheard of drought for the proud Bryant program.
“You have to go back almost two years to the day, we won down at SAU (Southern Arkansas University),” Westbrook noted. “It was kind of scripted the way we wanted it. The guys pack-ran. We had like five guys together for the first mile and a half. We didn’t have a lead runner. Our first guy was fifth and we still won. That’s the way to win, just pack-run, especially when you don’t have those front-runners up there. And I think the guys are seeing that now.
“It’s just an amazing turnaround,” he added. “The leadership we’ve had is where I give credit. Just hard work and it paid off Saturday. I’m really happy for the boys and I think it’s going to do a lot for us. It’s really going to help our confidence. I think we can go after teams like Russellville and Cabot and teams like that now. If we do just what made us successful Saturday and that’s pack-running. I think they’re beginning to see that.”
It made for a double victory for Bryant as the Lady Hornets, despite missing top runner Gina Messina, dominated a field of nine other teams by placing four runners in the top 10.
“It’s nice to win without your No. 1 runner that big in that big a field,” Westbrook commented. “But the one thing about the girls — you know, I keep telling them — our competition’s not down here (in central Arkansas). It’s like that every year. There are some awful tough teams up in the northwest part of the state. Those are the teams that are going to be the ones to beat at the State meet. We know that. It’s a shame that we’re not able to run against them every week because they see each other and they’re beating each other’s brains out up there and getting better.
“Of course, we’re dominating down here and I just warn (the girls) not to get over-confident and not to stop training hard because, you know, it’s coming.”
The Lady Hornets will run against those teams — Bentonville, Fayetteville, Rogers, etc. — at the annual Chili Pepper Invitational in Fayetteville on Oct. 16 but, as Westbrook said, though it’s on the State meet course, it will only be a two-mile race instead of the 4K distance that will be covered at the State meet. “That’s another half mile and it makes a difference,” he noted.
“It’s really a credit to how hard our kids work,” said Westbrook of the lack of nearby competition. “I wish there were some other teams here that would provide some competition. And maybe there is. We haven’t seen everybody yet.”
In the boys meet, sophomore Casey Jacuzzi led the way for Bryant, finishing 5th in 16:59. Junior Chris Brewer and sophomore Graham Linder also finished in the top 10. Brewer’s 17:03 was good for 8th with Linder 9th in 17:04.
Again, the Hornets ran without sophomore Joe Holland who was among the top finishers at their intrasquad meet two weeks ago.
But junior Nick Taylor and soph Stephen Heasley stepped up to complete Bryant’s top 5 with David Stafford close as the Hornets’ sixth runner. Taylor finished 17th with a time of 17:18. Heasley’s 17:51 took 20th and Stafford’s 18:11 was good for 23rd.
Jason Mazurek ran a 19:25 followed by Matt Burbank (19:40), Allan Stanford (19:43), Justin Cochran (19:55), Ethan Thomason (20:08), Jonathan Hensley (20:15) and Chris Moore (20:57).
For the girls, sophomore Mandy Medlin led the way with a third-place finish overall. She ran a 16:29. Freshman Candice James continued to shine, finishing right on Medlin’s heels with a 16:52 to place fourth.
Junior Denise Whitworth and sophomore Melanie Steele also finished in the top 10. Whitworth’s 17:15 was 6th best while Steele’s 17:17 took 8th.
The Lady Hornets were fairly close together through the top seven spots. Senior Angela Garner rounded out the top five by finishing 12th with a time of 17:28. She was followed closely by sophomore Brooke Sutton at 17:31 (14th) and senior Johnna Harrison at 17:35 (15th).
Senior Whitney Hall ran an 18:53 to finish 26th. She was followed by Sherry Isham at 19:57, Megan Moss (20:21), Amanda Young (20:23), Amy Griffin (20:29) and Candace Fletcher (23:02).
As for the junior high teams, the Lady Mustangs finished second to a strong Magnet Cove team, while the Mustangs were third behind Lake Hamilton and Sheridan.
Seven junior girls teams competed and five junior boys teams.
The Lady Mustangs accumulated 77 points to Magnet Cove’s 24. Sheridan was third with 98 followed by Taylor (99), Heber Springs (123), Ouachita (128) and Acorn (134).
The Mustangs finished with 67 points. Lake Hamilton’s 21 paced the field with Sheridan second with 45 points. Hot Springs’ 84 points was fourth with Lakeside fifth with 144 points.
The Lady Mustangs fared well pack-running also. Sarah Smith, the Lady Mustangs’ top runner, finished 12th overall with a time of 11:00. But Melanie Smith was right there with her finishing 13th in 11:01 then Jamie Waldron was 21st (11:20), Cally Short 24th (11:35), Jennifer Pierce 27th (11:42) and Ashleigh McCorkel 28th (11:45). Brittney Boyer wasn’t far off that pack’s pace with an 11:59 to finish 32nd.
Also for the Lady Mustangs Jessica Finley ran a 12:13 with Melissa Robinson finishing at 12:17. They were followed by Jessica Green (13:09), Jillian Lucas (13:17), Amy Whitworth (13:48), Lindsey McConnell (14:00), Courtney Fletcher (14:13), Felicia Russell (15:03), Amanda Williams (15:11), Haley Eudy (16:06), Reaghan McCorkel (16:06), Ashley Harrison (16:16) and Sarah Carson (16:24).
For the Mustangs, Cody Walker turned in a top 10 finish. His 12:00 was good for 8th.
Geoffrey Edwards, Greg Prewett, Josh Wylie and Steven Saenz each finished in the top 20. Edwards ran a 12:20 to place 14th with Prewett 17th with a time of 12:34. Wylie was 18th at 12:48 with Saenz 20th in 12:55.
Cody Burton finished 28th in a time of 13:59 and Joseph Ginn was 29th in 14:05.
Brad Denman ran a 14:31 followed by Jared Dehan (14:32), Mike Parker (14:55), Zac Robertson (15:01), Eric Bain (15:51), Derek Carver (16:52), Daniel Price (17:29), Scott Ramos (18:13) and Adam Moore (18:31).
This week, the Bryant teams were scheduled to travel to Arkansas Tech University in Russellville, but the meet was canceled so they will participate in Saturday’s Fall Fest 5K.