The Vilonia Eagles cross country teams opened their season Saturday at the Minuteman Invitational in Little Rock. Fifty-nine athletes, grades 7-12, represented Vilonia in the race with temperatures unexpectedly high and under a blazing sun.
The high school boys team finished sixth in the field of 23 teams with at least five runners. The top five finishers scoring for Vilonia were JD Otts, Ethan Janski, Jason Rail, Brody Johnson, and Thomas Hutchison. They were followed by Carson Willhite, Caleb Johnson, Hunter Kelley, Daniel Massa, and Luke Mikeal. Both Johnsons, Kelley, and Massa all set personal records (PR) for the 5K distance.
The VHS Lady Eagles placed seventh out of 20 teams. Scoring for the Lady Eagles were Kylee Linton, Shannon Reifowitz, Caroline Wagner, Abbie Cole, and Faith Johnson. They were backed up by Krista Hogan, Rose McKay, Kara Moore, Mary Beth McKay, Callie Palmer, Madison Loter, and Macy McKissack. Johnson set her 5K PR at the meet.
The third race of the day saw the Junior High boys on a two-mile course. Nineteen schools fielded full teams of five in this race and the Eagles finished fifth. Scoring for the junior high boys were Harrison Janski, Cordell Palmer, Tate Smithhart, Brayden Matyja, and Cade Wagner, with less than fifteen seconds separating the first and fifth place at the finish line. Clayton Jones, Chase Hawkins, Colin Ratliff, Tyler Kelley, Caleb Freeman, Keller Willhite, Nathan Freeman, Andy Palmer, Gabriel Goodwin, Noah McBee, Matthew Goodwin, Mason Hoover, Austin Wader, and Ethan Crawley. Earning their PRs at the race were Freeman, Ratliff, both Goodwins, Janski, Matyja, McBee, both Palmers, Crawley, Hoover, Jones, Wagner, and Willhite all set PRs.
Racing last, but finishing first among 15 full teams were the Junior High Lady Eagles. Five girls in the overall top 20 finishers yielded a team score of 47, scarcely more than half the score of the second place team! Scoring for the girls were Bryn Westby, Shelby Duncan, Lauren Millikin, Emma Buck, and Laci McKay. Then came Allison Ross, Brandie Rottman, Lauren Goodwin, Harlee Heath, MacKenzie Floyd, Alexis Rhodes, Katie McKay, Aubrey Lock, Olivia Balentine, Evy McKissack, Kayla Luck, Raven Garrison, and Hailey Gibson. Jorja Bell also finished, but the timing system failed to record her time. Earning PRs at the meet were Gibson, Heath, Buck, Floyd, Goodwin, Rottman, Lock, Katie McKay, and Ross.
It was a great start to the season with greater times to come.
The Eagles race again on Tuesday, September 13, in Heber Springs at the Josh Park Invitational.