ARKADELPHIA – The Bryant Lady Hornet cross country team opened the season with a victory Saturday at the OBU Invitational. The Lady Hornets put all five of their scorers in the top 17 places to take the team championship with a score of 44 points. Lake Hamilton was runner-up with 66 points followed by Mt. St. Mary (66), LR Christian (81), Cabot (140) and Trinity Christian (176). There were 15 total teams and 163 individual finishers in the race.
“I was really proud of how our girls competed,” Bryant Coach Danny Westbrook said. “Lake Hamilton was the 6A State Champion last year and only lost one girl off that team. They really beat us bad here last year. I feel like we got a measure of revenge this year.”
Bryant was led by senior Melinda Murdock, who took second place with a time of 19:49. Junior Caitlyn Bell finished fifth in 20:53, with sophomore Hannah Shelby finishing 10th in 21:17. Sophomore Hunter Delaney (12th, 21:31) and senior Gabby Crabtree (17th 21:54) finished out the scoring five. All of Bryant’s scorers received top 20 medals.
“I thought Melinda and Caitlyn ran really strong up front,” Westbrook said. “Sophomores’ Hannah Shelby and Hunter Delaney had outstanding races. Gabby Crabtree just showed tremendous courage by finishing strong even when she was not feeling well. She really sealed the victory for us.”
Tayln Billins was Bryant’s sixth runner placing 24th with a time of 22:21 followed by Reagan Smith who finished 38th in 23:36.
The Jr. Lady Hornets finished fifth in the team competition with a score of 123. Cabot won the team title with 50 points followed by Genoa Central (101), LR Christian (105), and Pulaski Academy (117). There were 13 total teams and 197 individual finishers in the race.
“Our Jr. Girls competed hard, but we did not run well as a team,” Westbrook said. “To contend for meet championships, we are going to have to find some girls willing to run up front with the leaders.”
Bryant was led by freshman Sydney Wilson, who finished in 13th place with a time of 14:25. Freshman Rachel Curtis also received a top 20 medal by finishing 18th in 14:53. Mary Catherine Selig (22nd, 15:04), Jessica Butler (32nd, 15:23), and Sami Smith (42nd, 15:49) finished out the scoring five.
Camryn Bolton (45th, 16:03) and Alyssa Rowland (47th, 16:05) completed Bryant’s top seven.