Yearly results list season-to-date times for all runners, with matching times from past years for returning runners. Junior high races range from 1.55 to 2 miles, and may vary from meet to meet and sometimes from year to year at the same meet. The tables generally make note of that.
5A State Championship, Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, Friday, Nov. 3
Defending 5A state champion Jillian Jones led the Batesville Lady Pioneers cross-country team to a strong third place finish Friday in the 5A State Championships at Oaklawn Park. The boys finished eighth. The Pioneers shift classifications to 4A next year, but went out on top, winning the 5A East titles Oct. 24 at Crowley’s Ridge College.
The girls dueled to the wire Friday at Oaklawn with Vilonia edging them 101-104 behind Little Rock Christian’s winning low total of 46.
Jones, bothered by injuries and limited in practice, nevertheless ran in the top five most of the race, hanging on for seventh and all-state honors in 21:36. That is nearly two minutes slower than her winning time last year as a freshman.
Coach Diane Treadway praised the performance: “She ran on guts and natural ability. Nobody else could have run that well with limited training and nagging injuries. She left it all out there; I wasn’t sure she had enough left to cross the finish line.”
The top 10 percent of the field earn all-state recognition, and classmate Lauren Cowden outkicked several competitors over the last quarter mile to finish 14th in the field of 140 at 22:29 on the 5K course.
Overall finishes determine all-state honors, but places are recalculated for team scoring, with runners on teams of fewer than five dropped out, as are eighth or ninth runners on teams of more than seven. Jones finished sixth and Cowden 13th for team scoring, with overall champion Ruthie Ryan of Harrison representing a short-handed team.
Pioneer freshman Kaylee Clark had a three-way fight in the last hundred yards, finishing 19th/17th with an identical time to the tenth of a second with Rebecah Ortega (18th/16th) of LR Christian at 22:39.70.
State 5A 800 meter-champ Lexi Edwards finished 32nd/29th in 23:40. Freshman Tori Roddy (43rd/39th) dropped a minute off her senior high 5K debut on the same Oaklawn course Oct. 14 to round out the scoring, also in a dead heat with DeQueen’s Catherine Ousse (44th/40th) in 24:21.7.
5A East rival Valley View matched the Batesville score at 104, but the tiebreaker went to sixth runner Madelyn Cunningham, moved up to senior high just Oct. 14 with Clark and Roddy. Valley View only had five runners. Batesville’s seventh runner, recent Lyon College softball signee Celsey Wood, ran her personal best 27:08 for 81st/70th place.
The Lady Pioneers had edged Valley View 28-32 at district, with Jones defending her 2016 title, Cowden taking third, Clark fourth, Edwards ninth, and Cunningham clinching the win in 14th place.
The Pioneer boys also had dominated at 5A East, placing five in the top 10 and eight in the top 15 to easily outrun host Greene County Tech, 28-56. The competition was tougher Friday at state, with junior Alex Keister leading the Pioneers in 26th overall at 18:39. With a field of 160, only the top 16 earned all-state recognition. The Pioneers improved on their performances on the same course a couple of weeks ago, however, with Keister a minute faster and freshman Gunner Shell, 46th in 19:33, improving by 1:30. Junior Aubrey Shell, Gunner’s brother, 55th place in 20:05, dropped two minutes for his personal best. Freshman Kaden Shaw, 65th in 20:29, and sophomore Peyton Fowler, 69th in 20:31, filled out the scoring five.
Sophomore Lane Lambert finished 82nd/73rd in 21:00.3 with freshman Brandon Grant fighting the heat and humidity in 93rd/83rd at 21:37. Juniors Tyler Mickle, 111th in 22:28.5, and Brian Briesmeister, 125th in 23:08.1, capped off a season of hard work with gritty performances.
First-year boys Coach Stan Fowler looked ahead while thanking the squad for bringing home the fourth consecutive district title in his debut season: “I admire their commitment to the hard work — there’s no place to hide in this sport. You get what you put into it, and I’m proud of their progress and their success. But we’re a young, deep team with room to improve, and I’m excited about our finish and being even better next year.”
5A East Championship, Crowley’s Ridge College, Paragould, Tuesday, Oct. 24.
The last trip to the 5A East district championships proved a truly grand finale for the Pioneers, who took both boys and girls team titles and earned nine of the 20 all-conference honors. Cool weather and district rivals brought out the best in the Pioneers despite the challenging hills on the Crowley’s Ridge College campus. The squads are freshmen-heavy and several were running their first or second varsity races, but still an impressive 14 of the 22 Pioneers ran their season’s best time.
