4A-3 Championship, Thursday, Oct. 25
Rain and wind and weather just make Pioneers better. The Batesville senior boys won a district championship for the
sixth fifth straight year with five in the top 10 and seven in the top 15 on their home course at Sulphur Rock. The senior girls placed three in the top 10 to claim second place in the 4A Region 3 championship as Valley View provided the challenge for both squads. (Click for results at macsrts.)
The boys put the pedal to the metal against the Blazers, who just the week before had placed four runners in front of the second Pioneer to take team second behind Jonesboro at their own Valley View Invitational.
The Pioneers turned the tables Tuesday in the steady rain on soggy turf as Gunner Shell ran away from the field after the halfway mark, finishing first in 17:55, his first time under 18:00. The Blazers and Pioneers alternated finishers through ninth place and then Batesville’s depth took hold as three more Pioneers crossed before the Blazers’ fifth. All sped to PRs: Brandon Grant working his way forward to third in 18:27.30, Peyton Fowler fighting for fifth in 18:48.90, Quentin Mousnier seventh in 19:00.43, Austin Scott ninth in 19:12.72, Lane Lambert 13th in 19:47.27 (first time under 20:00), Kaden Shaw running up front early and holding on for 15th in 19:49.86 (also first time under 20:00), and Jorge Cervantes 17th in 20:09.17. Fowler, Mousnier and Lambert are juniors and the others sophomores, so there’s a powerful pack for days to come. Speaking of the future, freshmen Noah Chaffin, 22nd in 20:32.21, and Trey Moody, 23rd in 20:34.04, made strong bids for roster spots for the state championships next week at Oaklawn in Hot Springs. Trey dropped a minute from his PR in just his third race at senior distance while Noah was just a few seconds slower than his PR last week at Valley View. Senior Cody Tosh charged right along with them in 24th at 20:36, more than a minute faster than his previous best.
Junior Lopez, 27th in 21:45.81, kept sophomore classmate Devin Rice company on the way to his PR by a minute in 28th at 21:46.80. Senior Brian Briesmeister finished 30th in his fourth-fastest ever at 22:01.56, his best run since the state championship two years ago at Oaklawn. Pioneers finish in bunches, and chasing Brian were sophomores Axel Salinas (32nd, 22:26.50, a 1:20 PR), Nery Mazariegos (33rd, 22:28.82, a 1:00 PR and first time under 24:00 this year) and Aiden Lambert (34th, 22:49.85). Classmates Dani Ramos-Alvares (37th in 23:46.96, a 1:15 PR) and Gio Cruz (40th in 24:02.80, also a PR) showed continued improvement in their first season, as Dyllan Seale kept at it for 39:54.28.
The girls also came up short against the Blazers last week, with all five Valley View scorers ahead of the third Lady Pioneer there. The Pioneers changed the script Tuesday. Junior Lauren Cowden battled Blazer freshman Sophey Pope step for step in a state top 10 preview, dropping 20 seconds off her best to get under 21:00 for the first time and earn second place in 20:48. Classmate Reese Gardner stayed ahead of Valley View challengers to grab third in a 30-second PR at 21:21. Freshman Maggie Walton made an impressive senior debut, breaking into the Blazer pack to fetch eighth in 22:35 and bring the Pioneers close for the team title. Sophomore Kaylee Clark ran her season’s best at 23:12 in 11th, but is still fighting back to her stellar freshman times after missing the first few weeks while recovering from surgery. Sophomores Madelyn Cunningham (14th, PR of 23:56.31) and Tori Roddy (15th, PR of 24:02.87) gave this group a faster average time than last year’s bunch that finished third at the 5A state championships. (That group was just ahead of Valley View.) Lady Pioneers and Blazers should have another battle up front at this year’s 4A championships next week. Junior Sherlyn Orantes adds depth, locking in and topping her big PR last week by a fraction in 17th at 24:30.
The junior girls are in need of a little more company, as freshmen Brett Gardner and Maggie Walton moved up in the past few weeks, leaving only seventh-graders Kinley Dorris and Destiny Montalbo on the short circuit. Kinley grabbed a medal in the combined boys/girls junior high race, ninth among the girls in her PR of 12:57, first time under 13:00. Destiny ran within seconds of her PR, just missing a medal in 12th at 13:25, but still 1:30 faster than she ran on the same course six weeks ago.
