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2006 State Cross Country Meet Preview

Saturday, November 11, 2006 Infield of Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, AR

by Bob Kelly

Summary and Race Times:

boys: 6A -- 7A -- 1A/2A -- 3A -- 4A -- 5A

girls: 6A -- 7A -- 1A/2A -- 3A -- 4A -- 5A

Distance: 5K
Course: Grass and rolling hills

Note: This is the first year of Class 6A and 7A. Generally, the old Class 5A was split into 6A and 7A. The new Class 5A is primarily the former Class 4A.

Caution: These are not predictions but solely analysis of reported best times. Surprises at State are common for a variety of reason including weather, illness, motivations of the individual runners, junior high runners moving up and not seen before, late surges in conditioning, etc.

Class 6A Boys – 9:00 a.m.

Unless the 6A East has been hiding this fall, Lake Hamilton looks to be in position to take home the top trophy based on a good showing at Chile Pepper even without top runner Josh Brewer and has seven of the Top 10 Class 6A reported times. Mountain Home, Sheridan, Marion and possibly Jonesboro look to chase the 2nd place trophy. Sheridan has six runners within a minute for a tight spread.

Josh Brewer and teammate Logan Dockery hope to lead the Wolves to the first 6A title and both could push the 16-minute mark and it may be time for Kyle Houston of Forrest City to challenge the leaders. A tactical race by the Lake Hamilton pair could open the door for Houston to use his sub-2 minute 800m speed down the stretch.

Favorites: Lake Hamilton, Mountain Home. Marion, Sheridan, Jonesboro

Top 5 best times reported: Josh Brewer, Lake Hamilton (15:58); Logan Dockery, Lake Hamilton (16:18); Kyle Houston, Forrest City (16:36); Ryder Pierce, Mt. Home (16:51); Josh Parkey, Jonesboro (16:57)

Class 6A Girls - 9:30 a.m.

This race will be a challenge to get hold of enough data to assess. Lake Hamilton is the most visible team and has a bevy of runners who have posted times within 75 seconds of the leader. Little is known of the 6A East teams although Mt. Home easily won the 6A-E Conference Meet by nearly 40 points over 2nd place Jonesboro. Mountain Home has led the Coaches Poll all year with Lake Hamilton second. Marion making a move into 3rd in the poll in recent weeks did not field a complete team at 6A-E. This race may be the source of the most intrigue and should be fun to watch. Freshmen runners moving up to varsity could be the deciding factor.

Mountain Home boasts the Top 2 runners in Shannon Hicks and Alana Holland. If the Lady Bombers can close ranks at the back , they can put it away, otherwise Lake Hamilton will be looking to slip into first.

Favorites: Mountain Home, Lake Hamilton, Watson Chapel

Top 5 best times reported: Shannon Hicks, Mt. Home (21:16); Alana Holland, Mt. Home (21:22); Brittany Falcinelli, Searcy (22:36); Ceirra Emerson, Watson Chapel (23:00); Brittany Tuner, Lake Hamilton (23:27)

Class 7A Boys – 10:15 a.m.

Last year Fayetteville came in as the clear favorites in the big school classification looking to break Roger’s stranglehold on State Meet championship trophies. The Bulldogs did not put it away early and the Mounties swarmed by them to take the win. This year the Mounties have been overwhelming competition all year with solid upfront runners and great depth garnering a #9 ranking in the Nike South Regional Poll and an impressive finish at the Nike South meet and the Chile Pepper Festival plus a win at the OSU Cowboy Jamboree. The Mounties took a routine win at the first ever 7A West Conference meet. If Rogers runs as they are capable, the results will be the same as the prior four years with another championship trophy to add to an overflowing trophy case in the Commons at Rogers High School. The trio of Aaron Hamilton, Eric Molina and Taylor Surly pose a formidable front three with all capable of sub 16 on a perfect day.

