TEXARKANA - The cross country season kicked off Saturday with the Warrior Invitational, hosted by Trinity Christian. It was a stellar beginning for a pair of area teams. El Dorado’s boys and Parkers Chapel’s girls both finished fourth in their respective divisions.
Parkers Chapel’s Ali Looney led the individual results, finishing ninth in the varsity girls division with a time of 23:44.53.
“They changed up the course lay out there this year, so it was a little different than what I expected,” Looney said. “But, I am satisfied with my performance for my first meet of the year.”
DeQueen won the girls title with 34 followed by Genoa Central (53), Texas High (70), Parkers Chapel (103) and Magnolia (115).
El Dorado’s boys scored 77 to place behind DeQueen (44), Ouachita (70) and Texas High (77) and ahead of Genoa Central (100), Magnolia (145) and Nashville (187).
“This was a very good day for the Wildcats,” said Coach John Koonce. “I feel like every runner performed to or exceeded expectations. I told the kids coming in that it was a very strong field of runners that we would be competing in and this meet was going to be a good measuring stick for where we are and where we need to go.”
John David Halstead led the Wildcats with a 10th place finish with a time of 18:49.69. Hudson McDiarmid, Jadon Cunningham and Brooks Coan also posted top 20 finishes. McDiarmid was 15th (19:21.19), Cunningham 16th (19:23.38) and Coan 19th (19:54.79).
“Our front three of JD, Hudson, and Jadon stayed strong throughout the race,” said Koonce. “Brooks had a very strong finish. He picked off a lot of kids in the back half.”
Jaland Upshaw (20:00.47), Hayden McDiarmid (20:21.35), Eloy Rodriguez (20:52.45), Ruben Berrequin (21:18.57), Collin Taylor (22:00.82), Hunter Meeks (23:18.23), Ian Hernandez (23:57.24), Braden Griffen (24:45.57) rounded out the El Dorado runners.
Parkers Chapel’s boys were led by Korbin McAuliffe (22:55.83), Spencer Frisby (23:35.03) and Thomas Hardy (25:24.69).
In the varsity girls, the Lady Trojans’ Jana Avery twisted her ankle early in the race and would later fall after colliding with another runner but still finished 21st with a time of 25:03.29. The rest of PC’s girls included Madison Sullivan (28:30.84), Kenlee McAuliffe (29:38.07), Drue Thomas (30:17.55) and Taylor Fortune (37.21.47).
Melanie Miller led El Dorado’s girls, finishing 23rd with a time of 25:12.54. Laura Farris had a time of 32:52.50.
“We were missing a few runners in the varsity girls division today for various reasons but I was pleased with Melanie and Laura’s performance,” said Koonce. “They are both sophomores and this was the first time that either of them have competed at the 5k distance. They both competed to the best of their ability.”
Austin Richard led El Dorado’s junior boys, finishing 22nd with a time of 11:00.50. He was followed on the team by Nic Harvey (11:15.81), Edwin Gonzalez (12:04.39) and Lex Nash (14:19.48).
“I’m excited to watch the junior high boys grow throughout the year,” said Koonce. “They are a very young group.”
Smackover’s junior boys were led by Evan Phillips (15:24.95), Brennan Holland (17:50.53) and Hank Griffin (24:09.00).
Addy Taylor paced the Jr. Lady Wildcats, finishing 12th with a time of 12:36.15. Alexa Dewey was 19th with a time of 13:26.62 with Hope Walthall 21st (13:40.72) and Haven Margis 26th (13:54.45). They were followed by Aubree Ezell (14:37.59), Katelyn Hayden (15:54.41), Mary Claire Parker (15:54.12), Sara May (16:02.23) and Mason Halstead (17:29.34).
“Addy Taylor lead a strong third place finish for the junior girls. She is our returning leader and I was proud of her run,” said Koonce. “Freshman Alexa Dewey really performed better than I expected her to. I believe she is going to have a very strong season. Returning eighth grader Hope Walthall has had a very good month of practice and it showed with a solid result today. Seventh graders Haven Margis and Aubree Ezell rounded out our top 5. You obviously expect them to grow leaps and bounds this year since they are so young.”
Smackover’s junior girls were led by Gretchen Gordwin (15:48.04) followed by Abby Brewer (17:34.88), Autumn Howard (17:45.21), Iesha Adair (17:53.10), Brooklyn Johnston (19:02.43) and Jada Lewis (19:17.12).