Bryant girls sweep at OBU meet
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ARKADELPHIA — The Bryant Lady Hornets paced a 14-team field (118 runners in all), with just 42 points, edging AAAAA-Central Conference rival Mount St. Mary’s 54 at the Ouachita Baptist University Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 11. And the Bryant junior girls made a sweep topping five other teams with 38 points, well ahead of second place Pulaski Academy with 91.
In the high school girls competition, beyond Bryant and Mount St. Mary’s, no team managed better than Pulaski Academy’s 149 points. And the Lady Hornets were competing without the No. 2 runner Mary Edwards, who was sidelined with an injury.
Senior Brooke Higgs led the Lady Hornets, finishing third overall with a time of 20:21 over the 5K course. Chelsea Mansfield was close behind, finishing in 20:50 to take fifth, with Jessica Sowell at her heels, finishing sixth in 20:51.
“Thank goodness they didn’t stop this race at the mile mark,” declared Lady Hornets head coach Danny Westbrook, “because Mount St. Mary’s had six girls in front of our second girl. I thought we did a good job of not panicking and just methodically picking them off as we got closer to the finish line. Brooke did a good job running up front with the leaders. Jessica and Chelsea gradually caught each of the Mount St. Mary’s girls that got out ahead of them and then just blew them away.”
But Westbrook said he was especially proud of senior Nicole Sample who passed several runners in the late stages of the race to finish 17th in a time of 22:13.
“She really stepped up and showed a lot of heart,” said the coach.
Kim Bergen completed the scoring quintet for Bryant. She finished right with Sample, taking 18th in 22:30.
Sam Montgomery was 24th for Bryant, finishing in 22:53 followed by Sarah James (30th, 23:26), Michelle Ford (41st, 24:21) and Cecily Davis (68th, 26:01).
Though there were just six teams in the junior high race, that included 132 runners. The Junior Lady Hornets were led by Lennon Bates, Nicole Darland and Amber Westbrook who each finished in the top 10. Bates was 5th in 13:15, Darland 6th in 13:16 and Westbrook 9th in 13:27.
Brittney Hairston, an eighth grader, and Sara Coker finished 12th and 13th, respectively, to compete Bryant’s top five. Hairston ran a 13:51, Coker a 13:57.
“Our junior girls team is extremely talented and they work hard,” Westbrook asserted. “That hard work really showed. We were pretty well in control of the team race by the first mile. I thought Brittany Hairston had a great race. Also I was proud of Sara Coker. She flew by several people at the end with an awesome finishing kick.”
Four other Junior Lady Hornets finished in the top 25. Melanie Bergen was 16th in 14:09, Lola Fleming 19th in 14:16, Samantha Wirzfeld 22nd in 14:24 and MiKayla Speake 23rd in 14:26.
M’Kenna Moore was right there too, finishing 28th in 14:36.
The Bryant contingent also included Sarah Finley (15:05), Christen Kirchner (15:55), Kimberly Womack (16:14), Mellanie Johnson (16:14), Martha Swaty (16:48), Sarah Davis (17:09), Taylor Henley (17:20), Lori Williams (17:37), Leslie Walker (18:37) and Tiffany Rogers (18:49).
The two teams will next compete at their only home meet, the Bryant Invitational, Saturday, Sept. 18, beginning with the junior girls race at 9:30 a.m.