Depth is the name of the game for junior boys as it is with the seniors, with seven more Pioneers crowding the young field. Seventh-grader Kade Barber set a PR in a strong fifth-place finish at 10:37.25, with eighth-grader Andrew Wixson next in sixth at 11:03.88 and freshman Jacob Dorris seventh at 11:10.15. Freshman Matthew Fretwell also pushed to a PR in 10th at 11:21.97, while seventh-grader Aden Sherrell shaved a minute off his best in 14th at 12:09.33. Eighth-grader Mason Evans missed his best by just 20 seconds in 15th at 12:45.42 and Michael Bandy worked all the way for 24:37.77.
NEXT UP: State championship, Friday, Nov. 2, Oaklawn Race Track, senior high only, boys 2 p.m., girls 2:30.
Valley View Invitational, Tuesday, Oct. 16
Cool weather and hot times are piling up as the Pioneers wind down their season, with only the district and state championships remaining. Rivals are gathering strength as well, with host and district rival Valley View edging the senior high boys and girls at Joe Mack Campbell Park on Tuesday, Oct. 16. (Click for official results at ar.milesplit.)
Gunner Shell shaved four-tenths of a second off his PR from the weekend at Oaklawn, and also was a fraction of a second behind Valley View’s frontrunner. Gunner was fifth of 103 overall in 18:19. Three more Valley View runners ran mid-18:00 times to finish ahead of Austin Scott, 21st in 19:25, his best ever by a minute. Juniors Quentin Mousnier and Peyton Fowler kept pace in 23rd and 24th at 19:31 and 19:34. Mousnier beat his best by three seconds on the flat sports complex course. The Pioneer depth again showed through with Kaden Shaw (35th, 20:17), Lane Lambert (38th, 20:28), freshman Noah Chaffin (39th, 20:28, a minute faster than his debut a week earlier), and Jorge Cervantes (40th, in a 20-second PR at 20:30) finishing in a bunch. Hayden Keister (41st, 20:54) and Junior Lopez (47th, 21:20) also beat Valley View’s fifth scorer, but their four frontrunners gave the Blazers the edge at 58 points to 78 for the third-place Pioneers. Jonesboro won the team title. Senior Cody Tosh (61st, 22:41) ran well with Aiden Lambert passing a pack late to claim 65th in a season’s best by a minute at 23:13. Freshman Trey Moody ran strongly in our fifth position through two miles before suffering abdominal cramps to drop to 67th in 23:18, days after his senior high debut in 21:30 at Oaklawn. Axel Salinas (80th, 24:16), Nery Mazariegos (82nd, 24:23) and Dani Alvares (88th, 25:22) worked hard in the cold, and Dyllan Seale chopped four minutes off his previous times at 39:21.
The Blazers will present a tough challenge at district at Sulphur Rock, though the Pioneers figure to have Brandon Grant back as the second scorer. They’ll need best days from a few to chase Valley View’s frontrunners, and some help from elsewhere to fill places before the Blazers’ fifth scorer.
The Valley View girls are comparatively stronger than the boys, placing five runners before the Pioneer third Tuesday. Jonesboro again won the team title, with Valley View second at 49 points and Batesville third at 92. Lauren Cowden finished fourth of 75, a few seconds behind Valley View’s freshman Sophey Pope, who has been just in front of her all season. Cowden’s 21:06 took half a second off her PR at Oaklawn over the weekend. Junior Reese Gardner followed three Blazers on her way to 13th in 22:04, while sophomore Kaylee Clark is still shedding seconds at 23:34 in 21st. Classmate Madelyn Cunningham slashed a minute off her best in a strong steady run with a fast finish for 27th right at 24:00. Junior Sherlyn Orantes stayed strong in the middle mile to chop 1:45 off her fastest ever to grab 32nd in 24:31. Tori Roddy ran a season’s best 25:36 in 36th and Morgan Fryer finished seconds off her best in 54th at 29:12. With freshman Brett Gardner available, the team will have six runners under 24:30 (plus another who ran that at state in 2017), which is the benchmark for contenders at state. A few teams have frontrunners like Valley View’s, but the ladies look to challenge for a top five spot with a couple all-state candidates.
The junior girls raced first on the day, going an unusual longer two-mile distance. Maggie Walton finished 17th among 79, dropping a shoe in the final straight on her way to 15:28. Seventh-graders Destiny Montalbo (45th, 17:34) and Kinley Dorris (48th, 17:46) ran steady mile splits in the chill weather.
