Highlanders improve at State
CARROLL COUNTY -- In the sweltering heat of the Arkansas River Valley last Thursday, the Eureka Springs track team made its mark at Dardanelle as its young athletes placed in a number of events.
Junior Isaac Pirkle made his presence felt in the discus with a fourth-place finish after a throw of 128-4. Pirkle was eighth last year and worked hard to move up four spots.
"He's by himself out there in practice, but he loves what he does, and it paid off with a new school record this year," Coach Hassell Bell said.
Junior Ashley Knapp made her specialty, the 400m dash, pay off with a seventh place finish in 68.75. She also ran the 200m race but didn't make the finals.
"I was impressed with her. She's worked hard all year," Bell said. "She has a lot of dedication to improvement. This was her third year in a row to run and she's ribboned every time."
Ninth-grader Callie Smith had a big day, finishing seventh in both the 1600 and 3200m runs. She ran a 6:02 in the 1600, and a 13:12 in the 3200. She also placed sixth in the pole vault with a vault of 6-6.
Teammate Andrea Hamilton was fifth with a vault of 7-0 as the duo made their mark.
"For ninth-graders to go down to state, and place in two running events and the pole vault, that was excellent," Bell said. "I was proud of all of them."
It wasn't all good news, as ninth-grade distance ace Wes Prado found out. Crowded out of bounds at the start of the 1600m race, he unknowingly ran the first curve illegally and was disqualified after the race after finishing fifth overall.
"I was heartbroken for Wes," Bell said. "He ran a 4:51. It was his first time under five minutes, and to do that at state was just super."
Prado also ran the 800m and 3200m races, but wasn't able to place after giving his all in the 1600. Teammate Steven Kuykendall qualified for the 1600, but found the competition stiff, with Coach Bell saying "He hung in there."
Ninth-grader Nathan Drebenstedt qualified for the 110m hurdles, but the senior high hurdles are three inches higher than junior high, and he didn't qualify for the finals.
Andrew Hanson won the district meet at 10-6 after just three weeks of learning the event, and was looking forward to the state meet -- until he found out the starting height would be 11-2, eight inches higher than he had ever vaulted.
"He gave it three good tries, but didn't clear the bar," Bell said. There were 24 entered in the event, but just 12 showed up, which accounted for the high starting height.
With several athletes returning for their senior year, and a good crop of ninth-graders moving up into the program, Coach Bell said, "I'm looking forward to working with them next year."