Lady Highlander 3rd at A/AA State Meet
HOT SPRINGS -- The Eureka Springs cross country teams made a familiar trip last Saturday to the Class A/AA State Cross Country meet at Oaklawn Park, with the Lady Highlanders' team earning third place behind winner Genoa Central (34 pts.) and runner-up Harding Academy (77 pts.).
Eureka's girls scored 118 points, with sophomore Callie Smith earning All-State honors with a fifth place overall finish in 21:44 over the 3.1-mile course.
The Highlander boys were 13th with 348 points, but fielded one of their youngest teams in memory. Jasper won with 33 points, Acorn was second with 54, and Murfreesboro had 134 in third place.
"Our top four girls had a great race," Coach Hassell Bell said. "Callie was fifth overall, and Brianna Freeman and Erika Wardlaw raced each other to the finish line. Ashley Knapp almost caught them, and they finished 20, 21, 22. Abbie Brown was our fifth runner and finished 67th in 26:33.
"I was real pleased, especially with our two seniors, Ashley and Brianna. Cross country isn't their thing, but they said they'd do it and they did. They put it on the line Saturday.
"I told them to run close and don't save anything because it was their last race. They busted their chops and raced each other to the finish line. It made an old coach warmhearted. I'm pleased with their accomplishment," Bell said.
"Callie ran another great race. She was fifth last year, too, and now is a two-time All-Stater. I'm proud of her. She cut about a minute-and-a-half off last year's time," coach said.
"Erika had a good comeback. She had an ACL repaired in her knee last year, and had an MCL stretch in the middle of the season and she had to kick back some. I marvel she runs so well. She was All-State as a freshman."
As for the boys, Coach Bell said, "We had a bunch of young kids and it was their first time at state. In fact, the Chile Pepper race in October was the first time some of them have run a 5K. They cut a minute to two minutes off their times since that race, so showed improvement."
Girls- Callie Smith- 5th- 21:42; Erika Wardlaw- 20- 24:04; Brianna Freeman- 21- 24:03; Ashley Knapp- 22- 24:04; Abbie Brown- 67- 25:37.
Boys- Eric Harrelson- 59- 21:44; John Overman- 79- 23:08; Andrew Hansen- 84- 23:38; Taylor Anderson- 89- 24:03; Matt Lackey- 95- 24:25; Nathan Drebenstedt- 104- 28:09.