The ladies formed a scoring team for just the second time all year, with freshmen Kaylee Clark, Madelyn Cunningham and Tori Roddy improving from their Lake Hamilton (Oaklawn) debuts. Jillian Jones led start to finish in defending her individual title, though the tough, rolling hills and limited practice slowed her from last year’s performance. Lauren Cowden ran second much of the way and held on through a battle with Valley View’s Kaylei Gober over the last mile to finish third in 22:25, just 20 seconds behind her classmate. Kaylee Clark worked her way up the pack to finish fourth another 10 seconds back. Lexi Edwards pushed past Valley View’s fourth and fifth runners into ninth place in 23:32, and Madelyn Cunningham dropped 80 seconds off her debut time (on the easier Oaklawn course) to take 14th place and secure the team title. Tori Roddy dropped nearly two minutes off her time at Oaklawn for 15th place. Senior Celsey Wood, recruited from the basketball courts just a few weeks ago to help form a full scoring team, earned 20th place with a strong finish past three competitors in the last 400 yards. She takes her competitive spirit to state next week with her first 5K under her belt in 27:14.
The Lady Pioneers topped Valley View 28-32 with host school Greene County Tech third at 63.
The boys moved all freshmen up for Batesville’s last district run before next year’s shift to 4A. With 15 on the starting line, the orange and black made up more than a third of the field of 42. The young Pioneers helped, but upperclassmen hit their stride too as five of the first 10 and eight of the first 15 places went to the men in black. Nettleton’s Kazdyn Chandler ran away from the field in 17:36, with Paragould’s Andrew Pantoja at 18:59 and Batesville junior Alex Keister finishing third, hundredths of a second ahead of the winner’s brother, Kedryn Chandler, in 19:10. It was a good day for brothers, as freshmen Gunner Shell raced to seventh in his best 19:40, with brother Aubry Shell dropping another minute off his best ever in ninth at 19:56. Hayden Keister, Alex’s brother, finished 17th in 20:50.
Running beside freshman Gunner Shell through the first two miles, classmate Brandon Grant earned his trip to state next week in his best of 19:54 in eighth place. Sophomore Peyton Fowler also recorded his season’s best in claiming his all-conference medal for 10th in 20:02. That gave the Pioneers 28 points to outdistance GCT with 56.
Sophomore Lane Lambert keeps moving up, notching his second consecutive PR, dropping a minute from 10 days ago, 12th in 20:18. Freshman Kaden Shaw put it all together for a well-paced race to his best at 20:30 in 14th place, just ahead of classmates Austin Scott, 15th in 20:33 and Hayden Keister.
Junior Tyler Mickle gets better and better in his first season, steadily improving to his best 21:46, good for 20th. Jorge Cervantes and Nery Mazariegos, freshmen transplants from soccer, said they ended up with interchanged bibs, so official results are reversed but Jorge ran 22:04 for 25th and Nery 23:31 for 31st in their first run at senior high distance. Freshman Aiden Lambert fought to 28th in 22:36, taking two minutes off his debut at Valley View, and classmate Devin Rice missed his best by a couple of seconds, 23:46 in 34th place. Junior Brian Briesmeister worked the hills for 29th place in 23:21.
The boys fought well throughout, digging hard to keep in front of chief challengers Valley View and Tech. Pioneer pride served them well in getting it done, as the younger Chandler made Nettleton the only team whose second runner beat any of Batesville’s first five.
All seven girls will go to Oaklawn next week for the 5A State Championships, and the boys will take the six upperclassmen and three freshmen. Gunner Shell will travel, and the next two freshmen Tuesday were Brandon Grant and Kaden Shaw. Hayden Keister has already run three senior high races and Austin Scott has been just a step or two behind Brandon or Kaden recently, so there is an outstanding core looking ahead to 2018.
Next up: 5A State Championship, Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, Friday, Nov. 3, senior high only, Boys 2 p.m., Girls 2:30.
Lake Hamilton Invitational, Oaklawn Race Track, Hot Springs, Saturday, Oct. 14
The Pioneers brought home a dusty dozen from a hot race Saturday at Oaklawn Park. Senior high sixes stepped off at the Lake Hamilton Invitational, with the girls fielding a scoring team for the first time all season.
