A thumbs up to the Vilonia Running Eagles on Saturday meet

By Coach John Allison

The short drive to a meet in Faulkner County gave the Eagles a rare chance to sleep in on Saturday. It was perfect weather for running, Saturday, when the Vilonia Cross Country teams headed to Conway for the Wampus Cat Invitational. The Vilonia athletes took advantage of the great weather and ran extremely well.

The Vilonia High School Lady Eagles kicked the show off at 9 a.m. The ladies had a great race. Sophomore, Caroline Wagner, was the first to cross the finish line in 22:47, a big personal record (PR) and her first time to break the 23 minute barrier. Senior Jessica Hutchison was next to finish for the Lady Eagles, with another huge PR, beating her previous best by a full minute. She finished the race in 23:13. Senior Mary Beth McKay had her best race of the year, finishing next in 23:34. She was followed immediately by senior Krista Hogan, who beat her previous best time by a minute and a half, crossing the line in 23:36. The final scorer for the Lady Eagles was Rose McKay. Sydney Weaver, Abbie Cole, Kara Moore, Callie Palmer, Faith Johnson, Madison Loter, and Macy McKissack also had great races for the Lady Eagles.

The Eagles’ High School Men’s team ran next and also made a great showing. Sophomore JD Otts and junior Ethan Janski both finished in the top twenty runners to earn medals. They were followed by Brody Johnson, who set yet another PR at 18:14. Jason Rail was next, with Carson Willhite and Kent  Luck rounding out the Eagles’ scoring at the meet. Thomas Hutchison, Hunter Kelley, and Daniel Massa were only a few steps behind Luck. Caleb Johnson and Jace Farrior were next to cross the line for the Eagles.

The Junior Lady Eagles were next to race and, as usual, made their presence known. The course was a little shorter than their typical two-mile course, so it is difficult to compare their times with other races. But points are what matter in cross country meets, and these girls dominated in that department. Low score wins in cross country and the next closest team had more than three times the Lady Eagles’ point total. Bryn Westby, Lauren Millikin, Shelby Duncan, Laci McKay, and Emma Buck took the top five Lady Eagle spots to score for the team. All five of these ladies finished in the top 15 at the race. They were followed in by Allison Ross, Brooklyn Knight, Lauren Goodwin, Jorja Bell, Harlee Heath, Mackenzie Floyd, Katie McKay, Evy McKissack, Kayla Luck, Olivia Balentine, Aubrey Lock, and Hailey Gibson also had great performances to represent Vilonia.

The fourth and final race of the day saw the Vilonia Junior High Eagles run extremely well. In a fashion we have become accustomed to seeing this season, less than 30 seconds separated the top five Eagle runners. Braden Matyja, Chase Hawkins, Cordell Palmer, Harrison Janski, and Cade Wagner all scored for the team. They were backed up by Tyler Kelley, Colin Ratliff, Austin Wader, Clayton Jones, Keller Willhite, Gabriel Goodwin, Caleb Freeman, Nathan Freeman, Matthew Goodwin, Noah McBee, Mason Hoover, Ethan Crawley, and Lucas Yarbrough.

Next Saturday, the Vilonia Cross Country teams travel to Hot Springs for the Lake Hamilton Invitational. This will be the last regular season meet of the year. The Eagles, Oct. 31,  will host the 5A West Conference XC Meet at Lake Beaverfork in Conway.