The junior boys likewise ran evenly paced miles for strong finishes, with personal bests at the longer distance for all who have run it before. Tanner Queary and Kade Barber hung together throughout, with Tanner picking up a couple of places in the final straight for 19th in his PR of 13:33. Kade finished 21st of 92 in 13:38, the seventh-grader’s first time at the distance. Freshman Matthew Fretwell ran 14:23 for 34th as he prepares to move up for district. Running in a pack all the way with Fretwell were Andrew Wixson, 36th in 14:29 (a three-minute PR), and Jacob Dorris, 37th in 14:30. Dorris will also move up next week for district. Aden Sherrell, 69th in 16:58, and Mason Evans, 71st in 17:06, dressed warm and ran hard in the cold. Mason’s run was nearly two minutes better than his times last year at the distance. The team finished fifth of 10, one point behind Crowley’s Ridge, though the five Pioneer scorers averaged a faster time.
All ninth graders will run with the senior high at district Thursday, Oct. 25, at Sulphur Rock. Valley View comes in with strength and it will take best performances all around to beat them.
NEXT UP: District championship, Thursday, Oct. 25, Sulphur Rock. State championship, Friday, Nov. 2, Oaklawn Race Track, senior boys 2 p.m., girls 2:30.
Lake Hamilton Invitational, Saturday, Oct. 13
A fast track and a gray day made for golden times Saturday at Oaklawn for the Pioneer senior high cross country teams. Seven runners sped to career bests, two missed theirs by less than 10 seconds, and one freshman was running the distance for the first time with the team.
Gunner Shell dropped more than half a minute from his previous best, running a well-paced race with splits at 1 mile, 2 miles and 3.1 miles of 5:45, 6:00 and 6:35 for 18:20. Peyton Fowler likewise ran steadily at 6:01, 6:18 and 6:58 for 19:17. Kaden Shaw dropped 20 seconds off his PR, set on this same course at the 2017 state championship. Austin Scott at 20:30 continues to rebuild his late endurance and closed within seconds of his best last year. Junior Lopez ran nearly dead-even splits at 6:37, 6:46 and 7:40 to take 2:30 off his best in 21:04. Freshman Trey Moody stepped up to senior high for the first time with a strong 21:30. He and classmate Noah Chaffin (21:21 in his debut last week) add to this squad’s impressive depth, with eight runners separated by seconds making it hard for coaches to choose four who will join our fastest five to fill out the roster of nine for state. Sophomores Axel Salinas (24:00) and Gio Cruz (24:44) made it look easier in just their third races. Gio dropped two minutes off his best.
The senior girls were short of a scoring team, but juniors Lauren Cowden (21:06) and Reese Gardner (21:57) sped to personal bests. Sophomores Kaylee Clark (23:55) and Madelyn Cunningham (24:59, seconds off her PR) finished strong in the steady rain, passing plenty of rivals in the final straight. Steady was the theme for the girls as Lauren and Reese went through the first mile at 6:45 on their way to 6:48 and 7:05 pace overall. Kaylee ran 7:30 for the first and averaged 7:43, while Madelyn hit 7:40/8:04.
Looking ahead, few girls teams in 4A have five runners under 25:00, so the return visit to Oaklawn in November with a full squad for state should be interesting. Likewise, the boys now have a first five averaging under 20:00, with four more clustered at 20:30 and another four around 21:20. The state championship will be decided by a few seconds and hotly contested places. One or two 4A teams average around 19:00 and six or seven squads contend in that 19:30-20:00 range, so every place won at the finish will matter. Depth is good.
NEXT UP: Valley View Invitational at Joe Mack Campbell Park, Jonesboro, Tuesday, Oct. 16. Junior girls race at 4 pm, boys at 4:25, Senior girls at 4:50, boys at 5:20.
Bald Knob Invitational, Tuesday, Oct. 9
Cooler weather brought out the best in Pioneer senior girls despite a challenging course at the Bald Knob Invitational.