Sophomore Jillian Jones finished 15th overall in 21:58. Classmate Lauren Cowden finished 19th of 212 a few seconds behind in 22:06. Freshman Kaylee Clark moved up for her first senior high race, 27th in a solid 22:40, just four days after winning the junior high Valley View Invitational. All three earned individual medals.
Junior Lexi Edwards ran early with Kaylee and fought through nausea to a top 75 finish in 24:46. Also moving up after racing Tuesday, freshmen Madelyn Cunningham rounded out the scoring five in 26:10 and Tori Roddy finished in 27:11. The team finished sixth overall at 220 points, sixth in 5A-7A with 167 points. Little Rock Christian won with 116/97.
The senior boys were first off the line on the dusty field outside the horse track, and Alex Keister led the Pioneers in 74th at 19:33. His brother Hayden followed up his senior high debut at Tuesday’s Valley View meet with a hard-finishing 20:05 in 100th place among 235 runners. Sophomore Peyton Fowler, 20:40, freshman Gunner Shell, 21:04, and sophomore Lane Lambert, 21:35, rounded out the scoring five. Lane’s run was his fastest ever, coming at a good time leading into district and state championships. Junior Aubry Shell also ran his fastest ever at 22:03 as he continues to drop minutes in returning to the form he showed in junior high when last he ran with the team.
Senior Tyler Mickle and junior Brian Briesmeister did not travel for the race.
All ninth graders will join the senior high boys squad for the district championship Oct. 24 at Crowley’s Ridge. The top five runners will make up the Pioneer score there, and the sixth and seventh runners will bump other teams’ scorers finishing behind them. In case of a points tie, the best sixth man determines the winner, or if one team has only its five scorers, the best fourth man is the tiebreaker. Nine runners will travel to the state championship back at Oaklawn on Friday, Nov. 3.
Next up: 5A East Championship, Crowley’s Ridge College, Paragould, Tuesday, Oct. 24, senior high only.
Valley View Invitational, Joe Mack Campbell Park, Tuesday, Oct. 10
The young Pioneers put the pedal to the metal at Joe Mack Campbell Park in the Valley View Invitational, with Kaylee Clark winning the junior high girls race and six ninth-grade boys running their first senior high race. The all-freshman squad fared well against district rivals, handily beating Valley View and narrowly losing to Greene County Tech, each running their full upperclass rosters. The freshmen give us deep strength for district, with four freshmen matching the rivals’ top three upperclassmen.
Even without their usual first five, the junior high boys finished third, placing five runners from 15th to 41st in team scoring.
Kaylee led the way, literally, as the junior girls started first and she went right to the front and held on to the finish of the two-mile race. Eighth-grader Maggie Walton contended with the top five most of the way to finish seventh in 14:19, with Tori Roddy 20th in 15:47, Madelyn Cunningham 24th in 16:19, and Andrianna Graydon 53rd in 18:11. The team finished tied for second, four points out of first, so a close finish here or there among the 93 girls could have pushed the Pioneers to the top.
The junior boys followed with eighth-graders Trey Moody and Noah Chaffin stepping into the leading roles. Trey finished 15th in 13:17 with Noah seconds behind in 19th at 13:27. Freshman Jorge Cervantes closed fast with Noah to claim 20th in 13:30, 90 seconds faster than his previous two-mile race in his debut at Heber Springs. Seventh-grader Tanner Queary dropped 30 seconds from his Heber Springs time, finishing 29th in 13:59. Eighth-grader Ian Seymore keeps moving up, rounding out Pioneer scoring in 44th place at 14:52. Freshman Nery Mazariegos ran the extra distance for the first time in a solid 15:10 on the flat course for 49th place. This is the final race of the season for the seventh and eighth graders, and all represented Pioneer Nation well. Seventh-grader Reece Looney ran 16:01 to grab 64th place out of 103. Dalton Friar dropped 80 seconds off his Heber Springs time at 17:25 in 78th place; Andrew Wixson ran 17:56 in 81st and Mason Evans ran 18:58 in 87th.
The senior girls and upperclass senior boys rested ahead of Saturday’s Lake Hamilton Invitational at Oaklawn, so the freshmen boys took on the senior high field of 115. Brandon Grant, Austin Scott, and Hayden Keister ran in a tight pack for the first mile just over 6:00, with Kaden Shaw just about 10 seconds behind. Hayden held the pace well, working up to 16th in 19:31, the fastest time of the year for any Pioneer except older brother Alex Keister. Brandon (24th in 20:18) and Austin (26th in 20:23) dropped a bit off the starting pace, but ran strong to good finishes. Kaden fought through for 38th in 20:58, giving the Pioneers four senior high runners under 21:00 in a race for the first time all season. Devin Rice has shown the most improvement year to year and rounded out our scoring five in 83rd place at 23:42. Aiden Lambert ran the 5K for the first time as a Pioneer in 24:57 for 93rd. The team score of 143 trailed Greene County Tech at 135 but topped Valley View at 180 in a peek at the likely chief competition for the Oct. 24 district meet at Crowley’s Ridge. Nettleton has one frontrunner but no other district schools have posted results showing team depth.
