Stafford, Linder among top 5
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).
ARKADELPHIA — Seniors David Stafford and Graham Linder turned in strong performances and both finished in the top five as the Bryant Hornets finished second in the senior boys division of the Ouachita Baptist University cross country invitational meet Saturday, Sept. 8.
In junior boys action, Bryant, which had won its previous meet at UALR, was edged out by Hot Springs Lakeside.
Stafford and Linder too turns sharing the lead in the early stages of the senior boys race. At the finish, Stafford hung on for second overall while Linder captured fourth. Stafford ran a 16:56, Linder a 17:55.
Cody Walker also had a strong showing at 12th place in a time of 18:43.
There was a big drop off after that, however, as the Hornets seek to improve their fourth and fifth place positions. Thomas Spencer was Bryant’s fourth finisher, running a 19:38 to place 36th. Ethan Thomason, a senior running his first race of the season after recovering from illness, completed the team’s scoring group. His 20:40 time was 59th.
Bryant’s AAAAA-South Conference rival Lake Hamilton won the 19-team event with 56 points. Bryant had 104 with Conway third with 130.
The Hornets runners also included Matt Arnold (20:51), Zach Roberson (21:58), Bryan Ballew (23:05), Mark Pagan (24:11), and Michael Parker (25:50).
“Dave Stafford ran an awesome race to finish second,” commented Hornets coach Bodie Nance. “Our work load is still only about half of where we will be in November. Dave should continue to improve each week and from now until state.
“Graham and Cody both did great,” Nance added. “I can’t ask for much more from these three guys. They just go out and get it done in practice and in the race on Saturday.
“Thomas continues to improve each week,” he noted. “Ethan was back racing this week but it will take him a few weeks to get back to normal after his bout with the flu. Matt is coming on each week too. We are right on target, so we just have to stay positive and continue to improve week to week.”
The Mustangs placed two runners in the top 10. Josh Wright was the lead runner for Bryant, finishing seventh in a time of 12:28. Leon Spencer was 10th in 12:43.
Lakeside finished with 55 points to Bryant’s 65. Lake Hamilton was third in 69. Benton, led by individual winner Jacob Guerin, placed fourth in the 12-team meet.
Kyle Henderson, Kevin Bunch and Clayton Risner completed Bryant’s scoring quintet. Henderson finished 15th overall in 13:00 with Bunch 19th in 13:10. Risner followed in 22nd place with a time of 13:17.
“Except for Josh and Leon, we had a new top five this week from what we had at UALR last Saturday,” Nance noted. “We have a lot of good strong runners on this team who are willing to compete for the top spots. It’s nice to have the kind of depth that, in the event someone does not show up or has a bad day, we can still contend.
“Kyle is just an eighth grader and he turned in a fantastic performance,” Nance added. “Josh just had an awesome race. He has so much sheer heart and gets more out of himself than anyone on the team. He is just a tremendous competitor.”
Also competing for Bryant, Matthew Wilder was 24th in 13:18 and Michael Wilder was 26th in 13:24. Austin Johnson was 30th in 13:33 followed by Cole McAllister (13:36), Paul DeGarmo (13:37), Andrew Linder (13:42), Chris Robinson (13:43), Chase Whaley (14:09), Kirs Rainbolt (14:11), Allen Trotter (14:16), Ryan Hill (14:23), Riley Sears (14:34), Josh Woodell (14:34), Brandon Jackson (14:38), Kelly Lidzy (15:09), Graham Giffiths (15:13), Wezley Griffin (15:31), Jeff Ward (16:14), Shane Skinner (17:06) and Garrett Brown (18:00).
The Hornets return to action on Saturday, Sept. 15, at the Southern Missouri Stampede in Joplin. The junior high team is off until the Bryant Invitational on Sept. 22 at Mills Park.
“We’ll see Lakeside at our meet,” Nance noted. “They better be ready because, believe me, the Mustangs will be out for revenge.”