Reese Gardner led the way in her best-ever 22:41 for fifth place out of 112 finishers. Lauren Cowden ran most of the way with Reese and held on for ninth in 23:06, a little off her usual pace. Sophomore Kaylee Clark is rounding back into peak form, dropping 2:30 from the week before, in 16th at 23:53. Freshman Brett Gardner also made a big 2:10 leap in just her second senior run, fighting in to 19th at 24:12, but was nursing a troubled knee at the finish. Madelyn Cunningham finished 29th in 25:11, with that top five group showing a strong average time that could contend for state honors. The team finished fourth with district rival and state contender Valley View 10 points ahead in second. Valley View hosts its own invitational next Tuesday (Oct. 16) so the teams will see each other again and again, with the district championship at Sulphur Rock on Oct. 25 and state at Oaklawn on Nov. 2. If Brett’s knee sidelines her, the Pioneers will count on Sherlyn Orantes (38th in 26:15) and Tori Roddy (43rd in 26:26) to push forward. Both ran their season bests over the steep hills of the country club. Tori has a best time of 24:21 at Oaklawn last year, so her continued recovery keeps the ladies in the mix for titles. Morgan Fryer also ran her PR at 29:06 for 70th place.
Senior boys added even more depth with freshman Noah Chaffin moving up with a strong debut as our sixth man, 53rd out of 137 in 21:21. Gunner Shell ran his best time outside the flat, fast Sulphur Rock home course, in 17th place at 19:22. Sophomore classmate Brandon Grant also ran his best except for Sulphur Rock, in 24th at 19:48. Quentin Mousnier (30th, 20:14), Peyton Fowler (36th, 20:26) and Kaden Shaw (46th, 20:51) rounded out the scoring five. The team took fourth place behind powerhouse Cave City (four of the top five individuals), 7A North Little Rock and 5A El Dorado. The team’s 20:08 average time is a solid time for state competition, with two strong 4A teams already under 19:30 and several others right in the 20:00 range.
The Pioneers are blessed with depth, as another four or five are not far behind Noah, and freshmen classmate Trey Moody also moving up next race (this Saturday, Oct. 13 on the Oaklawn course) to join in the run for the nine spots traveling to Oaklawn for state.
Austin Scott finished seconds behind Noah, 54th in 21:22, with Jorge Cervantes (56th, 21:25), Lane Lambert (58th, 21:39), Cody Tosh (60th, 21:40, his personal best) and Hayden Keister (62nd, 21:48) packed in tight behind. Soccer buddies Junior Lopez and Axel Salinas also ran their best yet, 89th in 23:33 and 91st in 23:45. Axel dropped more than four minutes off his debut the week before. Brian Briesmeister (106th in 24:48), Dani Alvares (109th in 24:59, his best by a minute), Gio Cruz (126th in 26:54) and Dyllan Seale (43:16) put in good work.
The junior high race covered an odd distance of 1.8 miles, so times represent an extra quarter mile from the usual 1.55 mile/2.5K. Maggie Walton gritted out painful ankles and losing both shoes (despite heel-lock lacing) to manage 35th in 14:31. Seventh-grader Destiny Montalbo ran her longest race in a good 16:11 for 63rd, right in the middle of 123 finishers. Classmate Kinley Dorris worked in for 79th in 17:22. Given the extra distance, that’s an improvement for the seventh-graders over the past couple of weeks.
Trey Moody took the front spot for junior boys with Noah Chaffin moved up, and earned the medal for 15th in 11:50, which would be a low 10-minute run at the usual distance. Eighth-grader Tanner Queary battled a pack at the finish to grab 24th in 12:15 with seventh-grader Kade Barber likewise fighting it out for 39th in 12:48. Andrew Wixson (73rd, 14:10), Aden Sherrell (79th, 14:10), and Jacob Dorris (80th, 14:11) worked together throughout at improved pace despite the longer course and difficult hills. Mason Evans, 15:23, also moved well through the pack of 134 in perhaps his strongest race so far. The team finished sixth out of 15.
NEXT UP: Senior high travels Saturday (Oct. 13) to Oaklawn for the Lake Hamilton Invitational. Senior boys run at 10:30 a.m., girls at 11. The Valley View Invitational at Joe Mack Campbell Park is Tuesday, Oct. 16. Junior girls start at 4 p.m., boys 4:25, senior girls 4:50, senior boys 5:20.
Cavemen Open, Tuesday, Oct. 2
Heat and hills in the woods gave the Pioneers a challenge at the Cavemen Open. Times were a bit slower than usual here and there but a few spirited fighters emerged faster than on the hills of Old Davidsonville the previous week.