Oh, and that bit about “pedal to the metal”: It didn’t apply to the team bus, which developed engine trouble and had to be secured at the park. Neighboring Cave City gave the stranded Pioneers a lift to another Batesville bus back at Cave City. The Cavemen won the senior boys team title with four of the first seven runners, and they came through like champs with delivery service as well.
Congratulations to the young runners who have finished their seasons. They are welcome to continue practicing with the senior high through the state meet Nov. 3, and are encouraged to keep in the habit of running in the offseason to maintain fitness for spring track and looking further ahead to great things in 2018 cross-country.
Next up: Lake Hamilton Invitational, Oaklawn, Saturday, Oct. 14, senior high only, boys 10:30.
Salem Invitational, Salem High School, Tuesday, Oct. 3
***UPDATE 10/11/17: Official results are now available at the links below, so places may be checked and official times for senior boys reviewed.***
Steady light rain kept the Pioneers cool as several were able to post hot times and strong finishes at Salem. Some slight course modifications giving gentler turns and more mowed grass than dirt road seemed to make the traditionally fast race still faster this year, and particularly the junior boys took full advantage.
Some bookkeeping first: The race is hand timed and scored, and official results have yet to be posted. The rain affected my iPad touch screen, so my times are not as reliable as usual. Also, because the times and places were manually connected for scoring, some runners will have official times that do not match their actual finish because the tag order was not maintained in the finish chute. Those distortions are generally only a few seconds, and even with the uncertainty of my own recording, the improvement was such that all the season bests would stand up with corrected times.
The junior high girls got the chance to run in the rain first, and newcomer Andrianna Graydon celebrated her debut with the sprint of inexperience, leading the first 150 yards. She carried on as the pack passed, though, to a good first effort in 13:18. Kaylee Clark started just behind Adriana’s lead and stayed near the front of the pack throughout to finish fourth in 10:12, her best ever. Maggie Walton finished within a few seconds of her best in 10:44, with Tori Roddy at 11:09 and Madelyn Cunningham at 11:20, all a bit slower in the rain than at the same course last year.
The junior boys ran without season leader Gunner Shell, who moved up for the senior high race. Hayden Keister stepped right into the lead role, reeling in runners all the way to the finish in his best ever 9:09 with Brandon Grant a few strides behind in 9:11. Both will move up with all the ninth graders for the unlimited team size at district and are the odds-on choices to be among the nine who can run at state. Kaden Shaw at 9:30 and Austin Scott at 9:33 are also right in the mix for state selection. Eighth-grader Noah Chaffin ran a fantastic race to surprise as our fifth scorer in 9:59. He has been strong in speed work at practice and that paid off in his best ever Tuesday. The junior Pioneers then rolled in close together, with seventh-grader Tanner Queary, 10:09, nipping freshman Devin Rice, 10:10, Jorge Cervantes at 10:16 and Aiden Lambert at 10:18. All of those are personal bests. Nery Mazariegos followed in his personal best at 10:35, with Trey Moody at 10:51. Ethan Benton, 11:00, and Ian Seymore, 11:22, ran their best ever by nearly a minute. Seventh-grader Reece Looney trailed Ian by just a bit in 11:30. Andrew Wixson and Dalton Friar, both just over 12:00, dropped more than a minute from their previous best. Mason Evans continues to improve, taking 20 seconds off his fastest ever.
Lauren Cowden ran a strong race at the front of senior girls behind Melbourne freshman Kiley Webb. Lauren fought her way to second place with a few hundred yards to go but a Mountain Home runner came from even farther back to drop her to third. Lauren ran 22:01. Working hard behind her, Lexi Edwards ran her fastest ever battling the top 10 pack all the way to 13th in 22:50.
