By Coach John Allison
Saturday, the Vilonia Cross Country teams traveled to Fayetteville for the largest cross country meet in Arkansas, the annual Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival. There were a total of 58 Vilonia athletes running, 41 of whom achieved personal best times in the 5K distance. These young men and women raced against some of the best cross country teams in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas. All Eagle athletes did a fantastic job representing Vilonia.
The high school boys were led by sophomore JD Otts, who broke the 17-minute barrier for the first time. He crossed the finish line with a time of 16:50 The second Eagle across the line was junior Ethan Janski, who finished the course in 17:37. Jason Rail finished as the third Vilonia scorer with his best time since surgery on his leg last year. Brody Johnson finished fourth for the Eagles, setting a new personal best finish time. Thomas Hutchison crossed the line next as the fifth and final scorer for the team. These were followed by teammates Carson Willhite, Caleb Johnson, Hunter Kelley, Daniel Massa, Gage Helton, and Jace Farrior. Otts, Janski, both Johnsons, Hutchison, Kelley, Massa, Helton and Farrior all earned their personal best times.
High school girls also posted some fantastic performances. Rose McKay led the Lady Eagles across the finish line in 23:07. She was followed by Caroline Wagner with a time of 23:29. Kylee Linton, Sydney Weaver and Abbie Cole were the final three scorers for the high school girls. Jessica Hutchison, Krista Hogan, Madison Loter, Callie Palmer, Kaitlyn Weaver and Macy McKissack also ran great races, Saturday. Hutchison, Hogan, Wagner and both Weavers all ran their personal best 5K times.
The junior high boys ran well with Harrison Janski posting the fastest time, crossing the finish line at 19:21. He was followed by Cade Wagner and Brayden Matyja, who finished in 19:39 and 19:40, respectively. Cordell Palmer came in next, followed by Clayton Jones, the last Vilonia scorer for the team. Only a step behind Jones was Colin Ratliff, the sixth Eagle across the line. Austin Wader, Tyler Kelley, Keller Willhite, Caleb Freeman, Gabriel Goodwin, Matthew Goodwin, Noah McBee, Nathan Freeman, Andy Palmer, Mason Hoover, Ethan Crawley and Lucas Yarbrough all ran well for Vilonia too. Caleb Freeman, Ratliff, Wader, both Goodwins, Janski, Matyja, McBee, both Palmers, Crawley, Hoover, Jones, Wagner and Willhite all set personal records Saturday.
The junior high girls team had another outstanding performance, placing fourth out of 36 teams with five or more finishers. Bryn Westby was the first Lady Eagle to finish the race with a time of 21:09. Lauren Millikin was the next Vilonia athlete to come across in 21:52. Shelby Duncan was next at 22:05, with Allison Ross following 30 seconds later to cross the line at 22:35. Laci McKay completed the scoring five with a time of 23:11. Brooklyn Knight and Emma Buck followed as the sixth and seventh Lady Eagles. Lauren Goodwin, Katie McKay, Alexis Rhodes, Harlee Heath, Mackenzie Floyd, Jorja Bell, Kayla Luck, Olivia Balentine, Evy McKissack, Raven Garrison and Hailey Gibson all did an outstanding job too. Gibson, Heath, Balentine, Bell, Buck, Duncan, Floyd, Goodwin, Knight, McKissack, Rhodes, McKay and Ross all achieved their personal best 5K times.
These amazing young athletes race closer to home in their next meet. They will race, Oct. 15, at Lake Beaverfork in the Wampus Cat Invitational.