Fayetteville has been improving of late and took 2nd at the Mountie Classic. The Purple Dogs should have the edge for runner-up but Van Buren and Ft. Smith Southside with a good day could sneak ahead. Last year’s letdown might be the motivation Fayetteville needs to put in their best effort of the year and be ready in case Rogers falters.

Aaron Hamilton (Rogers) has posted the best 5K time with a strong run at Chile Pepper but Ethan Blakely (Bryant), Alden Holtz (Southside) and Nathan Johnson (Cabot) are close behind and present an opportunity for a hard fought race for the individual title.

Favorites: Rogers, Springdale, Van Buren, Fayetteville

Top 10 best times reported: Aaron Hamilton, Rogers (15:46); Ethan Blakely, Bryant (15:56); Alden Holtz, Southside (16:04); Nathan Johnson, Cabot (16:06); Eric Molina, Rogers (16:12); Justin Ferriel, Bentonville (16:14); Taylor Surly, Rogers (16:15); Caleb Hanson, Southside (16:21); Rob Gulliver, Springdale (16:24); Forrest Roth, Rogers (16:33)

Class 7A Girls – 10:45 a.m.

The Bentonville Lady Tigers enter the State Meet ranked #9 in the Nike South Region and have ruled the roost all year in Arkansas. The Lady Tigers put seven in the Top 13 at the inaugural 7A West meet and left with a win over Benton County rival Rogers by 28-37. At the Chile Pepper, Bentonville finished an impressive 2nd behind Nike Southeast #2 Tupelo, MS. However, Rogers has been edging closer to Bentonville as two top runners are putting early season injuries behind them and running better each meet. Last year Bentonville entered as the prohibitive and came home disappointed after a hot, humid day that saw many teams lose runners to the conditions and finish well off their pace. Rogers won the battle last year but will need a near perfect performance plus some help from others picking off Bentonville’s 5th which will be no easy task. Without a big surprise, everyone else will be racing for 3rd as the 7A West looks to take two trophies home to Benton County.

There should be plenty of excitement in the individual race as there are at least five runners capable of a sub 19 time with the two leaders having already done so on legitimate courses. Alyssa Potter (Bentonville) posted a state leading 18:46 at the 7A West meet while top challenger Courtney Efurd (Rogers soph) first went under 19 at Chile Pepper at 18:57 then followed that up with a tough 18:58 at the slower Mountie Classic course. Efurd was suffering from illness at 7A West and took 2nd at 19:17. Both runners like to take out a fast pace and are not afraid to run well beyond the pack. They could have some tough company from Emily Carpenter (Cabot) and Erika Setzler (Conway).

Favorites: Bentonville, Rogers, Fayetteville leads the pack for 3rd

Top 10 best times reported: Alyssa Potter, Bentonville (18:46); Courtney Efurd, Rogers (18:57); Emily Carpenter, Cabot (19:07); Natalia Guerrero, Rogers (19:12); Erika Setzler, Conway (19:17); Brittany Potter, Bentonville (19:22); Katie Dalton, Bentonville (19:34); Kim Peek, Springdale Har-ber (19:41); Rachael Conley, Rogers (19:46); Rebecca Peneau, Mount St. Mary’s (19:48)

Class 1A/2A Boys – 11:30 a.m.:

The smallest schools always seem to make the most progress at the end of the season making for an interesting race at State. Jasper got off to an early start and ran well throughout the fall. Meanwhile, Acorn emerged late as a strong contender with a victory at the Acorn Invitational. Murfreesboro has garnered Coaches Poll attention this fall and could be on the edge of making a run at Jasper and Acorn. While Jasper has three of the Top 4 reported times, they have only a 3:48 spread making them vulnerable to being picked off at the rear as Acorn has an excellent 34 spread. This race looks to turn on whether Jasper can close the gate fast enough and not let an extra 2-3 runners in front of their 5th. Once again, the 5th place runner may be the deciding factor.

Johnny Purvis (Jasper) has posted an impressive 16:23 for 5K and is the favorite to win the individual title by a minute or more.

