Lady Hornets top Arkansas squad at OBU Invitational
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 — The defending girls cross country champions of the largest classifications in Arkansas and Tennessee tangled in a re-match at the Ouachita Baptist University Invitational meet on Saturday, Sept. 13. A year ago, on their way to the Tennessee title, the girls from Houston High School in Germantown planted the lone loss of the season on the eventual Arkansas champs, the Bryant Lady Hornets at the OBU event. The gap was considerable. This time, Houston prevailed again but just barely.
Houston edged the Lady Hornets for the team title at the 11-team meet with a late surge, finishing with 53 points to Bryant’s 56.
The Lady Hornets, ranked No. 2 in Arkansas this season, finished with a wide margin over third-place Lake Hamilton (75 points). AAAAA-Central Conference rival Mount St. Mary’s was fourth with 96 points.
In junior high competition, the Junior Lady Hornets put seven runners in the top 10 and eased to the team title in a field of seven teams with 23 points. Pulaski Academy was second with 59 points.
In the senior event, both Houston and Bryant placed their scoring five in the top 20. Junior Brooke Higgs led the Lady Hornets, finishing fourth overall in a time of 15:19, just seconds ahead of sophomore teammate Mary Edwards who was seventh in 15:50.
Sophomore Jessica Sowell (13th in 16:33), junior Jessica Finley (14th in 16:35) and soph Cari Odle (18th in 16:42) completed Bryant’s top five.
“I am really proud of our senior girls,” stated Lady Hornets coach Danny Westbrook. “Last year, Houston showed up at this meet and really kicked us good, so we wanted to give them a little bit more competition this year. We actually were leading the team race going into the last half mile, but they closed on us and got us at the finish.
“I thought Brooke and Mary did a good job of getting us critical points up front,” Westbrook added. “I was especially pleased with our ‘pack attack’ group of Jessica Sowell, Jessica Finley, Cari Odle, and Nicole Snyder and Nicole Sample. They ran a textbook race on how to group run in a cross country meet. They stayed together and paced each other throughout the race and finished close together. We’ve worked hard on that strategy and it paid off today.”
Snyder was Bryant’s sixth runner with a 17:06 (26th). Sample ran a 17:11 (29th).
The Lady Hornets were still running without Kim Bergen and Samantha Montgomery who are recovering from injuries. Teresa Alverio finished in 18:26 followed by teammates Michelle Ford (19:09), Jamie Waldron (19:24), Amy Whitworth (19:34) and Amber Bengtson (20:27).
For the Junior Lady Hornets, Chelsea Mansfield and Sarah James turned in top 10 performances. Mansfield was third overall with a time of 10:32 over the 1.5 mile course. James was seventh in 10:55.
Completing the team’s scoring quintet were eighth graders Lennon Bates (11th in 11:25), Nicole Darland (12th in 11:26) and Sara Coker (16th in 11:35).
In addition, eighth graders Samantha Wirzfeld (17th in 11:44) and M’Kenna Moore (20th in 11:49) finished in the top 20.
“I’m very proud of our junior girls winning the team championship today,” Westbrook said. “I think it will be the first of many this season. Chelsea Mansfield and Sarah James did their job up front and then our pack of eighth graders sealed the win.”
Kimberly Womack was Bryant’s eighth runner with a time of 12:01 to finish 23rd overall. She was followed by teammates Sarah Finley (12:38), Brittany Dunlap (12:39), Amber Westbrook (12:52), Cecily Davis (12:54), Bryanna Austin (13:15), Laci Rowland (13:31), Abby Teeter (13:33), Ashley Tyhurst (13:44), Sarah Davis (14:16), Shelby Owens (14:58), Lori Williams (15:21), Briana Ginn (15:22), Emily Kirk (16:19), Leslie Walker (16:24), Courtney Hollis (16:28) and Jennifer Tucker (18:56).