Russellville gets best of duel with Bryant this time
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).
LITTLE ROCK — For the second week in a row, Bryant Hornets junior Ethan Blakley started aggressively, established a lead and held off all challengers to capture an individual cross country title. This time, Blakley and his Hornets teammates weren’t running on the Mills Park course at home, they were making their way through the Murray Park course in the annual UALR Invitational.
Despite a challenge from a Jonesboro runner, Blakley came through with a winning time of 16:33 to lead his team to a second-place finish.
Russellville, which finished second to the Hornets at the previous week’s Bryant Invitational, got the better of it this time, finishing with 38 points. Bryant had 72 followed by Little Rock Catholic (103), Cabot (114) and Conway (116). Catholic and Conway are the Hornets’ AAAAA-Central Conference rivals.
In junior boys competition, Bryant placed all five of its scoring runners incredibly in a mere 10-second span but it wasn’t enough to overtake Lake Hamilton and Conway for team honors. Lake Hamilton won the nine-team, 165-runner event with 65 points, Conway finished with 82 and Bryant with 89.
The Bryant teams run at the Russellville Invitational this Saturday, Oct. 1.
“Ethan ran a strong race once again,” said Hornets head coach Steve Oury. “He took charge early and never trailed. The kid from Jonesboro started to make a move on him with about 800 meters to go but Ethan responded beautifully and never let him get any closer.
“In the team race, Russellville had a tremendous performance,” noted the coach. “You have to take you hat off to them. They had one runner improve 1:26 from last week at Mills Park, and then they moved their best ninth grader up to senior high and he did a great job. We knew they would have an outstanding team before the year was up.
“We haven’t started our speed work yet, so I think we still have lots of room to improve,” he added. “Some of our guys had dead legs today, but that happens sometimes during the strength phase of training. We still gave a good effort.”
Sophomore Joey Fuoco turned in a top 10 performance for the Hornets. His time of 17:42 was good for ninth. Soph Josh Harrison was Bryant’s third runner at 18:06, good for 17th place. Ben Higgs was 28th in 18:41 and Cody Fiser 31st in 18:43 to account for Bryant’s scoring group. Todd McAdoo wasn’t far behind at 18:49, good for 33rd, and senior Chris Robinson continued his comeback from injury with a 19:05, good for 40th.
That group was followed by Hornets Alvin Rapien (19:44), Zech Krick (19:46), Preston Adami (19:59), Tyler O’Neal (20:38), Zack Orick (21:15), Jeremy Cox (22:42), Nick Pultro (23:25) and Ben Griffin (23:48).
Sixteen teams and a whopping 192 runners competed in the high school division.
The junior boys’ pack runner was impressive but their top finisher, eighth grader Austin Benning was 15th overall, finishing with a time of 11:16.
“I’m extremely proud of this group of guys,” Oury stated. “They never give up. To have your top five finish in a 10 second spread is almost unheard of. As has been the case all year, we just couldn’t get a presence up in the front of the race. It wasn’t for lack of trying, though. There are some extremely talented and experienced ninth grade runners at schools like Russellville, Lake Hamilton, and Conway who are running some fast times each week. Our top three runners today were all eighth graders in their first year of competition.”
That included Dillon Rhodes whose 11:17 to good for 16th and Jacob Clark who was 17th in 11:19. Drew Persinger was next in the pack, finishing 19th in 11:21 with Brandon Mueller on his heels at 11:26, good for 22nd. Danny Powell (23rd in 11:30) and Cameron Whaley (25th in 11:33) were right in that pack as well and Tremelle Overton (34th in 11:45) wasn’t far back.
“We are getting better each week,” Oury noted. “We were able to defeat Russellville this week after they won our meet last week, so that was very encouraging. Hopefully we can continue to improve next week when we go up to Russellville.”
The Junior Hornets’ next group of runners was paced by Chad Swanner who finished 41st with a time of 12:04. He was followed by Chris DuBose (12:12), Colton Klaas (12:28), Matt Gray (12:42), Zach Graham (12:56), Jonathan Kooiman (13:01), Ian Russell (13:01), Matt Norton (13:03), Brett Carter (13:20), Trenton Palmer (13:25), Jacob Pultro (13:36), Tyler Webb (13:39), Whit Pruitt (13:40), Matt Hill (13:41), Josh Spurlock (13:54), Daniel Tucker (14:11), Jared Helms (14:37), Nick Love (17:14) and Ken Vega (18:26).