UPDATING 10/11/17 with times: I do not have reliable times for the senior boys, but Alex Keister finished 10th in 18:43. Freshman Gunner Shell ran second for the Pioneers in his first senior start, a strong 19:41 in 21st. Peyton Fowler (29th in 20:08) and Lane Lambert (46th, 21:45) followed with Aubry Shell dropping more than three minutes from the previous week in 55th at 22:19 and Tyler Mickle 58th in 22:24. Brian Briesmeister presses on through limited practice nursing injuries, running 24:07 in 74th of 107 racers.
Next up: Valley View Invitational, Joe Mack Campbell Park, Tuesday, Oct. 10, junior high and freshmen only, girls 4:00.
Sloan-Hendrix Invitational, Old Davidsonville Park, Pocahontas, Tuesday, Sept. 26
The Pioneers got a good gauge of midseason form on a challenging course familiar to our returning runners, with a look at conference challengers as well. The junior high boys again put five freshmen in the top 15 to easily win the team title with 45 points to Manila’s 68 in second. Gunner Shell finished third in 9:21, our fastest junior high time on the course since Jake Ward ran 9:01 in 2014. Hayden Keister finished strong in sixth in 9:31, matching Peyton Fowler’s team-leading performance the year before. Brandon Grant dropped 20 seconds off last year’s time to finish 11th, with Kaden Shaw dropping 10 seconds in 14th and Austin Scott also improving by 20 seconds in 15th. Devin Rice showed the most progress, 1:20 faster than last year in a great run to 27th place in 10:43. Eighth-grader Trey Moody was right behind, 29th in 10:47, with Jorge Cervantes 36th, Noah Chaffin 39th, Aiden Lambert 45th all within 30 seconds of Trey. Ethan Benton (11:47) and Nery Mazariegos (11:50) were just a minute back. Ian Seymore improved nearly a minute from last week, and more than a minute from last year on the same course, in a very good effort. Seventh graders Reece Looney, Andrew Wixson, Mason Evans and Dalton Friar rounded out the pack, with Andrew recording his fastest time of the season at 13:33, 95th among 138 runners.
All four junior high girls finished in the top 20 in a race full of drama. Several girls were sick at the starting line and others took tumbles along the way. The early struggles put Kaylee Clark in a strong spot right away and she fought on for third in 10:43 behind Melbourne’s pair of Kenley McCarn and Kiley Webb. Eighth-grader Maggie Walton caught a rut in the final 100 yards and lost a place but finished 11th in 11:26. Madelyn Cunningham, 18th/12:02, and Tori Roddy, 19th/12:03, finished together ahead of team champ Melbourne’s fourth and fifth runners. One more junior Pioneer might have made for a tight team contest with a field of 121.
The senior boys got to see Valley View and Greene County Tech squads, the strongest conference competition in early results. (NOTE: The 5A-East meet will be held at Crowley’s Ridge, not Joe Mack Park as listed earlier on my unofficial schedule page.) Alex Keister proved the fastest of the bunch Tuesday, ninth in 19:38. Valley View got one runner and Tech two in front of Peyton Fowler, who was 28th in 22:36. Lane Lambert, 31st in 22:59, and Tyler Mickle, 37th in 23:21, give us a stronger middle than the conference rivals. Batesville scored 160, Tech 175, and Valley View 210. Tech’s fourth and fifth scorers were well behind Tyler, and all but the first Blazer were behind as well. Aubry Shell continues to gain mileage and should be right in the mix come championship week, finishing 71st of 123 Tuesday in 25:37. Brian Briesmeister sat out with an injury.
Jillian Jones likewise sat out the senior girls race as the Pioneers got a good look at Valley View in the run-up to conference. Lauren Cowden led early on but suffered in the dusty hills, with Lexi Edwards overtaking her in the last mile to finish seventh in 24:47. Lauren was 11th of 76 runners, in 25:09. Valley View won the team title, with two runners 20 seconds ahead of Lexi and their last two scorers 30 seconds behind Lauren. Strong ninth graders moving up and a healthy Jillian are needed for the conference chase.
Next up: Salem Invitational, Tuesday, Oct. 3, Salem High School, 313 Hwy 62 East; junior high girls first at 4:30 p.m. Top 20 medals each race.
Eagles Invitational, Greers Ferry Westside, Tuesday, Sept. 19
Pioneer team leaders were up front in nearly every race at the Eagles Invitational, beginning with Gunner Shell leading most of the way in the junior high boys race and finishing a close second. Kaylee Clark followed his example with a strong run to second in the junior high girls race, missing her best ever by just 2 seconds. Jillian Jones is still running well on limited practice, finishing second in the senior high girls race, with sophomore classmate Lauren Cowden right behind in third in her best-ever 5K of 21:45.
