Batesville Pioneers Cross Country: Grant third in strong field

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Batesville seniors Brandon Grant (left) and Gunner Shell wear their top 20 medals from Tuesday’s Blazer Invitational as they gather with classmates Devin Rice and Kaden Shaw (far right) after the race. (Photo by April Hess Rice)

The Batesville Pioneers wrapped up the cross country regular season with a strong performance against their toughest competition Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the Valley View Blazer Kid Spot Invitational.

Senior Brandon Grant finished third behind Manila’s Connor Jackson, ranked fifth overall in the state over the 5K distance, and 5A East leader Keagan Pointer of Jonesboro. Jackson ran 16:39 to win easily on the soggy grass at the Joe Mack Campbell Park sports complex in Jonesboro.

Grant and Pointer raced neck and neck to the finish, with Pointer at 18:18 edging Grant at 18:19.

Pointer and teammates claimed seven of the top 22 places to cruise to the team title with 34 points, ahead of race hosts and longtime Pioneer rival Valley View at 60. The Pioneers grabbed third with 90 points. Valley View had its five scorers in the top 22 and the Pioneers had three.

The Pioneers will contend with Jonesboro again Tuesday (Oct. 27) in the 5A East championship at Crowley’s Ridge College.

Pioneer senior Gunner Shell finished 14th in 20:06 and junior Trey Moody also brought home a top 20 medal, 18th in 20:38. Junior Noah Chaffin came in 29th of 96 in 21:23, with Southside senior Brycen Sutton not far behind, 33rd in 21:45. Senior Devin Rice rounded out the Pioneer scoring five in 37th at 21:54. Southside’s Jonathan Calhoun finished 53rd in 23:17.

Remaining area finishers are Pioneer sophomore Tanner Queary 23:40, Cedar Ridge junior James Cleveland 24:23, and Pioneers senior Kaden Shaw 24:53, sophomore Daniel Latus 25:56, junior Nathan Hernandez 26:30 and sophomore Andrew Wixson 27:49. Southside and Cedar Ridge did not have five runners for a team score.

Valley View flipped the script in the senior girls race, beating Jonesboro 23-46, with Batesville fifth at 136, edged out of fourth by Brookland at 135.

Jonesboro senior Mary Beth Bailey took the individual title in 20:47, but was followed by four Blazers, with senior Reese McMillan second at 20:59. The Blazers had seven ladies take top 20 medals and Jonesboro claimed five.

Southside junior Brett Gardner finished 14th in 24:41 and Pioneer sophomore Maggie Walton fought to 18th in 25:12. Other local finishers in the field of 79 are Pioneer senior Tori Roddy 29th in 27:05, Southside junior Olivia Allen 27:49, and Batesville senior Madelyn Cunningham 28:46, junior Kate Moody 30:00 and senior Becca Wehrung 31:52.

Valley View also won the junior high races, grabbing the boys title with 51 points to Batesville’s 86 in second.

Southside finished ninth and Cedar Ridge did not have a team score in the two-mile run.

Seventh-grader Hudson Copeland of Annie Camp won in 12:26, but the Blazers and Pioneers each had four medalists before the winner’s next teammate. The Pioneers were led by eighth-grader Grant McDonald fourth in 12:45, with ninth-grader Ethan Byler fifth in 12:48, and eighth-graders Isaac Wehrung 10th and Ryan Barber 11th in 13:43.

Kyle Provence led Cedar Ridge, 39th of 98 at 15:18, ahead of teammates Phoenix Ballard 16:06 and Javahn McCann 16:25.

Luke McLaughlin crossed the line first for Southside, 45th in 15:55, joined by Jeremiah Morris 16:17, Micah Kelley 16:24, Ezra Busby 16:37, Caleb Middleton 16:39, Cody Brown 18:02 and Gage Tarpley 21:39.

Fifth scorer for the Pioneers was freshman Alexander Tenace 18:42, nipping classmate Trevor Finnie by tenths of a second.

Sophia Gonzalez ran wire-to-wire to win the junior girls race in 13:47, 20 seconds in front of fellow seventh-grader Vada Watkins of Westside Consolidated. Valley View placed six in the top 20 for the team title with 29 points, with Green County Tech second at 60. Southside finished sixth and Batesville and Cedar Ridge did not have team scores.

Eighth-grader Leilah Campbell of Cedar Ridge brought home a medal in 18th at 16:12. Southside’s Madison Edington just missed in 22nd at 16:44 as did Pioneer Kennedy Johnson 23rd in 16:49.

Also for Southside, Abby Strother finished 29th out of 103, in 17:31, followed by Krieston Bright 18:19, Leah Miller 18:27, Callie Low 21:07, and Rhanda Fields 21:10. Lady Pioneer finishers are seventh-grader Claire Brooks 18:43, tenths of a second ahead of freshman Kinley Dorris, and freshman Tamera Deutsch 23:26. Gracie McNutt of Cedar Ridge ran 21:09.

Official results: https://ar.milesplit.com/meets/389390-blazer-kid-spot-invitational/results

Next for the Pioneers: 5A-East championship Oct. 27 at Crowley’s Ridge College.
Southside: 4A-3 championship back at Joe Mack Campbell Park, Jonesboro, Oct. 27. Jr Girls 3 p.m.

Info via Bruce Oakley, BHS volunteer assistant coach

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