Immaculate Heber Springs senior Ethan Bly amassed a meet-high 39 points, leading the Panthers to their second consecutive victory on Thursday at the Panther Relays.
After winning their season opening meet at Searcy by a narrow margin, the two-time defending state champion Panthers eased to victory this time, accumulating 146 points, while runner-up Forrest City finished with 84.
Vilonia (3rd, 67), Nettleton (4th, 60) and Morrilton (5th, 40) placed 3-5 at the 24-school state-qualifying meet held on a beautiful day at Panther Stadium.
Bly, who boasts a rare combination of speed and power, won the Long Jump (21' .75”) and placed runner-up in three events, including the 100 (11.24), 200 (22.53) and 400 (51.24).
Bly also placed fourth in the Shot Put (43'3”) and he ran the first leg for the 4x400 relay team, which finished first with a time of 3:31.36. Jorge Garcia, Daniel Henley and Austin Schmidt joined Bly on the 4x400 team.
Dynamic junior distance runner Brock Ballard compiled 20 points by winning a team-high two events as he took the 800 with a time of 2:07.02 and the 1600 with a mark of 4:44.02. Heber's Zach McArthur finished second in the 800 (2:07.69) and senior leader Andrew Powell took third in the 1600 (4:46.61).
In a close 800 race, Episcopal's Zack McGinnis led after the final turn, but Ballard displayed more stamina by pulling in front with 50 meters remaining.
Powell won the 3200 (10:27.66) and teammate Devin Redding placed sixth (10:57.51), while senior standout Clint Ligon won the 110 hurdles with a time of 15.29.
Ligon also placed in the Long Jump (3rd, 20'6”) and High Jump (5th, 5'6”) for a total of 20 points, tying Ballard for second most on the team.
Heber's 4x800 relay team consisting of Schmidt, Garcia, McArthur and Powell won first place with a time of 8:39.22, giving the Panthers a total of seven first place finishers out of 17 events.
The Panthers scored in all but two events ¬ the Discus and 4x100 relay.
Schmidt placed third in the 400 (52.17) and Derrik Fisher took third in the Shot Put (43'7.25”), while Garcia was fifth in the 300 hurdles (43.60) and Chance Donaldson placed seventh in the 110 hurdles (18.02). Rounding out Heber's point total, Evan Peeler placed eighth in the Pole Vault (10').
The Lady Panthers finished sixth as a team with 60 points at the Panther Relays, behind winner Little Rock Parkview (93), runner-up Vilonia (86.5), third-place Nettleton (80.5) and Beebe and Batesville, which both finished with 63 points for a fourth-place tie.
Amanda Matthews paced Heber, placing runner-up in the 1600 (6:06.49) and 3200 (13:29.43). Mattie Cannon (3rd, 13:46.32) also placed in the 3200.
Heber's 4x800 relay team of Grace Bodron, Adrianna Simmons, Hannah Johnson and Mary Simmons won first place with a time of 10:41.60. The Lady Panthers' 4x100 team of Kelsi Davison, Kortney Davison, Paige Vandivor and Shelby Clark took fourth with a time of 53.33 and Heber's 4x400 team of Isabella Creasey, Vandivor, Alyssa Uphoff and Mary Simmons finished sixth at 4:38.32.
Page 2 of 2 - Mary Simmons placed runner-up in the 800 (2:29.19) and Bodron was seventh (2:43.54). Rounding out the Lady Panthers' point total, Kelsi Davison placed second in the Pole Vault (7'6”) and Uphoff took fifth in the 400 (1:06.24).
Heber's Sr. High track teams return to action on Thursday, March 28 at Vilonia.