2002 Cross Country
Season Preview

by Arkansas TrackStats, the site for news of Arkansas

Summer is winding down and fall is on the horizon. The summer training season is over and there are only a little over ten weeks until the State Meets. Teams are getting ready for the fall racing season and before long the crisp cool air will replace the muggy, hot weather. It must be Cross-Country season in Arkansas !!

One of the elements of any secondary school sport is the mystery as to who will return from last season and what new faces will arrive. At this point about all that we can do is look to last year’s State Meet results and to last spring’s track results and try to recap which teams would appear to have an edge. Of course, State Meet finishes are in the hands of the runners and last year’s results mean little. Favored teams sometimes struggle and lose to up-and-comers. One new athlete moving into a school district or a returnee from last year moving away can alter a team’s position significantly. Coaches are always looking for someone to step up to a higher level and for those 6th and 7th place runners to close the gap. Who will end up on top in November? No one knows.

Class 1A/2A

The big news in Class 1A/2A for cross-country is that perennial powerhouse Pottsville, along with Shiloh Christian, move up to Class 3A. Eureka Springs moves down to 2A.

Girls ….. Harding Academy (2A), the defending champs, bring a strong team back for another run at the crown. Harding has six of the Top 21 best returning finishes from 2001 with individual champ, Ashley Dixon, leading the way. Becca Wallis of Eureka Springs was last year’s 3A individual champ and should give Dixon a good race. Magnet Cove (2A) was 2nd in 2001 and needs to improve the finish of their 4th and 5th runners to challenge for the team title. Junior Kristen Kennerly of Magnet Cove could challenge Dixon and Wallis. Genoa Central (2A) and Little Rock Lutheran (1A) appear to be next in line. Lutheran needs to close up their 4th and 5th into the Top 30 to make a run for a trophy come November.

Boys … This looks to be a dandy race led by 1A teams. Lutheran and Acorn both have the teams on paper to run away from the rest of the field. Sophomores Heath Phelps of Acorn and Joseph Van Mulligan of Lutheran were 3rd-4th last year and have the best times of the returning runners. Lutheran also returns the 3rd-5th-7th and 11th best times from 2001 that could make for a rout. Last year Lutheran took a close 101-103 win over Acorn. Never overlook Acorn when it comes to the State Meet.

Watch List:

Girls….. Harding Academy, Eureka Springs, Magnet Cove, Genoa Central, Lutheran

Boys …. Lutheran, Acorn, J. D. Leftwich, Elkins, Harding Academy, Pottsville

Keep and eye on:

Girls …. Ashley Dixon, Harding Academy; Kristen Kennerly, Magnet Cove, Becca Wallis, Eureka Springs; Melissa Arnold, Decatur; Megan Bradshaw, Lutheran

Boys … Heath Phelps, Acorn; Joseph Van Mulligan, Lutheran; T. Williams, Wickes; Adam Becker, Lutheran; Jonas Rosenhahn, Lutheran

Class 3A

Berryville again looks to continue its recent dominance of Class 3A with a strong crew of underclassmen last year. Pottsville and Shiloh Christian move up to 3A and may find their shins bruised by the Bobcats.

Girls….The Lady Bobcats were supposed to waltz to victory in 2001 but breathed a big sigh of relief as they hung on to edge a surprising Perryville and a stubborn Dover, 62-69-74. Dover actually led after four runners were in but their 5th was only 35th. Although Dover looks to return two of the Top 7 times, they lost a flock of seniors and will have to look to freshmen moving up. Berryville is scheduled to have returning four of the Top 17 runners from 2001. Perryville could challenge, especially if their 4th and 5th can move up into the Top 20. Batesville Southside would seem to be the frontrunner for 3rd with Pulaski Academy, DeQueen and West Fork in the pack.

Senior Jana Derlikowski of Pulaski Academy was 2nd a year ago just edging out Dover sophomore Amber Rappe. These two had the best times last year by some 10 seconds over other returnees as 2001 champ Becca Wallis of Eureka Springs moves to Class 2A. There is a herd of returnees from last year within 30 seconds that can lead to lost of surprises come November.

