Bryant girls sweep home meet titles
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Despite a late scratch by senior Mary Edwards, who was suffering from shin splints, the Bryant Lady Hornets overcame an unexpected challenge from Monticello, to capture the team title at the annual Bryant Invitational cross country meet at Mills Park on Saturday, Sept. 17.
The Junior Lady Hornets, likewise, prevailed, holding off a challenge from Cabot North with seven finishers in the top 15.
It was the second time in as many meets this season that the Bryant girls have swept team honors. They’ll try again on Saturday, Sept. 24, at Rebsamen Park in Little Rock at the UALR Invitational.
Sophomore Nicole Darland paced the high school girls, finishing fourth overall in a time of 20:59. Jessica Sowell was seventh in 21:38 and Chelsea Mansfield eighth in 21:46. Lennon Bates and Amber Westbrook completed Bryant’s scoring five. Bates was 12th overall in a time of 22:16 and Westbrook was 17th in 22:38.
The Lady Hornets finished with 24 points to Monticello’s 48. Russellville was third with 73 followed by Cabot (88), Mena (109) and Watson Chapel (145).
“Monticello really gave us a race today,” stated Lady Hornets head coach Danny Westbrook. “We were thinking all week that Russellville would be our only real competition but Monticello surprised us. We didn’t control the outcome of the race till the very end. I thought we did a good job of not panicking and just picked opponents off as we neared the finish. I thought Nicole Darland did a good job running up front in the race and Jessica, Chelsea, and Lennon packed together well. With Mary out of the race, Amber Westbrook stepped up big time. She came through with a big performance as our fifth finisher when we absolutely had to have it.”
Kim Bergen helped by finishing 21st in 22:49 with M’Kenna Moore 24th in 23:12. Sara Coker turned in a 23:51 followed by Sam Wirzfeld (24:00), Cecily Davis (25:01), Sam Montgomery (25:28), Kimberly Womack (28:19) and Lori Williams (33:28).
In the junior girls competition, Bryant eighth grader Samantha Cyz was the individual champion. She took an early lead and cruised to victory, finishing with a time of 13:05 over the two-mile course. Teammate Brittany Hairston was on her heels, finishing second in 13:15. Lola Fleming (5th in 13:55), Jessica Shepard (ninth in 14:14) and Mikayla Speake (10th in 14:18) completed the Junior Lady Hornets scoring group giving Bryant a score of 24 points to Cabot North’s 40. Russellville was a distant third with 108. Nine teams and 111 runners competed in the event.
Beyond the scoring quintet, Bryant’s Mellanie Johnson (14th in 14:31) and Melanie Bergen (15th in 14:43) also earned top 15 medals.
“Cabot North did a great job of pack running today and had us beat midway through the race,” Westbrook noted. “Our girls did a good job of coming back and passing them before the finish. We will face them about every week of the season and it will be a battle every meet.
“Samantha Cyz is establishing herself as one of the top junior high runners in the state,” he added. “She has tremendous talent and works extremely hard. I was also proud of Brittany Hairston’s second place finish. She was out sick on Friday but came back with an outstanding effort on Saturday.”
Andrea Savage was just out of the medal running for Bryant. She was right behind Bergen, placing 16th in a time of 14:49. She was followed by Catherine Fletcher (22nd in 15:12) and Meredith Scott (25th in 15:15). After that, it was Martha Swaty (15:40),
Miranda Wilkerson (15:41), Christen Kirchner (15:50), Shelby Wyatt (15:51), Kristin Morehart (16:04), Kayla Randolph (16:18), Shannon Fiser (16:32), Jessica Salyers (16:47), Hailey Walker (16:54), Madison Smith (16:58), Kelsey Caddy (17:23), Michelle Goodson (17:39), Maria Pinkerton (17:33), Karlee Porter (17:41), Tiffany Rogers (17:58), Lindsey Blakley (18:03), Courtney Hodge (18:20) and Emily Gathright (19:36).