The junior boys dominated the team race with five freshmen in the top 20, with the second place team more than double the Pioneers low score. Hayden Keister finished seventh and Brandon Grant ninth to earn medals. Our sixth and seventh runners, eighth-grader Trey Moody and freshman Aiden Lambert, placed well enough among 153 runners that the team would have been within a few points of first even without frontrunners Shell and Keister. A few of those freshmen will give the senior high team improved depth for the tough conference and state competition to come. “Veteran” freshmen Kaden Shaw, Austin Scott, and Devin Rice continue ahead of past years’ times, with even bigger improvements expected in the next couple of weeks. Recent freshmen additions Jorge Cervantes and Nery Mazariegos have their first races under their belts and are fitting right in as the miles pass. Eighth-grader Noah Chaffin again ran strongly with Moody in sight after an excellent week of practice, and Ian Seymore made a solid season debut in only his third race over two years with the Pioneers. Among the seventh graders, Mason Evans is dropping time quickly every week and Tanner Queary, Reece Looney, Ethan Benton, and Andrew Wixson are developing consistency.
The junior girls would have been in the mix for the team title with one more runner, as the four on the course finished in the front end of the pack. Maggie Walton, the eighth-grader of the bunch, finished 17th, Tori Roddy 19th and Madelyn Cunningham 23rd of 114 girls.
Cave City’s senior high boys dominated the meet with five runners in the top 20, so the Pioneers got a good look at a neighboring team in the running for a state championship in another division. Alex Keister again set the pace for the Pioneers in 10th of 85 runners. Peyton Fowler struggled through sinus issues to 28th place in 21:18 with Lane Lambert in at 22:11 and Tyler Mickle feeling the heat and humidity at 22:54. Aubry Shell, who ran briefly as a leader of the junior Pioneers in 2015, returned to the team to finish in 25:58 after only a week of practice. His times should drop every week as he gains practice time.
Jillian Jones looked a bit more like her old self, finishing strong after a bit more conservative start over the first mile. She’s still not at her best but remains competitive with the leaders and is giving Lauren Cowden a good target as they work together toward future success. Lexi Edwards keeps pushing to convert her flat-track legs into terrain strength. Bringing the ninth-graders up for conference should make for a contending team, with Kaylee Clark’s speed, Tori Roddy’s fighting spirit, and Madelyn Cunningham’s desire to improve.
Next up: Sloan-Hendrix Invitational, Tuesday, Sept. 26 at Old Davidsonville State Park, Pocahontas; junior high boys first at 4 p.m.
Heber Springs Josh Park Memorial, Tuesday, Sept. 12
The Pioneers ran well on the challenging gravel hills of the Greers Ferry Dam Site Park at the annual Heber Springs Josh Park Memorial Invitational.
The junior high boys saw 299 runners fighting to the finish, with results electronically separated into small school (1A-4A) and large (5A-7A) divisions. Batesville finished third among large schools in a battle of junior high powerhouses. Conway won with five of the first seven places in the division; Vilonia took five from sixth to 15th; Batesville took five from 13 through 20. Gunner Shell was the first Pioneer, 13th in the division and 17th overall in 12:29. Newcomer Hayden Keister continues to improve with mileage, closing fast in 14th/22nd in 12:43. Brandon Grant ran 12:52 in 16th/23rd, a 30-second personal record at the two-mile (3200 meter) distance and improving more than a minute from his time last year on the same course. Austin Scott was right behind in 12:55 (18th/25th), his best ever two-miler, with Kaden Shaw charging at 13:04 (20th/28th), also his personal record. It was a day of pack running for the 15 junior Pioneers. Eighth grader Trey Moody stepped up his chase of our lead freshmen five, making a strong two-mile debut at 37th (large schools) in 13:50. The next pack with Trey making first starts at two miles saw freshman Aiden Lambert making progress, 43rd in 14:25, just ahead of eighth grader Noah Chaffin (44th, 14:25), and seventh-graders Tanner Queary (45th, 14:30) and Reece Looney (46th, 14:32). Freshman Devin Rice followed in 14:53, his best ever at the distance by nearly a minute, and nearly two minutes better than last year on the same course. Ninth grader Jorge Cervantes, who just joined the team a week ago, kept Devin in sight to start his racing life with a solid 15:04. Seventh graders Andrew Wixson (17:46), Dalton Friar (18:40), and Mason Evans (18:52) all made gritty progress with driving finishes in their first time on a long course.