Boys ….The Berryville Bobcats have five of the 2001 Top 20 scheduled to return from a championship team and look to be easily the class of 3A with a pack including only one senior. The race for runner-up looks to feature Pottsville in their 3A debut, DeQueen (3rd in 2001) and Heber Springs (4th in 2001).

The Top 5 returning times are all within 20 seconds meaning that the summer running programs may well be decisive. Bobcat junior Cesar Lemus, Oak Grove junior Valentin Ahumada and DeQueen junior Derek Sherwood have the best returning times.

Watch List:

Girls … Berryville, Perryville, Batesville Southside, Pulaski Academy, DeQueen

Boys … Berryville, DeQueen, Pottsviile, Heber Springs, Shiloh Christian, Lamar

Keep an eye on:

Girls … Jana Derlikowski, Pulaski Academy; Amber Rappe, Dover; Stephanie Craig, Central Arkansas Christian; Lauren Ellis, Berryville; Anabel Trujillo, Berryville; Kim Pitts, Perryville

Boys …. Cesar Lemus, Berryville; Valentin Ahumada, Oak Grove; Derek Sherwood, DeQueen; Justin Cajero, DeQueen; Montrail Brooks, Warren

Class 4A

Lots of familiar faces are expected to populate the crowd again. Watson Chapel (4th in 2001 Girls) gets to return to 5A and join the fun with the big schools.

Girls …. Based on last year’s times, the 2001 1-2-3 teams figure to be fighting again for the Top 3 spots. Vilonia (3rd in 2001) appears to have lots of depth that always plays well in November. With four of the Top 15 returning times, Vilonia could well be the team to beat. However, it would be a mistake to overlook the Lady Goblins from Harrison (2nd in 2001) who may be even stronger in 2002 with four of the Top 13 top times returning. Harrison also has good depth and could win handily. Never count out the Lady Panthers from Siloam Springs who have three of the Top 7 returning times and are looking for a4th and 5th to round out their troop. If Siloam can close the gap it could be a very close race down to the last runner.

Junior Dianne Miller of Siloam Springs was 2nd in 2001 and would easily win based on last year’s times. Miller ran 12:15 for 3200m outdoor in track but did not have a good finish to the season. Siloam needs Miller to set the pace. Sophomore Brianna Green of Harrison and junior Brittany Knight of Vilonia were only eight seconds apart last year and should be well-positioned top finish high again in 2002.

Boys …Little Rock Fair surprised Siloam Springs last year by 51-64 and would be seem to be back even stronger for 2002. With five of the Top 14 returning times, this would seem to close the books early for a repeat performance. Monticello (3rd in 2001) and Vilonia (5th in 2001) appear poised to fight it out for runner-up with each having an opening if they can move their 5th runner up. Siloam could still challenge but the Panthers have some definite shoes to fill and freshmen will likely be called on as three of their Top 5 graduated.

Quincy Googs of Fair won easily in 2001 and appears to be the solid preseason favorite. Chris Pentracosta of Hot Springs (3rd in 2001) ran well in track this spring and may be ready to challenge for the individual title.

Watch List:

Girls … Harrison, Siloam Springs, Vilonia

Boys .. Fair, Monticello, Vilonia, Siloam Springs, Lakeside, Hot Springs

Keep an eye on:

Girls …Dianne Miller, Siloam Springs; Brianna Green, Harrison; Brittany Knight, Vilonia; Rebecca Davis, Siloam Springs; Jessalyn Halstead, Harrison; Stephanie McBride, Siloam Springs

Boys …Quincy Googs, Fair; Chris Pentracosta, Hot Springs; Markita Smith, Fair; Taylor Munro, Vilonia

Class 5A

Once again these races look to be a dogfight. Only five of the 2001 Top 20 Girls graduated while half of the Boys Top 20 departed. Fifth place runners will tell the tale.

