Blakley sets BJHS mark
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ARKADELPHIA — Freshman Ethan Blakley probably won’t be running any more junior high races in cross country this fall. For the second week in a row, he set a new Bryant Junior High record, this time running a 10:53 over the two-mile course to lead the Junior Hornets to a second-place finish in the junior high division of the Ouachita Baptist University Invitational on Saturday, Sept. 13.
Just a week before, Blakley snapped the school record at Bryant’s annual intrasquad meet at Mills Park. He bested that by three seconds at OBU, finishing a whopping 40 seconds ahead of the runner-up.
Even without Blakley, the Bryant High School team turned in a third-place finish in the senior division, led by Bryan Ballew and Steven Bright who finished in the top 10 individually.
“I’m glad Ethan closed his junior high career out in style,” commented Hornets cross country coach Steve Oury. “He will be a real asset to the senior boys team. If Ethan had run with the senior boys today, I believe we would have had a great shot to win the meet.”
As it was, the Hornets, with 88 points, were only topped by Lake Hamilton (62 points) and De Queen (69). Cabot finished a distant fourth with 121 points, followed by Hot Springs Lakeside (200).
Ballew finished the 5K course in 17:13, good for third place, just a second behind Mena’s Cade Lambert. Burt Hicks of Lake Hamilton ran away with the individual title with a time of 16:05.
Bright was eighth overall with a time of 17:47. The Hornets scoring quintet also included Zach Roberson (14th in 18:21), Chris Robinson (27th in 19:29) and Adam Schneider (36th, 20:00).
“I am very pleased with the senior boys performance,” Oury stated. “Bryan ran the first part of the race a little easier than I would have liked. He was actually eight seconds behind Steven at the one-mile mark and was probably in about 12th place. But he is just so strong, he was able to pass everyone ahead of him except for the first two finishers.
“Steven and Zach both ran strong races and hung in there strong over the last mile,” Oury added. “The wet course and high humidity made it a difficult day for fast times. Chris is showing signs of rounding into form. Adam ran a gutsy last mile to really make up ground on a lot of people. I was very pleased with his effort.”
Also for the Hornets, Tino Kretschmer ran a 20:51, Andrew Linder finished in 21:06, Allen Trotter in 21:16, Zach Williams in 21:17 and Zach Barnes in 22:47.
In all 133 runners representing 17 teams competed in the race.
Blakley’s performance for the BJHS team was not the only outstanding effort. Alvin Rapien turned in a personal best time of 11:51 to finish third overall and Justin Hefner made the top 10. His 12:24 was good for ninth.
Jeremy Accord (19th in 12:59) and Ben Higgs (20th in 12:59) completed the Junior Hornets’ top five.
“Alvin was the surprise of the day,” Oury stated. “He showed a lot of courage and determination with his third-place showing. He and Justin will have to lead the way for this group after Ethan moved up to the senior high distance.”
The BJHS contingent also included Tyler O’Neal (13:19), Will Wilson (13:44), Billy Stanford (13:48), Preston Adami (15:00), Robert Fluharty (15:20), Adam Staeden (15:52), and Ben Griffin (16:19).
“Almost every Bryant finisher in the junior boys race ran a faster time than last week,” Oury noted. “That is a trend I would like to see continue.”
The Junior Hornets finished with 50 points, second only to Lake Hamilton’s 32. Little Rock Catholic was third in the field of eight teams with 77 points. Eighty-four runners competed.