Lauren Cowden ran a smart race, using her closing strength to pull in the early frontrunners for a strong fourth-place finish at 22:49 in senior girls. Reese Gardner gets better each week, and stuck with Lauren in a steady mile to the difficult climbs. She fought through the last mile ahead of district rivals from Valley View for an excellent 13th place in 24:14. Sister Brett Gardner, a freshman, moved up throughout in her senior girls debut, taking 34th place among 116 finishers, in 26:24. Kaylee Clark continues her comeback and provided a pace target for Brett, fighting through pain for 36th in 26:40. Madelyn Cunningham had her teammates in sight in 42nd at 27:03 and consistent Sherlyn Orantes followed in 49th at 27:51. Tori Roddy, 61st in 29:13, and Morgan Fryer, 71st in 31:21, worked hard in the heat.
Valley View took third with 92 points and Batesville fourth with 119. A healthy Kaylee Clark and more experienced Brett Gardner should make for a tight battle at district.
The senior boys presented a familiar look with Gunner Shell leading the way in 18th at 20:38 and his teammates rolling by in bunches. Quentin Mousnier closed hard in 34th, 21:21, with Brandon Grant (37th, 21:25), Austin Scott (38th, 21:26), Peyton Fowler (39th, 21:29), Jorge Cervantes (44th, 21:57), and Kaden Shaw (45th, 22:00) packed in close. Scott provided the early and steady pace for the group with the others surging and conserving over different terrain. Hayden Keister (50th, 22:26) and Lane Lambert (57th, 22:55) battled in the middle of the 144 finishers, followed by our soccer transplants: Devin Rice (75th, 24:33), Junior Lopez (81st, 24:55), Cody Tosh (86th, 25:16), and Nery Mazariegos (92nd, 25:41). Brian Briesmeister finished 95th in 25:50, Aiden Lambert 116th in 27:15, and newcomer Axel Salinas 124th in 28:12 his first time out. The team finished fourth behind host (and 2017 state 4A champs) Cave City, 5A Mountain Home, and 2A Quitman. Pioneer strength is in mid-pack, with one or two working their way to top 20 finishes. They’ll have a tough task to move forward much in the next few weeks, but there’s a very strong base for a grand 2019.
Junior girls struggled with sore ankles and a small squad. Preseason leader Maggie Walton battled ankle pain in 12:48 to grab a top 30 meet T-shirt at 29th out of 156. Kinley Dorris ran a good first mile on her way to 78th in 14:49 and Destiny Montalbo pushed through on a sore foot to 88th in 15:34.
The junior boys took their cue from Noah Chaffin, 15th in a respectable 9:52 on the difficult course. Freshman classmate Trey Moody drove hard to the finish in 10:54, 49th of 170, with eighth-grader Tanner Queary just behind, 53rd in 11:02. Seventh-grader Kade Barber and freshmen Matthew Fretwell worked together to 66th and 67th in 11:29. Fretwell ran well in his first race back with the team since 2016, beating his best time from his younger days. Andrew Wixson ran 11:55 for 81st, Aden Sherrell clocked 13:11 for 118th with Jacob Dorris just behind at 120th in 13:14. Mason Evans charged past rivals in the closing straight for 129th in 13:44. Michael Bandy wouldn’t give up and made it all the way around in 24:52.
Next up: Bald Knob Invitational at Bald Knob Country Club, first race at 4 p.m. with rolling starts after.
Salem Invitational, Tuesday, Sept. 18
Summer heat returned and the junior Pioneer boys especially turned up the heat themselves at the Salem Cross Country Invitational, with PRs aplenty. The senior boys, with five in the top 20, look to have finished second with official results yet to be online.
The junior girls started things off with Maggie Walton and Brett Gardner running strong at the front of the pack with medal finishes. Both dropped a minute from their times a week earlier, on a more difficult course and in much more oppressive heat and humidity. Maggie ran 10:38, within a few seconds of her best ever, and Brett closed fast behind in 10:44. Both freshmen will build mileage in the coming weeks and add team depth for senior high conference and state championships. Seventh-grader Destiny Montalbo proved quite a fighter, pushing hard all the way in only her third race. She improves by leaps and bounds, dropping nearly two minutes from her time at our own Pioneer Invitational the week before. Kinley Dorris ran 13:53, holding steady week to week.