Girls …Bentonville (3rd in 2001) has been at the top for several years and on paper has returnees who could challenge. Reportedly the Lady Tigers are facing lean times and are expected to be rebuilding. Fayetteville (1st in 2001 and 2nd in 2000) have some serious work to do as they lost two of their Top 5, one who finished 6th overall. Filling those holes will be essential. Mt. Home’s Lady Bombers appear primed to lead the pack with a solid returning squadron comprised of four of the Top 24 times from 2001. Rogers, picked to challenge in 2001, suffered a rare dismal day at the State Meet last year and had to settle for a very disappointing 6th. The Lady Mounties will be a question mark throughout the season even though they are returning four from last year. Lake Hamilton will have a formidable leading duo and can be counted on for a competitive five. Mount St. Mary’s and Bryant should be in the trophy hunt but will need to take a big step up. Bryant seems to have an endless supply of 800m runners so they could pull a surprise. The new crop of freshmen in 5A seem to hold the key for all of the leading team’s.

Katya Kostetskaya of Jonesboro (1st in 2001) owns the state best track times for 400m and the 2nd best for 800m and 1600m. With an easy win last year, she should be heavily favored to repeat. All five of the Top 5 return setting up what could be the most outstanding individual race of the State Meet. Lake Hamilton’s Beth Madson (2nd) and Patricia Bradbury (5th) can be expected to push the pack and lead the Lady Wolves. Sophomore Ashley Williams of Mount St. Mary’s (3rd) should be near the front as should Fayetteville’s Nikki Williams (4th) who won the Class 5A 1600m last spring in an excellent 5:20 clocking. Another dozen runners are within less than 30 seconds setting a hectic finish.

Boys …The Russellville Cyclones look to return five of the Top 17 times in spite of losing the overall 8th and 12th place runners from the 2001 championship team. Maybe the AAA should just send the winner’s trophy to Russellville. Well, not so fast. Mt. Home (4th) returns five of the Top 21 times and Lake Hamilton (5th) returns five of the Top 24. Both will need a slip up by the Cyclones but should Russellville falter, it could be a wide open free-for-all. Rogers (2nd) returns lots of depth but lost three key runners, including two All-Staters. The Mounties could challenge if their underclassmen come of age at State. Fayetteville (3rd) matches Rogers very closely with returnees and face a similar situation.

Chase Feltner (1st) and Travis Feltner (2nd) look to team up with fellow Cyclones Brian Garner (6th) and Nathan Smith (11th) to attempt to blow away the competition as to repeat as champs. Burt Hicks of Lake Hamilton (3rd) is expected to challenge for the individual title after a terrific spring track season ending winning with a convincing win in the 3200m at the Meet of Champs. Derek Curry of Mt. Home and Russellville’s Garner look to get below 16 minutes for 5K and join the front-runners.

Watch List:

Girls …. Mt. Home, Fayetteville, Lake Hamilton, Rogers, Bentonville, Mount St. Mary’s, Bryant

Boys … Russellville, Mt. Home, Lake Hamilton, Fayetteville, Rogers, Conway

Keep an eye on:

Girls …. Katya Kostetskaya, Jonesboro; Beth Madson, Lake Hamilton; Ashley Williams, Mount St. Mary’s; Nikki Williams, Fayetteville; Patricia Bradbury, Lake Hamilton; Andrea Peerson, Rogers; Brittany Beck, Mt. Home; Alicia Owensby, Bentonville; Julia Masotto, Mt. Home; Chelsea Silvestri, Conway

Boys … Chase Feltner, Russellville; Burt Hicks, Lake Hamilton; Travis Feltner, Russellville; Brian Garner, Russellville; Derek Curry, Mt. Home; Nathan Smith, Russellville; Eric Harris, Conway; Luis Flores, Rogers; Ryan Garvin, Lake Hamilton; Stefan Mueller, Rogers



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