Bryant girls sweep OBU meet
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ARKADELPHIA — In a testament to pack running, the Bryant Lady Hornets won the team title at the annual Bob Gravett Invitational cross country meet at Ouachita Baptist University on Saturday, Sept. 9, without placing an individual runner in the top 10. Led by juniors Nicole Darland and Lennon Bates, who were 13th and 14th, respectively, the Lady Hornets wound up with just 50 points to edge a pair of 7A-Central Conference rivals, Cabot with 56 and Mount St. Mary’s with 69.
In addition, Bryant won the junior girls division, as well, with freshman Sammy Cyz and eighth-grader Kaytlyn Stracener finishing in the top 10. Bryant accumulated 67 points. Second-place Arkadelphia had 77 with Lake Hamilton third with 82.
The season-opening high school event included 11 teams and 121 runners, the junior high event included 12 teams and 116 runners.
“Our senior girls proved how important it is to pack run and minimize gaps between runners in a cross country race,” acknowledged Lady Hornets coach Dan Westbrook. “Cabot had us beat up front, but our top five girls did a great job of staying close. M’Kenna Moore our fifth finisher had a really outstanding race.”
Darland and Bates both finished the course with an official time of 21:59. Sophomore Brittany Hairston was right with them, finishing 15th in 22:01. Not far back came Chelsea Mansfield who wound up 18th in 22:17 with Moore completing the scoring group with a 22:30 clocking that was good for 20th.
Cabot runners claimed the first three places in the race, which normally would virtually guarantee a team victory, but their fourth and fifth runners finished 23rd and 27th. But, with all five finishers in the top 20, Bryant had a very impressive 31-second gap between their scoring runners.
Other Bryant finishers included Sara Coker 27th (22:54), Sam Wirzfeld 30th (23:14), Lola Fleming 33rd (23:23), Amber Westbrook 35th (23:26), Melanie Bergen 39th (23:42), Mikayla Speake 46th (24:14), Paula Barrientos 50th (24:27), Taylor Henley 93rd (29:29), and Britnie Gortnie 109th (35:19).
For the junior girls, Cyz was fourth overall with a time of 12:56 while Stracener was 10th in 13:54. Freshman Karlee Porter was 17th in 14:44 and eighth-grader Callie Smith was 24th in 15:12. Completing the scoring quintet was freshman Andrea Savage who was 26th in 15:18.
“I thought our Jr. Girls ran great,” Westbrook commented. “It’s always nice to win the first meet. We had several team members set personal best times. I thought Karlee Porter and Callie Smith both had outstanding races.”