Hornets out-duel Russellville
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).
For the second year in a row, the Bryant Hornets captured top team honors at their lone home cross country meet of the season, the Bryant Invitational, held at Mills Park on Saturday, Sept. 18.
The Junior Hornets just missed making it a sweep, falling four points short of Russellville in the junior boys division.
Ethan Blakley, Chris Robinson and Steven Bright all finished in the top seven to lead the senior boys’ effort. Bryant finished with 49 points. Russellville was second with 71 in the 19-team event.
“We are quite happy to win our home meet for the second year in a row,” commented head coach Steve Oury. “Russellville may not have been at full strength, but right now that doesn’t matter. We did what we had to do to win the meet.”
Blakley finished second with a time of 16:36. Robinson was fifth in 17:20 and Bright was seventh in 17:40. Alvin Rapien and Andrew Linder completed the Hornets’ scoring five. Rapien was 13th in 18:20 and Linder was 28th in 10:06.
“It would have been nice if Ethan could have won the race, but getting beat by Quincy Googe is nothing to be ashamed of,” Oury said. “He’s the three-time defending state AAAA champion, plus he was the individual champion here last year. Ethan made him really work for it. This is not an easy course, so the times they ran were quite good.”
Blakley, however, was not satisfied.
“Before the race, I thought I was prepared and I felt good but when I got in there, my legs were just dead,” he said. “I don’t know why.
“Last week at OBU, I ran 16:07 and I ran a 16:36 this week,” he continued. “It’s a harder course but there still shouldn’t have been that much time. I still should’ve been faster. When you know you should win, it makes you feel that much worse. But it’s a long season ahead, so I’m looking forward.”
Googe, who finished in 16:33.6, and Blakley ran close the entire race.
“I tried to pass and he was blocking me,” Blakley, a sophomore, said. “That’s what you’re supposed to do. Every time I tried to surge, it just wasn’t there. We’re actually starting speed work next week. We haven’t done any at all yet. That’ll help a lot. That’s how we train though, to build toward the important stuff at the end of the season.”
Robinson’s effort was particularly pleasing to Oury.
“Chris ran a personal record time and beat his time from last week by over 20 seconds, which is amazing,” said the coach. “Steven ran about the same time as last week, but with the degree of difficulty of our course, that’s not a bad thing.
“Once again, Alvin and Andrew did good jobs at the four and five spots for us,” he added. “Andrew has been nursing a sore hamstring, so I was glad to see him make it through the race healthy.”
Jeremy Acord (21:45) and Wil Wilson (22:00) also competed for the Hornets, who will run at the annual UALR Invitational at Murray Park in Little Rock on Saturday, Sept. 25.
“We hope to defend our title at the UALR meet,” said Oury, “then we’ll take a week off from racing and try to get in some quality training.”
In the junior boys event, Bryant placed four runners in the top 10. Thomas Fancher of Russellville took top honors with a time of 11:31, but Bryant’s Joey Fuoco stepped up to finish second in 11:43 with teammate Ben Higgs on his heels in third with a time of 11:49. Josh Harrison took sixth for the Junior Hornets, running 11:58. Cody Fiser was 10th in 12:10. To complete Bryant’s scoring group, Tyler O’Neal finished 13th overall with a time of 12:17. Todd McAddo was close behind finishing 15th in 12:27.
Bryant finished with 32 points, Russellville won with 28. Lakeside was a distant third with 115 points. In all, 11 teams competed.
“The junior high boys race was very exciting,” Oury stated. “It could have gone either way between us and Russellville. They were just a little bit better today, but we will get another shot at them when our junior high teams run at Russellville in two weeks.
“Joey and Ben are doing a great job leading the way for us,” added the coach, “and Josh Harrison broke through and dipped under the 12 minute barrier (for 2 miles) for the first time. The biggest improvement came from Cody Fiser, who took a large chunk of time off his personal record and ran a 12:10 for us.
“Despite the fact that Russellville won the meet, I was quite pleased with how we ran,” Oury noted. “Russellville has an outstanding team, but I think we do too.”
Also for Bryant, Zach Graham turned in a top 25 effort. His 12:52 was good for 22nd. Preston Adami was 27th in 13:01 followed by Cameron Whaley (13:30), Danny Powell (13:44), Matt Gray (13:56), Ben Griffin (13:58), Dustin Waymon (14:34), Jacob Pultro (14:41), Trenton Palmer (14:44), Bryce Whitfield (14:57), Chandler Mansfield (14:59), Jeremy Cox (14:59), Stacy King (15:09), Jarad Helms (16:17), Chandler Nelson (16:32), Nick Pultro (16:33) and Joey Battisto (16:36).