Favorites: Acorn and Jasper with Murfreesboro closing in

Top 5 best times reported: Johnny Purvis, Jasper (16:23); David James, Jasper (17:35); Chris McLead, Magazine (17:42); Jeremy Chaplic, Jasper (18:29); Zac Christopher, Acorn (18:35)

Class 1A/2A Girls – Noon:

With few head-to-head comparisons during the regular season, the race is somewhat of a mystery. Based solely on reported times, Johnson County Westside seems to have a clear margin of safety over trio of Des Arc, Hackett and Greers Ferry Westside. However, the Coaches Poll has had Des Arc in the top spot this fall but the Eagles will need to close ranks at the back to take the top trophy home. This could be a race where the Top 4 are less than 20 points apart making for an exciting finish line.

Alex Patterson of Des Arc seems the clear favorite with a 20:47 earlier in the season that is nearly 50 seconds ahead of the next best time.

Favorites: Johnson County Westside, Des Arc, Greers Ferry Westside, Hackett

Top 5 best times reported: Alex Patterson, Des Arc (20:47); Emily Hester, JC Westside (21:37); Kimberly Parchman, Des Arc (21:47); Ladatha Buchanan, Acorn (22:48); Stephanie Sunderman, JC Westside (22:51)

Class 3A Boys – 12:45 p.m.:

Genoa Central has led the Coaches Poll since Week 1 but Perryville and Elkins have made a late season flourish to close the gap and challenge for the trophy. Perryville has six in the Top 25 best times but Genoa Central has two runners within less than 10 seconds. Elkins has to move their 5th runner up quite a bit as there is now more than a minute spread between their 4th and 5th runner which permits lots of mischief. This race would seem to hinge on the strength of the 5th runner to seal the deal for whoever comes out of top. Genoa Central has a very slight lead based on reported times with a 1:40 spread.

Barrett Kerth of Perryville looks to race Lucas Pieser of Shiloh Christian for the individual championship. Peiser won the Junior High Boys 2 Mile in a speedy 10:44 over the Mountie Classic Course. Both runners could go below 17 minutes in a smart race.

Favorites: Genoa Central, Perryville, Elkins

Top 5 best times reported: Barrett Kerth, Perryville (17:01); Lucas Peiser, Shiloh Christian (17:11); Chris Gray, Paris (17:30); David Sunde, LR Episcopal (17:51); four at 18:32-34

Class 3A Girls – 1:15 p.m.:

The Genoa Central Girls have also led the Coaches Poll all year but they would seem to need to only take care of business to emerge on top after the race. With six of the Top 10 best times reported, Genoa Central should have a block of runners at the finish and it should be obvious they have won if they finish in a tight pack having a spread of less than 1:30. If Genoa Central gets split up and stretched out, then Harding Academy and Lamar have a chance to close ranks but both will have to improve their 4th and 5th runners by a minute to cause real trouble.

Grace Heymsfield of Elkins emerged at Chile Pepper as the real deal and took an impressive 2nd at the Mountie Classic. With a best of 19:10, Heymsfield should easily take the win with Alex Haynes of Prescott having the 2nd best time at an excellent 20:54 followed closely by Haley Lehman of Harding Academy at 20:56.

Favorites: Genoa Central, Harding Academy, Lamar, Elkins, Eureka Springs

Top 5 best times reported: Grace Heymsfield, Elkins (19:10); Alex Haynes, Prescott (20:54); Haley Lehman, Harding Academy (20:56); Callie Smith, Eureka Springs (21:11); Kalin Hill, Genoa Central (21:50)

Class 4A Boys – 2:00 p.m.:

Heber Springs has run strong all season and has led the Coaches Poll the whole way for good reason with five of the Top 10 of the best reported times and seven of the Top 18. With a modestly good race or better, Heber should take another #1 trophy back to the hills. The race for 2nd is more complicated but DeQueen, Central Arkansas Christian and Berryville have the best chance based on reported times. The Leopards have the best shot with three in the Top 14 but need a good performance from their 4th and 5th to hold off CAC and Berryville.