The junior Pioneer girls all have made the trip to the Josh Park Memorial before, and all showed how they’ve grown. Ninth grader Kaylee Clark took first among 101 girls in 5A-7A, fifth of 237 overall, in 13:55, 20 seconds faster than last year. Eighth grader Maggie Walton dropped 80 seconds off last year’s time to finish third/seventh in 14:12. Both earned medals and T-shirts for top 10 division finishes. Freshmen Tori Roddy, 21st in 15:49 (15:55 in 2016), and Madelyn Cunningham, 29th in 16:36 (17:07 in 2016), are gaining step by step.
Senior high boys are developing pace control and ran faster this week despite more difficult hills. Junior Alex Keister paced comfortably at the 1.5-mile turn, finishing with a charge in 18:54, within half a minute of his 5K PR and taking ninth place of 114 in large schools, 21st of 234 overall. Sophomore Peyton Fowler eased into the first mile too, enabling a solid final half-mile for 32nd in 20:31. That’s half a minute faster than last week and about 45 seconds from his PR with the meat of the season still to go. Classmate Lane Lambert gets better every week, running a strong back half of the race to grab 49th in 21:36, a 20-second improvement from Melbourne in only his third time at the distance. Senior Junior Tyler Mickle, new to cross country, learned from his overcooked start at Melbourne and made a great leap forward simply by running steady to 56th place in 21:53, an 80-second improvement in a week on a harder course. Junior Brian Briesmeister got knocked down early at a bottleneck and landed on an already-sore hip, but got up to fight through to 94th in 24:07, more than a minute faster than last year on the same course.
The senior girls race featured the smallest field, 75 in 5A-7A and 181 overall, but the competition was every bit as tough. Sophomore Lauren Cowden again pulled up on classmate Jillian Jones at the two-mile mark and made her charge on the long downhill to the flat finish for sixth/eighth in 21:55. Jillian, racing like last week on limited practice, finished ninth/11th in 22:09, faster than last year on the same course. Junior Lexi Edwards is gaining endurance and used her 800-meter speed to advantage in the closing quarter-mile to take 12th/18th in 22:55, as she continues to drop a minute a week from her 5K times.
Next up: Greers Ferry Westside Eagle Invitational, Tuesday, Sept. 19; junior high boys first at 4:30.
Melbourne Bearkatz Invitational, Tuesday, Sept. 5
The Junior Pioneer boys, loaded with veteran ninth graders, raced to their second team title in as many meets with five runners in the top 20. Newcomer Gunner Shell has jumped in front of the core of three-year returnees, finishing seventh overall. Cave City’s star freshman Luke Walling broke the Cavemen junior high record in a dominant 8:02, but the Pioneer pack was bunched just over a minute behind. Shell ran a strong 9:06, with Brandon Grant steps back at 9:10, a personal best by 25 seconds. Kaden Shaw also set a PR by 20 seconds in 15th at 9:25 with new teammate Hayden Keister right with him, 16th in 9:27. Austin Scott nursed a sore hip to finish 19th in 9:45. Eighth grader Trey Moody improves day by day, charging into 35th at 10:17, just in front of strong seventh grader Tanner Queary, 36th in 10:18. Freshman Devin Rice joined Shaw and Grant with a 40-second PR of 10:24 in 41st place. The team has numbers when the freshmen move up to senior high later in the season, with several more runners logging their first racing miles. Freshman transfer Aiden Lambert debuted in 71st place at 10:58, keeping his sights on eighth grader Noah Chaffin, who followed up Thursday’s Lyon debut by dropping a minute off his time to take 54th in 10:38. Seventh graders racing for the first time were Reece Looney in 10:51, Ethan Benton in 11:35, Dalton Friar in 13:27, and Mason Evans in 14:38. Mason fought every step of the way, pushing through a dead sprint in the last 120 yards with a determined challenger. Junior boys battled to the last man at the last step. The team’s 55 points topped Manila’s 68 for first place.
The junior girls showed signs of a bright future as well, with freshman Kaylee Clark taking fourth place for the second meet in a row, matching her PR of 10:18. Eighth grader Maggie Walton drove hard in the final straight to her PR of 10:35, while Tori Roddy dropped 30 seconds off her time at the same meet last year, running 11:12. Ninth grader Madelyn Cunningham topped last year’s time as well in 12:05. Without a fifth, the girls did not have a team score.
