Pioneer Invitational at Sulphur Rock, Sept. 15
The Batesville Pioneers started this strange 2020 cross-country season in familiar fashion, winning their home invitational at Sulphur Rock for the fourth consecutive time.
Senior Brandon Grant defended his individual title with a strong run from the front in 18:20 over the flat and fast 5K course, 90 seconds ahead of the field. That was also half a minute faster than his 2019 victory and just a few seconds off his fastest ever.
Senior teammate Gunner Shell, the 2018 champion here, took the early lead to the half-mile mark and held on for fourth place in 20:37. With juniors Trey Moody and Noah Chaffin unavailable, senior Devin Rice stepped up to take an individual medal in 12th place, better than his other career medal here at 15th in 2019.
Senior Kaden Shaw and sophomore Tanner Queary finished seconds apart in 20th and 21st to complete the scoring five for the champions, with runner-up Sloan-Hendrix the only other school to land four runners in the top 20. 5A-East District rivals Paragould and Greene County Tech finished fourth and fifth.
Recruits from the swim team made strong debuts, as sophomore Daniel Latus finished 26th in 24:07 and junior Nathan Hernandez followed in 37th. Sophomore Andrew Wixson finished 39th and junior Jacob Dorris 45th.
The senior girls were one runner short of a scoring team of five, but still claimed three individual medals in the top 15. Senior Tori Roddy showed the way with a steady 25:05 in sixth place for the second year in a row. Mountain View junior Chaelanne Vickers ran alone in the heat and humidity to win in 23:29, almost a minute ahead of sophomore Ava Lewis and senior Ashlyn Billingsley of team champions Izard County Consolidated.
Other medalists for the Lady Pioneers were home-school swim recruit Kate Gunter and veteran returnee Maggie Walton. Gunter, a sophomore, held up well in her well-paced debut, taking 12th in 27:00. Walton, a junior, also medaled for the second straight year, 14th in a bit off her 10th place finish in 2019. Senior Madelyn Cunningham finished 21st. District rivals Paragould claimed the runner-up team trophy, led by senior Alennea Smallie in 17th. Greene County Tech had only three finishers, with junior Hayley Russell a solid fourth in 24:44.
The junior Pioneers claimed three individual medals for a solid third-place. District rival Jonesboro landed all five scorers in the top 20 for the team title. Melbourne eighth-grader Shawn Wortham powered away to the individual championship in 9:07, leading the Bearkatz to second place.
Pioneer eighth grader Grant McDonald took seventh place in 9:37, 90 seconds faster than his 2019 personal best, with classmate Isaac Wehrung 12th in 9:54, a minute faster than his previous best. Another swim recruit, freshman Ethan Byler, impressed in his first outing, 14th in 10:01 over the 1.5 miles. Newcomer Ryan Barber, an eighth-grader cross-training with basketball, did well in his first race, 21st in 10:47. Freshman Alexander Tenace, who has practiced with the team in past years and run distance in track, finished 33rd in 11:18. Seventh-grade beginner Sam Smith worked hard to the finish in his first race on light practice after joining the team weeks into the season’s workouts.
Melbourne and Jonesboro traded places in the junior girls race, with the Lady Bearkatz winning 60-71, with Greene County Tech a close third at 74 points. Freshman Ellie Akins gave Mountain View both girls’ individual winners, running 10:34 to finish ahead of Tech seventh-grader Sophia Gonzalez in 11:00.
Batesville seventh-grader Claire Brooks finished mid-pack in her first race, 35th in 13:42. Veteran ninth-grader Kinley Dorris finished 62nd with newcomer classmate Tamera Deutsch persevering in her first time at the distance in 64th.
Next up: Salem Invitational, Sept. 22, Junior high girls first at 4:30