Hornets top state team at OBU meet
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ARKADELPHIA — In a field of 20 teams at the Ouachita Baptist University Invitational cross country meet on Saturday, Sept. 11, the Bryant Hornets finished first among the 19 squads from Arkansas. Unfortunately, the 20th team, Christian Brothers of Memphis, Tenn., proved to be a bit stronger, taking top honors with 50 points. Bryant had 76, topping rival Lake Hamilton (84 points) and 17 other teams including Little Rock Catholic, Cabot, Sheridan, Conway, El Dorado and Benton.
Bryant’s junior boys finished with 31 points to take top honors in their division. Lake Hamilton, with 65 points, was the closest of the other seven teams.
In the senior boys race, Bryant sophomore Ethan Blakley, despite not feeling well, led coming down the stretch but was nosed out by Lake Hamilton’s Alex Bearden by three seconds. Nonetheless, Blakley, who said he even surprised himself, finished with a personal best time of 16:07 over the 5K course, 14 seconds better than his previous best.
Steven Bright also finished in the top 10 for the Hornets, running a 17:20 to take ninth. Chris Robinson was 12th in 17:44. Alvin Rapien and Andrew Linder completed Bryant’s scoring group. Rapien was 24th in 18:21 and Linder was 32nd in 18:42.
In addition, Will Wilson ran a 21:15 and Jeremy Acord turned in a time of 21:36.
“I am very excited about today’s race,” stated Hornets head coach Steve Oury. “Ethan ran a spectacular race and pushed Bearden to the limit. Steven and Chris both had very solid efforts and they both came away feeling as though they had much room for improvement.
“The key to the race for us was the performance of Alvin and Andrew,” Oury added. “They both stepped up for us and ran personal best times, which is what we had to have. I can’t say enough about how well they ran.”
Oury tempered his enthusiasm, however, saying, “Although we had a good meet and beat some pretty good teams, I don’t want us to get over-confident. We still have a lot of hard work ahead of us and we will have to improve in order to reach our goals for the season. We must also stay healthy. Unlike last year, we don’t have the luxury of having 11 guys who could run 19 minutes or better. We will definitely be tested at our home meet by Russellville. On paper, we shouldn’t be able to match up to them but, thankfully, the races aren’t run on paper.”
Bryant hosts its lone home meet, the Bryant Invitational, on Saturday, Sept. 18, at Mills Park, beginning with the junior girls run at 9:30 a.m.
In the junior boys competition, Bryant eased to victory with four runners in the top eight and seven in the top 20.
Ben Higgs was tops for the Junior Hornets, finishing third overall with a time of 11:31, followed closely by Joey Fuoco, who was fourth in 11:36. Todd McAdoo’s 12:06 was good for seventh, with Josh Harrison eighth in 12:07.
Cody Fiser completed Bryant’s top five by finishing 16th in 12:24 but Tyler O’Neal was right on pace, finishing 17th in 12:31. Zach Graham was 19th in 12:41.
Also breaking the 13 minute barrier was Preston Adami, whose 12:55 was good for 27th.
“This was a great performance for us,” Oury stated. “We have a lot of ability on this team, but we have several guys who have never run cross country before. I was a little concerned about how they would react running in a meet of this size, but they met the challenge beautifully.
“Ben and Joey both had tremendous races,” added the coach. “They did a good job of pacing themselves so they would be able to surge at the finish. Todd and Josh both ran quite well and Cody really stepped up. Tyler had been our fifth runner last week and he ran a good race, but he was struggling a little in the last mile and Cody was there to pick up the slack. As a group, they are really starting to learn what cross country is all about.”
The Junior Hornets were also represented by Cameron Whaley (13:17), Matt Gray (13:34), Ben Griffin (13:35), Stacy King (14:13), Dustin Waymon (14:16), Danny Powell (14:17), Jeremy Cox (14:27), Nick Pultro (14:34) Jacob Pultro (14:40), Trenton Palmer (14:41), Chandler Mansfield (14:54), Bryce Whitfield (14:59), Jarad Helms (15:27), Joey Battisto (16:23) and Chandler Nelson (16:46).