Heber Springs and Vilonia have run neck-and-neck at nearly every track meet this season with both coming out on top by small margins on a couple of occasions.
At the Lake Hamilton Invitational in Pearcy on Friday, the Class 4A Panthers edged the Class 5A Eagles by one point (90-89) for the title as junior Clint Ligon led the charge with a team-high 24 points. Class 6A Lake Hamilton finished third with 83.25 points in the 18-team invitational.
Ligon captured 1st place in the high jump (6’5”) and placed 3rd in three events, including the 110 hurdles (15.57), 300 low hurdles (40.96) and long jump (21’ 1.75”), which he posted a season-best mark. Plus, Ligon took 7th in the triple jump (41’6”).
Panther Coach Dale Cresswell said he only took a partial team with the primary goal of getting more athletes qualified for state or qualifying with better marks. “We didn’t take everybody. We didn’t have our top three sprinters or one of our best distance runners. We went down there looking to get some more qualifying times. Both [Heber and Vilonia] took partial teams. The kids did a good job of keying on their events.”
Jake Sanders finished 2nd in the 1600 with a season-best time of 4:25.22, only one tenth of a second behind Lake Hamilton’s Grant Williams in the closest race of the day. Andrew Powell placed 4th (4:49.56) in the 1600 as the Panthers collected 13 points in the event. Heber had three athletes place in the 800 as Austin Schmidt (4th, 2:00.72), Blake Leonard (7th, 2:06.09) and Zach McArthur (8th, 2:08.49) compiled a total of eight points in the event.
Sanders also placed 3rd in the 3200 with a season-best time of 10:03.14, while teammate Devin Redding qualified for state, placing 4th at 10:31.81.
Heber’s 4 x 800 team, which consists of Aaron McKellar, McArthur, Leonard and Garcia, won 1st place with a time of 8:40.97. The Panthers’ 4 x 400 relay team of Daniel Henley, Jessie Hood, Logan Henley and Schmidt finished 2nd (3:31,07) and Heber’s 4 x 100 team of Tylor Alaniz, Drake Ricardi, Logan Henley and Daniel Henley took 7th with a time of 47.85. Rounding out the Panthers’ point total, Nate Hills was 4th in the shot put with a heave of 43’3”, while Jorge Garcia placed in the 300 low hurdles (6th, 42.87).
The Lady Panthers finished 11th out of 18 schools with 21 points. Madi Fires placed 3rd in the 1600 (5:44.35) and Mary Simmons took 3rd in the 800 (2:28.72), just ahead of teammate Savannah Thomas (4th, 2:29.91).
Paige Vandivor placed 7th in the 100 hurdles (17.49) and Heber’s 4 x 100 relay team of Vandivor, Hannah Johnson, Taylor Eaton and Shelby Clark placed 7th (56.52).
Class 7A Bentonville won the meet with 153 points, Class 6A Texarkana placed 2nd (97) and Class 6A Lake Hamilton finished 3rd (79).
Heber hosts the Eagle Bank Relays on Friday with field events starting at 3:30 p.m. at Panther Stadium.