West Side sophomore Haley Gentry found herself in victory lane at the Bearkatz Invitational cross country meet in Melbourne Tuesdayafternoon, proving that she will be a serious threat once again on the circuit on her quest to defend her 2017 Class 1-2A individual state championship.
Gentry's time of 22:09.63 bested that of Batesville's Lauren Cowden by over a minute (23.15.94), giving the multi-sport athlete her first victory of the young season. Teammate Alex Southerland followed close behind in eighth (24:08.15)
The two-time defending Class 2A state champion Quitman Lady Bulldogs showed they will be the group to beat at Oaklawn in November, winning the team title over Class 6A Mountain Home 83-91. Among the top finishers for Quitman included the 1-2 punch of Haley Trawick (4th, 23:33.46) and Halle Bennett (5th, 23:38.46), also getting support from Lilly Holland (23rd, 27:02.20). The two-time defending Class 4A champion Heber Springs Lady Panthers turned in strong finishes themselves, with junior McKenzie Becerra leading the way with a time of 23:43.00, good for sixth place. Sydney Buffalo seized 13th with a time of 24:44.75, as Allison Wildman rounded out the top twenty at 26:53.48. Heber Springs finished fourth in the team standings with 109, just ten points back of third place Batesville.
In boys action, senior Parker Ables, who came into the year as the two-time reigning 4A individual state champion, took third place on the Melbourne course, clocking in at 17:37.05. Junior Trenton Barnes claimed eighth on a 19:42.54 performance, while the Quitman trio of Zach Shue, Drake Peterson and Jaden Hagens seized the tenth, eleventh and twelfth spots.2017 4A state champion Cave City seized the team championship, topping Mountain Home 37-64. Quitman (81) and Heber Springs (102) ended up in third and fourth, respectively.
Switching gears to junior high, it was Taylor Hooten carrying the torch for the runner-up Jr. Lady Bulldogs with a third place showing (10:33.20). Maygan Jarvis of Heber Springs was the next top finisher for area athletes (11th, 11:34.73), as Mckenna Knapp closing out as West Side's first participant to complete the race (27th, 12:52.58) The host Jr. Lady Bearkatz dominated the contest, placing five runners in the top ten (first, fourth, sixth, seventh, eighth), getting by Quitman 26-86.
Like his older sister, West Side freshman Travis Gentry, also a multi-sport athlete, placed high in the finishing order, working his way to sixth with a tally of 9:20.56, finishing right ahead of Quitman freshman Nick Shue (9:21.45). Heber Springs freshman Nathan Poff found himself in the top ten with a time of 9:38.91, with classmate Mason Harris claiming twelfth (9:49.04) Dax Hipp (15th, 9:55.65) and Brenton Knapp (20th, 10:14.55) completed the Jr. Eagles' top three scoring outputs, as Mountain Home won the team title between the two schools, 55-95. The Jr. Panthers found fourth place overall with a score of 137.
Up next for West Side, Quitman and Heber Springs is the Josh Park Memorial Invitational this coming Tuesday at Dam Site Park, which will play host to over 30 schools, including Rose Bud. The Jr. Boys race will kick off the day with a start time of 4:30 PM, followed by the Jr. Girls, Sr. Girls and Sr. Boys.