By Coach John Allison
Saturday was the best day, weather-wise, of the the year for a cross country race, and our Vilonia Eagles and Lady Eagles took full advantage of the beautiful conditions to make our school and community proud.
Every school is invited to compete in the state meet, but each team is only allowed to enter nine or fewer boys, and nine or fewer girls in their respective races. The young men and women who represented Vilonia Saturday did an outstanding job, and several of their teammates who did not get to race were there to encourage them.
The boys ran first at 12:45 p.m., and finished third in the state. They were picked to finish fifth after losing four seniors who scored for the team, last year. when they were 5A state runner up. They refused to satisfy themselves with fifth and surprised quite a few people, and a couple of other teams, when the final results were in. JD Otts led the Eagles with his seventh place finish in 17:13, which all earned him designation as an All-State athlete. Senior Jason Rail battled back from two years of struggle through injuries for his best finish this year to run second for the Eagles. Ethan Janski was the third Eagle to cross the line. He was followed in by Thomas Hutchison and Kent Luck, who both set new personal records (PR), with their 18:26 and 18:28 finishes. Brody Johnson was next to cross the finish line, followed by Carson Willhite, Caleb Johnson and Hunter Kelley.
At 1:15 p.m., the girls starting pistol fired. After three years in a row taking the third spot at state, the Vilonia Lady Eagles brought home the 5A State Runner Up trophy this year. Freshman Bryn Westby was the first Lady Eagle, and the second place overall finisher in the race, crossing the finish line when the clock read 20:18. She was followed in by her classmates, Lauren Millikin and Laci McKay, who finished in 21:16 and 21:20, respectively. All three of these young ladies earned All-State honors. Junior Abbie Cole was the fourth Lady Eagle to finish, followed by Jessica Hutchison, the final scorer. Westby, McKay, Cole, and Hutchison all set new PRs at the meet. These young ladies were followed in by teammates Caroline Wagner, Krista Hogan, Rose McKay, and Sydney Weaver.
It was a great day and the end of a great season. These young men and women, and all those who could not run at the state meet, worked since May to make this season a success. They ran in heat and humidity that drives most people indoors and sends others to the hospital. Since school started, they arrived at 5:30 in the morning, to run on school days, to get in workouts that are just not possible once the rest of the world is awake. Sixty-eight young men and women donned the Vilonia Cross Country uniform this year, representing the Eagles with style and class.
The 2016 seniors -- Jessica Hutchison, Krista Hogan, Madison Loter, Mary Beth McKay, Kara Moore, Shannon Reifowitz, Jason Rail, and Carson Willhite -- will definitely be missed. We wish them the very best in the future and are very grateful for their leadership and hard work.