The senior boys are working their way into shape, with junior Alex Keister running a controlled race moving up through the pack throughout to finish seventh in 19:03, within sight of his best races from late 2016. Sophomore Peyton Fowler dug down for a sprint finish in 20:56, while classmate Lane Lambert dropped two minutes off his time from Thursday’s Lyon meet, down to 21:56 on the Bearkatz dry mowed lanes and dusty woodland trails. Junior Brian Briesmeister wrestled with some of the illness going around but also dropped two minutes off his Lyon time at 22:44. Senior Tyler Mickle ran his first cross country race in a steady 23:15, persevering without many miles yet under his belt. The team was mid-pack in seventh place.
The senior girls are few but formidable, though dealing cautiously with nagging hurts. Sophomores Lauren Cowden and Jillian Jones went 1-2, with Cowden winning for the first time in her PR of 21:53, nearly two minutes faster than her previous best in the 2016 state championship. Defending state champ Jones set the pace for 2 1/2 miles but days off resting a sore hip cost her some endurance on her way to a 22:17 finish. Junior Lexi Edwards, the state track 800 meter titlist in her first weeks of cross country, has been tending nagging pains, too, but pushed through in 23:47. It’s a strong group if health and ninth grade reinforcements come around at season’s end.
Next up: The Josh Park Memorial at Heber Springs, Tuesday, Sept. 12; junior high 2 miles, junior high boys first at 4:30.
Lyon College Cross Country Invitational, Thursday, Aug. 31
Lyon College welcomed cross country competition back in a big way with the Batesville Pioneers among nearly 400 runners taking part in seven races at the Lyon College Invitational for college, high school and junior high teams as well as local club runners.
Scots Coach Adam Trausch put on the meet, reintroducing 18 high schools and three other colleges to the program suspended seven years ago.
In the senior high boys race, junior Alex Keister was the top Pioneer in eighth place in 20:34.9 on the challenging twice-around 5K course. Sophomore Peyton Fowler made new Coach Stan Fowler proud turning in a solid 21:35.5 for 20th place. Classmate Lane Lambert made his senior high debut in 24:02.3 on the rolling hills, smack in the middle of the field in 55th of 109 runners. Junior Brian Briesmeister was in 67th at 24:51.6. The Pioneers were one short of the five runners needed for a team score. Senior Tyler Mickle was held out of the first race as a newcomer building his early miles.
The Lady Pioneers also are shorthanded (footed?) to start the season, with returning state champion Jillian Jones nursing an injury and sophomore classmate Lauren Cowden and junior Lexi Edwards the only other upperclass runners. Edwards, state 800-meter champ in track running her first cross country season, finished seventh out of 56 in 24:56.2 with Cowden right behind in 24:58.3. A strong freshman group should move up late in the season for conference and state championships.
The Junior Pioneer boys had no shortage of manpower, dominating the team results with five freshmen in the top 14 of 106 runners, led by newcomer Gunner Shell in fifth at 10:11.9. Top returnees Brandon Grant (eighth, 10:23.7) and Austin Scott (ninth, 10:24.6) also earned top 10 medals on the one-lap, 1.6-mile route over campus meadows and woodland trails. Newcomer Hayden Keister, Alex’s brother, came in 11th in 10:38.1 in his first Pioneer race. Steady Kaden Shaw was seconds behind in 14th at 10:45.1. The team’s 35 points easily outdid Crowley’s Ridge Academy, second with 70. Behind the strong core of freshmen come a growing group of young guns, with Tanner Queary the first seventh grader overall in an excellent debut at 11:11.6 in 21st place. Eighth grader Lackey Moody III, “Trey,” also fared well in his first race on land instead of the swimming pool, 39th in 11:36.9. Eighth grader Noah Chaffin made his first race a good one as well, 41st in 11:52.9. Returning freshman Devin Rice rounded out the squad in 45th at 12:01.3. As with the senior boys, several seventh and eighth graders were held out of this meet to get a few more miles under their belts before their first race.
The junior girls ran last but certainly not least as freshman Kaylee Clark (fourth, 11:23.5) and eighth grader Maggie Walton (seventh, 11:53.1) grabbed top 10 medals in the field of 69 competitors. Returning freshmen Tori Roddy (16th, 12:27.3) and Madelyn Cunningham (21st, 12:47.8) are doing solid groundwork getting ready to move up to senior high later in the season. The ladies were one runner short for a team score, with Bailey Roddy still building beginner’s mileage.
Next up: The Bearkatz Invitational at Melbourne, Tuesday, Sept. 5.