Cross Country News

Great Mud Run at Chile Pepper for Cross Country Teams

The weather looked rough when the bus left Vilonia High School early Saturday morning on the way to the Chile Pepper Cross Country Festival, Arkansas' largest annual cross country meet. The clouds never parted, but the rain did stop when the buses turned north on I-49, and never started again until they were headed south after all the races were finished. The kids ran on a sloppy, muddy course. A few shoes came off midrace. But they did not have a deluge to deal with.

More than 120 teams from at least six states competed on the University of Arkansas Razorbacks' home cross country course in college, high school, and junior high races. The Vilonia Eagles and Lady Eagles were there and did an outstanding job to represent our community well.

The Vilonia High School Lady Eagles placed 4th among Arkansas teams competing at the meet, behind Bentonville, Rogers, and Fayetteville. Close behind the Lady Eagles were the Siloam Springs Lady Panthers. The Lady Panthers were 6A state champions last year and join the Lady Eagles in the new 5A West conference this year. The two teams are so closely matched, they should make things interesting the rest of the season. Scorers for your Lady Eagles were Bryn Westby (11), Lauren Millikin (11), Shelby Duncan (10), Katelynn Ohlde (10), and Laci McKay (11). Displacers were Emma Buck (10) and Evy McKissack (10). McKissack and Harlee Heath (11) both set new personal records at the meet.

The VHS Eagles placed 9th among Arkansas teams, behind Bentonville, Fayetteville, Springdale Har Ber, Conway, Rogers, Lake Hamilton, Bryant, and Maumelle. That places your Eagles 3rd among Arkansas 5A teams at the meet, Lake Hamilton and Maumelle, both of whom won state championships in cross country last year in the old 6A and 5A classifications, respectively. Scorers for the Eagles were JD Otts (12), Harrison Janski (10), Tate Smithhart (10), Daniel Massa (12), and Gabriel Goodwin (10). Brayden Matyja (10) and Jeremiah Lowrance (12) finished sixth and seventh for the Eagles to serve as displacers. Janski, Smithhart, Goodwin, Gage Helton (12), Nathan Freeman (11), and Chris York (11) all set personal records Saturday.

Junior High teams ran a 5K at Chile Pepper, instead of their usual two mile race. Therefore, all 7th grade athletes, and first year junior high athletes in cross country, ran their first 5K and set personal records for the distance.

The Vilonia Junior High Lady Eagles finished 19th out of 39 scoring teams at the meet. Kaci Buck (8), Carly Eary (8), Katie McKay (9), Baelin Shannon (8), and Payton Hawkins (7) scored for the Lady Eagles. Displacers were Jaslynn McReynolds (7) and Avery Martin (9). Buck, Eary, McKay, Shannon, and Emily Larocca (8) all beat their previous personal records.

The Vilonia Junior High Eagles finished 15th out of 46 scoring teams. Cade Smithhart (8), Cade Wagner (9), Clayton Jones (9), Jones White (8), and Keller Willhite (9) scored for the Eagles. Caleb Hogue (7) and Mason Westby (9) served as displacers. Smithhart, Jones, White, Willhite, Westby, and Ethan Crawley (9) all set new personal records Saturday.

Your Vilonia Cross Country teams are back in action next Saturday in Russellville, running on the beautiful Arkansas Tech University campus. High school girls race at 9:15, followed by high school boys, junior high girls, and junior high boys, with each race beginning at approximately 30 minute intervals.

Evan BeaversVHS, FA, VMS