Eight junior boys finished and all had PRs or close enough: Trey Moody was unofficially less than a second off his best. Freshman Noah Chaffin ran in the front 10 throughout on his way to a 9:17 finish, and eighth-grader Tanner Queary passed many in the pack in a strong last half mile to earn a medal in 9:45, his first time under 10:00. Trey finished in 10:18 and fellow freshman Jacob Dorris ran his best in 10:53, first time under 11:00. Eight-grader Andrew Wixson also dropped under 11:00 for the first time at 10:50 in another strong back half mile. Seventh-grader Kade Barber beat his best by 30 seconds, sprinting across the line at 10:42. Eighth-grader Ethan Benton, who missed the first several weeks of practice, is rounding into shape, taking 30 seconds off his best from last year, finishing right on 11:00. Classmate Mason Evans gets better and better, under 13:00 for the first time at 12:20.
The senior girls fought through the unfavorable heat, with Lauren Cowden in the top five throughout, finishing fourth in 21:39, just a bit slower than her PR last week at the Pioneer Invitational. Senior Reese Gardner is keeping Lauren in her sights, moving up bit by bit in the front pack of racers as well. She brought home a medal in 23:01, seconds off her PR the week before. Sophomore Madelyn Cunningham pushed through some distress to finish hard in 25:39 and classmate Tori Roddy holds steady in her comeback from a layoff at 28:16. Junior Sherlynn Orantes rolls along at a good pace, rising through the pack as others fade. She ran 26:47, within a second of her debut at the friendlier Sulphur Rock course last week. Sophomore Morgan Fryer had energy for a sprint finish for 31:02.
The senior boys had only one PR, but showed again their great depth and group competitive spirit. Sophomore Jorge Cervantes ran 30 seconds faster than ever before, going under 21:00 for the first time at 20:48. Most of that gain came in the last mile as he sped by runner after runner fading in the heat. The boys had eight runners at 21:00 or faster, with Austin Scott not far behind at 21:25 in only a couple of weeks back from injury leave. Gunner Shell led the way in 20:03 with Brandon Grant and Quentin Mousnier closing fast in 20:12 and 20:13. Junior Peyton Fowler chased the sophomores in 20:21 with classmate Lane Lambert charging home in 20:30, 12 seconds from his best ever. Sophomore Kaden Shaw started aggressively in the top five through the first mile well under six minutes, then held on for a near-best of 20:36. Hayden Keister is working back to form at 21:00, as is Aiden Lambert at 24:42. Sophomore Devin Rice looks better each week passing through the pack at 23:13. Devin and senior Cody Tosh at 23:52 lead our other soccer imports: sophomores Junior Lopez (24:05), Nery Mazariegos (24:14), and Dani Ramos-Alvarez (27:18). Senior Brian Briesmeister dug to the line in 24:19, and sophomore Dyllan Seale went the distance for the first time in 43:38.
Next up: Sloan-Hendrix Invitational at Old Davidsonville Park, junior boys at 4 p.m.
Pioneer Invitational, Tuesday, Sept. 11
A fast home course and cooler weather proved a winning combination for the senior high boys and girls as both claimed team titles Tuesday at the return of the Pioneer Invitational at Sulphur Rock.
The course is grass lane on the magnet elementary school campus, with a few gentle rises, a mound or ditch here or there, and no steep climbs. Temperatures in the 70s with a bit of a breeze instead of 90s and high humidity brought out the best in many Pioneers. A dozen of the 36 finishers ran their fastest ever and 16 earned individual medals in the Top 15 in their race.
The junior boys raced first and Trey Moody and Noah Chaffin led the first half mile. Noah stayed strong for fourth place in his new best of 9:54. Trey, just back from a week out, hung on for a medal in 14th place, seconds off his best time last year. Eighth-grader Tanner Queary pushed past Trey in the home stretch for 12th in 10:13. Seventh-grader Kade Barber keeps dropping seconds, finishing in his best 11:15, with eighth-grader Andrew Wixson right behind in his best 11:20 to round out our scoring five. Jacob Dorris fought hard at the finish for 11:36, his best. Eighth-grader Ethan Benton returned to the squad with a 12:24, and Aden Sherrell dropped two minutes from last week in 13:12 with Alexandre Tenace (13:23) and Mason Evans (13:27) not far back.
Freshmen Maggie Walton and Brett Gardner ran near the front in junior girls, with Maggie clinging to fourth in 11:28. Brett worked her way to eighth in 11:40 in a strong debut after only a couple of practices. Seventh-grader Kinley Dorris did her best in 13:40, with classmate Chloe Miller making a solid start after only a few days practice in 14:45 and Destiny Montalbo dropping 40 seconds from the previous week in 14:56.