Aaron Edwards of Berryville has a Class 4A best reported time at an excellent 16:14 and should have the inside track to the win.

Favorites: Heber Springs with DeQueen, CAC and Berryville in the hunt

Top 5 best times reported: Aaron Edwards, Berryville (16:14); Luke Smith, Prairie Grove (17:05); B. J. Hood, Heber Springs (17:26); Coby Sanders, Heber Springs (17:36); Jorge Parada, DeQueen (17:41)

Class 4A Girls – 2:30 p.m.:

This race could be close although Berryville has a clear advantage based on reported times but there are few comparable times adding a bit of confusion. The Lady Bobcats have seven of the Top 22 that should be enough firepower to take home yet another trophy to Carroll County. Heber Springs has seven of the Top 18 but loaded towards the back. DeQueen has a tough Top 3 but their 4th and 5th have yet to show they can move up the needed 10-15 places to be competitive for a trophy.

Hannah Clardy of Arkansas Baptist and Megan Plumlee of Berryville are primed to race for the crown as each have run about 20:35 for 5K both posting time son flat and fast courses at Harding and Elkins, respectively.

Favorites: Berryville, Heber Springs, DeQueen

Top 5 best times reported: Hannah Clardy, Arkansas Baptist (20:34); Megan Plumlee, Berryville (20:37); Catie Clark, Mena (21:23); Amber Tury, Heber Springs (21:25); Tori Grimm, Berryville (21:35)

Class 5A Boys – 3:15 p.m.:

On paper the Panthers of Siloam Springs have a slight but notable lead over Greene County Tech, Beebe and Alma. To win yet another trophy for Benton County, Siloam needs to keep their 1:40 spread in tact and try to close up ranks on their 4th and 5th runners who are dangerously back in a crowded field. However, the Panther’s Top 3 are solid and should place in the Top 10 to provide some breathing room. Beebe may have slight advantage for 2nd with a nice 1:30 spread while Alma has about 1:50 and GCT about 2 minutes, both troubling in a crowded field. Whoever closes the spread the best has the inside track to a trophy.

Luke Allen of Harrison ran a solid 16:21 at Chile Pepper and took 3rd in 16:46 over the slower Mountie Classic course. Matt Mason of Alma has the best chance to challenge.

Favorites: Siloam Springs, Beebe, Alma, GCT

Top 10 best times reported: Luke Allen, Harrison (16:21); Matt Mason, Alma (17:02); Seth Freeman, GCT (17:03); Curtis Bedor, Siloam Springs (17:09); Jacob Hendricks, Beebe (17:22)

Class 5A Girls – 3:45 p.m.:

Batesville continues to run strong with five of the Top 15 runners based on reported times and al five being below 21:17. However, a 1:50 spread gives a competitor a window of opportunity. Siloam Springs may have the best chance to give chase although LR Christian snuck up on the Lady Panthers at the 5A West Conference Meet and won on a tiebreaker. LRC posted a spread of 2:08 at 5A that could cause problems at Sate with a larger field. However, Siloam was even more troubling at a 3:05 spread. Wide spreads give the competition a chance in a larger field as more runners can slip in front of the 5th runner. If Siloam or LRC are not careful, Beebe and Pulaski Academy could make a run for the 2nd place trophy

While Rachel Hill of Siloam has the best reported time of 19:21, she was 2nd to Tia Young of Harrison at 5A West who won by an impressive 19:43 to 20:44. Young posted a solid 19:40 at Chile Pepper that serves to make her the favorite at State as those who have run faster did so on the flat and fast Harding course.

Favorites: Batesville, Siloam Springs, LRC, Beebe and Pulaski Academy

Top 10 best times reported: Rachel Hill, Siloam Springs (19:21); Ashley Miess, Pulaski Academy (19:23); Nicole Smith, Batesville (19:27); Amanda Kohler, Batesville (19:34); Tia Young, Harrison (19:40)

Arkansas State Meet Index