Blakley wins, Robinson returns as Hornets take home meet
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).
Behind the winning effort of Ethan Blakley and a rally by their second through eighth runners in the final mile, the Bryant Hornets overcame the rival Russellville Cylcones to capture their third consecutive team title at their home meet, the Bryant Invitational at Mills Park on Saturday, Sept. 17.
In the junior boys division, it was Russellville that came out on top, edging the pack-running Junior Hornets by a mere two points, 68-70. Sheridan was third at 75.
Blakley set a new course record of 16:33.92 over the 5K (3.1 mile) course. And the Hornets placed seven other runners in the top 22 with the top five compiling a team score of 38 points. Russellville was second with 56. Cabot was third with 74. In all, 140 runners and nine teams participated.
“That was a great victory for us,” said head coach Steve Oury. “We had to come from behind in the last mile, because Russellville was dominating us going in to the back trail of the park just before the two mile point. We really had to rally to overtake them. Needless to say, Ethan ran a great race. He executed his race plan to perfection and won comfortably.”
“There’s not a whole lot of people here but Russellville’s really good and they have some, especially one good front runner that finished second,” Blakley noted. “My goal was just to lose him as fast as I could. That was probably the fastest I’ve run out this year. My goal was just to lose him around the first mile and try to keep it and that’s what I did.
“It’s a lot harder than most courses,” he added. “It’s really hilly and it’s on grass and on pavement both so the footing’s a little hard. It’s a tough course so you kind of have to set your strategy a little bit, surge up the hills. I was pleased with my time because we’ve been doing some really, really hard training.”
“We have emphasized strength in our training and have been putting in the miles necessary to insure that we will be strong in the third mile of the race,” Oury explained. “This race showed that we are on the right track. It took a lot of strength and courage for those guys to rally like that up the hill in the third mile, so we should be able to take a lot of confidence from this.”
Sophomore Joey Fuoco was Bryant’s second runner. He placed sixth overall in a time of 17:55.02 with classmate Josh Harrison on his heels in seventh with a time of 17:55.44).
The Hornets got a big lift from Alvin Rapien who finished 14th in 18:13.43 and senior Chris Robinson, in his first competition of the season after recovering from an ankle injury. He was Bryant’s fifth runner, finishing 21st in 18:38.69. Todd McAdoo was 18th overall in 18:29.56. Cody Fiser was right behind Robinson in 22nd with a time of 18:39.03.
“Fuoco and Harrison made big moves in the third mile, as did Rapien and McAdoo,” Oury noted. “Alvin Rapien had a tremendous performance. He cut almost 40 seconds off of his time from last week, so his performance was one of the keys for victory.
“We need to keep trying to reduce the time gap between Ethan and the rest of our pack, but we did a good job from positions 2 through 8, with only a 44 second gap from Fuoco to Fiser.”
“The team did awesome,” Blakley stated. “They were all right together. I’m really proud of them, especially Chris. He’s probably run less than 20 times since the summer. For him to be right there with our top five group is great.”
Robinson had twisted his ankle coming down from a mountain during a summer hiking and mountaineering trip to Washington state.
“It was hard, I haven’t run in a while,” he said. “I went out a little too fast but, other than that, I was all right. I ran a little better than what coach told me I needed to run but I was kind of disappointed. I was over a minute slower than last year.”
And the ankle? “It hurts sometimes, like when I twist it side to side but other than that it’s fine,” Robinson reported.
Rounding out the Hornets winning effort was Zach Orick (42nd in 19:44.06), Zech Krick (46th in 19:50.75), Tyler O’Neal (52nd in 20:12.21), Preston Adami (60th in 20:45.87), Jeremy Cox (87th in 22:09.01), and Ben Griffin (129th in 24:17.25).
The Bryant junior team had to contend with a Russellville brother act, Michael and David Norris, who finished 1-2. And, despite their top runner finishing 9th overall, the Junior Hornets almost pulled it off. That’s because they placed 10 runners in the top 30.
“What a great race,” Oury declared. “It’s a shame someone had to come out on the short end of it. Russellville had an 18 point advantage over us through the first two positions and our pack running gave us a great chance to steal the victory, but we came up just short. I think we can learn some valuable lessons from this race. Hopefully we can get our top runner each week to close the gap at the front so we aren’t giving up too many points, but considering that only one runner in our top five in this race ran last year, I think we are doing great.”
Eighth grader Austin Benning once again led the way for the Junior Hornets with that ninth place finish in a time of 12:19.44.
The team’s scoring quintet also included Cameron Whaley (12th in 12:23.69), Drew Persinger (14th in 12:30.92), Brandon Mueller (16th in 12:33.84), and Jake Clark (19th in 12:37.69).
Dillon Rhodes (20th in 12:38.67) was on the heels of Clark as was Danny Powell (21st in 12:39.25). Then came Tremelle Overton (24th in 12:47.68), Matt Norton (25th in 12:50.38), and Chad Swanner (30th in 13:02.76) to complete Bryant’s top 30 pack.
In addition, Bryant’s contingent included Chris DuBose (13:10), Colton Klaas (13:36), Zach Graham (13:38), Matt Gray (13:41), Cash Lambert (13:47), Tyler Webb (14:01), Jonathan Kooiman (14:04), Ian Russell (14:06), Matt Hill (14:15), Trenton Palmer (14:17), Whit Pruitt (14:19), Josh Spurlock (14:27), Daniel Tucker (14:31), Brett Carter (14:33), Levi Lindsley, (15:04), Jared Helms (15:43), Nick Love (17:25), and Ken Vega (17:49).
“We will look to keep improving next week at the UALR Invitational at Rebsamen Golf Course,” Oury said.