Senior boys went right to the front in a bunch and stayed there, with seven earning Top 15 medals and eight setting PRs. Gunner Shell and Peyton Fowler ran together through the first mile with Quentin Mousnier and Brandon Grant a few yards behind, and Lane Lambert and Hayden Keister also in the neighborhood. Gunner ran to the front in the final quarter-mile to win in his best 18:59, a week after having to stop in distress at hot, humid Melbourne. Sophomore classmate Brandon Grant ran an excellent second loop, chasing down the leaders to grab third in his new best of 19:07. Exchange student Mousnier held steady for fourth in his best 19:34, with junior Fowler also claiming a PR at 19:42 in fifth. Keister (20:37, 12th), Lambert (20:38, 13th), and Kaden Shaw (20:49, 15th) formed a nice second pack that shows this squad’s strength in numbers. Jorge Cervantes (21:17) and senior Cody Tosh (21:45) hit PRs, as did sophomores Devin Rice (22:49) and Junior Lopez (23:55). Austin Scott returned on limited practice with a solid 22:45. Senior Brian Briesmeister worked home in 23:49, with Aiden Lambert (24:14) and Nery Mazariegos (24:39) continuing to improve. Dani Ramos-Alvarez keeps building his soccer endurance at 26:31.
Senior girls grabbed their share of the glory, as they also brought home four Top 15 medals and registered three PRs with five finishers. Junior leader Lauren Cowden took over the race early — and outlasted the battery on the guide UTV — cruising to the win in a one-minute PR at 21:16. Athletic senior Reese Gardner fought hard into third place, continuing to drop a minute from her time every week at 22:55. Sophomore Madelyn Cunningham finished 10th in her PR of 24:51. Junior Sherlyn Orantes has made her way back to the team from the soccer fields and scored a medal in her debut, a respectable 26:46 for 13th place. Sophomore Morgan Fryer fared much better than in last week’s heat, coming in at 29:32. Sophomore Kaylee Clark, just back from leave, ran a strong first mile but backed off to DNF, still needing some mending time. Sophomore Tori Roddy sat out with a sore knee. With ninth graders Maggie Walton and Brett Gardner eligible to move up later in the season, the girls look good for district and state.
The senior boys have great depth, able to put seven or eight around the fourth or fifth of most teams. They’re working hard to get two or three closer to the leaders of 4A come November.
Next up: Salem Invitational, Sept. 18, Junior girls at 4:30.
Melbourne Bearkatz Invitational, Tuesday, Sept. 4
The Pioneers showed the promise and the challenge Tuesday at Melbourne, with the senior girls again taking third place and the senior boys finishing fifth. Both teams were missing top runners as Kaylee Clark continues recovery and Gunner Shell came up ill.
Lauren Cowden led the girls, taking second in 23:16, and senior transfer Reese Gardner gets better every time out, finishing seventh in a strong 24:00. Sophomore Madelyn Cunningham fought the heat to finish 18th in 26:37 and classmate Tori Roddy (29th) dropped 30 seconds from her time last week at Lyon as she makes her way back from illness. Classmate Morgan Fryer rounded out the squad in 62nd place. The team score was 8 points behind Mountain Home and 16 behind champion Quitman. Clark’s return will nudge the team forward, but all have some work to do to get to last year’s personal bests.
For the boys, junior exchange student Quentin Mousnier stepped to the front with Shell out, finishing 15th in 21:08. Classmate Peyton Fowler was right on his heels at 21:17, with sophomores Kaden Shaw (21:29) and Brandon Grant (21:51) staying close. With Shell, that’s a strong first five, though they’ll need to push down near 19:00 as they move toward state. Sophomore Hayden Keister (37th, 23:08) and junior Lane Lambert (45th, 23:59) should work their way into the group as they log mileage. Senior Brian Briesmeister (58th, 25:11) works hard with a group of soccer players getting in some conditioning: Junior Lopez (24:53), Devin Rice (24:54), Cody Tosh (25:31), Jorge Cervantes (26:01), Dani Ramos-Alvares (26:01) and Nery Mazariegos (26:03). Tosh is a senior and the others are sophomores.
