Lady Hornets take title

RUSSELLVILLE – At the Russellville Cyclone cross country invitational Saturday, the Bryant Lady Hornets put six runners in the top 15 places, including Melinda Murdock’s individual victory, to win the team championship.  Bryant scored 35 points to dominate the field of 13 teams.  Mt. St. Mary took runner-up with 63 points followed by LR Christian (87), Heber Springs (120), Conway (144), and Russellville (166).  There were 143 indivdual finishers in the race.  This makes two team championships on the year for Bryant who took the OBU title earlier in the season.
“With her victory today, Melinda served notice that she is one of the top female cross country runners in the state,” Bryant Coach Danny Westbrook said. “ Her time is very impressive considering how hard this course is.  She ran a great race.  I was also extremely proud of Caitlyn Bell.  She ran really close to Melinda most of the race.”
Murdock, a senior, went to the lead soon after the start of the race and never looked back.  She finished with a time of 20:04, 18 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Erin Woodward of LR Christian.  Junior Caitlyn Bell also took top-5 honors with her third-place finish with a time of 20:30.  Sophomore Hannah Shelby took eighth place with a time of 21:38.  The rest of Bryant’s scorers included Hunter Delaney (11th, 21:55), Talyn Billins (13th, 21:57), and Gabby Crabtree (14th, 22:07).  All of Bryant’s top 6 received a top 20 medal. 
Sophomore Reagan Smith (30th, 23:53) and junior Lauren Ackley (36th, 24:12) finished out the top eight for Bryant.  
“I thought as a team we ran awesome,” Westbrook said. “ Anytime you put six runners in the top 14 places in a field of 143 runners, you are going to have an excellent opportunity to win.  We really did a great job of pack running with our second wave of runners.” \ 
Jr. Girls
Behind the individual victory of freshman Sydney Wilson, the Bryant Jr. Lady Hornets took fourth place in the team competition at the Russellville Cyclone Invitational Saturday.   Russellville won the title with a score of 85 points followed by Heber Springs (94), Caddo Hills (105), Bryant (111), and Pulaski Academy (145).  There were 11 teams and 175 indivdual finishers in the race.
“Sydney did a great job of not giving up and tracking down the girl from Heber Springs in the last few meters of the race,” Westbrook said. “She ran a great race.  I thought as a team we ran better today, but we still have some huge time gaps between our scoring runners that we have to correct in order to be in contention for a team title.”
Wilson stayed in second behind Ali Jones of Heber Springs for most of the race.  With a strong surge in the last 50 meters, she passed Jones and took the victory by a mere 2 seconds.   Wilson’s time was 13:38 with Jones taking second in 13:40.  Freshman Rachel Curtis also received a top-20 medal by taking 19th with a time of 14:40.
Eighth-grader Camryn Bolton finished 26th in a time of 15:02.  The rest of Bryant’s scorers were Anne Cockmon (35th, 15:33) and Lauren Hart (39th, 15:44).
Carissa Colclsure (44th, 15:59) and Jasmine Reeves (47th, 16:05) finished out the top seven.
Next up for the Bryant Cross Country program is the Chile Pepper Invitational in Fayetteville next Saturday.