35-year run of state titles started in 1971

Monday, November 21, 2005
Former Green Forest Tiger athlete Neil McCutcheon continued his football career this year at Westminister College (Mo.) and was selected as a first team All-Conference selection as a linebacker in the Upper Midwest Athletic Conference South Division. McCutcheon was the only fresman to make the first team. The Blue Jays finished 5-4, 5-2, and captured a third UMAC South Division title this year. Submitted photo

CARROLL COUNTY -- When the Berryville Bobcat senior boys cross country team won the 2005 state meet in Hot Springs on Nov. 5, the wheels started rolling in the head of former Berryville coach Jack Edens.

"That's their 19th state title," Edens proclaimed proudly the next week. He can be proud, because he started the program back in 1967 and coached the first team to win a cross country state meet.

It's a record surpassed only by Little Rock Central, with 20 titles, and that dates back to 1955, when they won their first one. Their last one was in 1982.

From his memory, Edens recalled the first Bobcat title as being won in 1970 after the team finished runner-up two of three years. But he missed it a year, which he pointed out the next day.

"It was the 1971 team, not the 1970 team that won the first one," Edens said, correcting himself. "That team had Joe Ambrose, Jerry Anderson, Stanley Bunch, former BHS cross country coach Ken Krumwiede, Eric Lynch, Tim Ross and Ronnie Treat."

That victory started a string of seven straight state titles, from 1971 to 1977. They won again in 1981, then had a four year run from 1988 to 1991. The victories started rolling in again from 1996 to 2001, with this year's 2005 state title making 19 in all.

The Lady Bobcats won seven state titles during that time, in 1980, then five years in a row from 1997 to 2002. They were runner-ups by one slim point this year under the direction of Coach Ben Lairamore.

But they weren't the only team in the county to set cross country records. The Eureka Springs Highlanders started their program in 1986, and the boys set a record unequaled by any other school in the state in any classification when they won 10 straight years, from 1986 to 1995, then added an 11th in 1999.

The Lady Highlanders also won five straight state titles, from 1989 to 1993, then added a sixth in 1996.

The long tradition of winning state titles should motivate the runners from both schools to bring another championship home, but especially the Berryville senior boys team.

A win in 2006 would tie them for the most wins of any school in any class. And if that doesn't motivate these sophomores, who could tie the record as juniors, then break it as seniors, who knows what would?

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