Bobcats run away with 1-4A Conference crown
BERRYVILLE -- The Berryville Bobcats claimed the 1-4A Conference cross country title Saturday on their home course with a 1-2-3 punch from Oliver Perez, Andrew Galacia and Elijah Smith.
Perez finished nearly two minutes ahead of the field in his quest for a 4A state championship with a time of 17:30 while Galacia finished at 19:11 and Smith turned a time of 19:18.
The Bobcats finished with 18 points, well ahead of second place Pea Ridge at 57 points.
"I thought we could have a perfect score there for a while," Berryville coach Andrew Killingsworth said. "We were running 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 at one point. A couple of guys from Pea Ridge broke up our score. But to score low like that is such a special thing."
Gentry finished third, Ozark placed fourth and Prairie Grove placed fifth.
Luke Mock finished fifth with a time of 19:45, Brian Maldonado was seventh at 19:57, Dylan Holman eighth at 20:01, Brandon Lopez 10th at 20:12 and Jacob Johnson 12th at 20:31.
"The guys really competed well," Killingsworth said. "They positioned themselves well early in the race and finished strong. I was particularly impressed with Brian and Luke. They really competed and got in under 20 minutes. Without them we wouldn't have finished as strong."
Galacia, a freshman, was moved up to the varsity team after competing at the junior varsity level during the season.
"He did an amazing job," Killingsworth said. "He was All-Conference and lettered as a freshman."
The Bobcats run one final time before the state meet in Hot Springs at Oaklawn Horse Park on Nov. 9. Killingsworth will take the top performers to compete at state.
"The race tomorrow at Rogers will decide who goes," he said. "They are running to go to state. They are competing to get on that bus headed to state."
Perez placed third in last year's event. Killingsworth said Perez would have to improve on his personal best of 16:40 to overtake last year's winners time of 16:37.
"He will have to run a personal best in the low 16's," Killingsworth said. "He ran 17:24 last year and a kid from Valley View ran a 16:37 to win last year. That competition is still there. None of those guys have graduated. We will see who worked hardest this year."
Killingsworth said two teams are directly in his sights.
"We have two schools to really watch," he said. "Heber Springs is going to be stout. We will have to all run amazing races to get close to them. Next is Maumelle. They kind of came out of nowhere. They will be at Rogers (today). They are within our reach. This will be a good litmus test to see where we are."
Perez, Galicia, Smith, Mock, Maldonado, Holman and Lopez received All-Conference accolades.
The Lady Bobcats finished as conference runner-up with freshman Ali Depew finishing fourth to lead the girls. Depew turned in a time of 23:38 to finish behind three Ozark competitors. Ozark won the event with 36 points while Berryville was second with 47, Pea Ridge third with 62 and Gentry fourth with 79.
"We have quite a few girls involved in volleyball right now," Killingsworth said. "About half the team showed up Saturday and it was huge to finish second. Last year the girls were not even a blip on the radar. It shows how talented and dedicated these girls are."
Misty Rhymer finished seventh with a time of 24:30, Kayla Gonzalez 10th at 24:53, Melanie Beristain 11th at 24:53, Gail Cisco 15th at 25:31, Anastasia Dudin 21st at 26:43, Ashleigh McCullough 23rd at 27:47 and Margie Tom 24th at 27:56.
"Volleyball will be over this week and we will be preparing for state," Killingsworth said. "I think we will do better than last year. With Allie Depew moving up to senior high we are going to give it our best shot."
The Lady Cats finished fifth overall at Oaklawn last year.
Rhymer and Depew were selected All-Conference after the meet.