The junior boys saw some tough competition, as freshman Noah Chaffin finished 17th in 10:10 with eighth-grader Tanner Queary right with him in 18th at 10:13. Both were within seconds of their best times from last year, as was Andrew Wixson at 12:20. Freshman Trey Moody returned from illness to finish in 12:02 and should be up with Chaffin and Queary as he rounds back into shape. Eighth-grader Mason Evans proves his hard work pays off as he set his PR with a solid 13:03. Newcomers Kade Barber (seventh grade, 11:21), Jacob Dorris (freshman, 11:51), and Alexandre Tenace (seventh grade, 13:02) each dropped half a minute from their debuts at Lyon. Seventh grader Aden Sherrell ran a gritty 15:30 in his first appearance with the team.
Next up: Pioneer Invitational at Sulphur Rock, Sept. 11
Lyon College Invitational, Thursday, Aug. 30
The Pioneer cross-country teams gave a hint of good things to come with a strong start on the difficult Lyon College Invitational course. The senior boys showed their depth, taking third with five scoring in the top 30. Senior girls also took third with one of their best absent and another just returned, both recovering from illness. Junior boys also were missing one of their best, but all returnees improved and newcomers showed potential.
Only two junior girls lined up, but freshman Maggie Walton started 2018 faster than her excellent finish on the same course in 2017. She ran 11:38 for the 1.5-mile course. The field was faster, too, so she placed ninth, a little lower despite racing close to Kaylee Clark’s Pioneer-leading junior time here last season. Seventh-grader Kinley Dorris finished a solid 33rd in the field of 112 in her racing debut.
Clark, now a sophomore, sat out the senior girls 5K race after medical time off, and district rival Valley View took advantage to claim the team title. Pioneer junior Lauren Cowden finished fifth in 23:08, just behind Valley View’s star freshman Sophey Pope, but two minutes faster than her season opener here last year. Transfer Reese Gardner,
part of the strong sophomore class, a fit senior doing double duty with basketball, finished 14th in 24:57, matching Cowden’s 2017 time. Returning classmates sophomores Madelyn Cunningham (29th in 26:39) and Tori Roddy (42nd in 28:26) start where they left off moving up late last year to make a strong conference and state squad. Roddy ran on limited practice after illness. Sophomore Morgan Fryer, a junior high track standout in sprints, rounded out the team in her distance debut in 48th of 104 runners, in a steady time of 29:16.
The junior boys missed ailing frontrunner Trey Moody but freshman classmate Noah Chaffin ran a solid 10:12 in 17th place. That was two minutes faster than his debut here last year, and would have matched our leader Gunner Shell for third place overall in that 2017 race. Eighth-grade returnees Andrew Wixson (11:49) and Mason Evans (14:21) also showed great progress from 2017. Freshman newcomer Jacob Dorris (12:23) will help the team as he racks up more practice miles. Seventh-graders Kade Barber (12:07) and Alexandre Tenace (13:34) will likewise add depth as they gain experience.
The senior boys already have plenty of depth, returning a competitive pack of sophomores, with some veteran upperclass leadership mixed in. Soph Gunner Shell led the way in 11th at 20:29, with junior Peyton Fowler close behind in 20:56. Hayden Keister at 21:15, junior exchange student Quentin Mousnier at 21:45, and Brandon Grant at 22:04 gave the Pioneers five finishers in the top 26 of 132. Those times also put four as fast as our top two at Lyon last year. 10th-graders Kaden Shaw (22:43), Jorge Cervantes (23:21), Devin Rice (23:55), Aiden Lambert (25:37), and Nery Mazariegos (26:14) all are building from last year’s late rise to varsity. Sophomore Junior Lopez, in shape from soccer, took to his new sport with a respectable 25:21. Fellow soccer player Cody Tosh, a senior returning to cross-country for the first time since junior high, ran 24:28. Junior Lane Lambert had a strong mid-pack finish in 23:33, half a minute faster than his 2017 Lyon run. Senior Brian Briesmeister fleshed out the deep squad of 14 runners, running 26:23.
Senior squads got a good look at the task ahead, as the Cave City boys took the first four places with two runners around 17 minutes and two more under 19 minutes. That’s the sort of team that the Pioneers will see at the state championships. Our five or six are at 22 minutes, and will be working to drop collectively under 20. Senior girls are right in the mix with Valley View as a state-level team, barring injury or illness. As with the boys, the girls have some work to do to trim those minutes, but the potential is high.
Next up: The Bearkatz Invitational at Melbourne, Tuesday, Sept. 4.