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Wildcats finish second in cross country meet

by Tony Burns | September 17, 2023 at 7:15 p.m.

El Dorado finished second Saturday in the Arkansas National Guard Be Your Best Cross Country Meet, which was held in North Little Rock. West Memphis won the senior boys division with 38 followed by the Wildcats (58), North Little Rock (72), Flames Homeschool (99), Parkview (130), Conway St. Joseph (152), Lonoke 167) and Malvern (235).

Junior Zachary McMillon was the individual winner, running the 5K in a time of 17:41.0.

“Difficult course, very challenging course. We really thought Zach was going to be pushed,” said El Dorado coach John Koonce. “There were a couple guys in there who had put down some times that were comparable to his. He was the favorite but there was a guy who was 10 seconds off of him. Another guy was 20 seconds off of him. They just weren’t able to stay with him.”

El Dorado’s Riley Dumas was sixth (19:11.1) and Charlie Conner finished eighth (20:05.6).

“Very happy with those three. For us to be better as a team, our four and five guys need to get closer to them. They’re working. They’re getting there. They’re just not there, yet. That’s what it’s going to take for us to get to that next level.

“We really wanted to win the meet. We thought we had a good chance at it. West Memphis had a good day and our four and five guys, the split was just too far behind our three guy for us to overcome.”

Jake Dilworth (23rd), Eli Rodriguez (41st), Aaron Yarbrough (52nd) and Alex Sullivent (59th) were among the rest of the Wildcats’ runners.

Parkers Chapel’s Jordis Battisto finished 53rd.

Both of El Dorado’s senior girls finished in the top 10. Corin Melear was ninth with a time of 25:16.7 and Ainsley Colvin was 10th with a time of 25:21.1.

“Very happy with them. Ainsley was projected the number 17 runner coming in. Corin was projected the number 13 runner coming. For both of them to get in the top 10 says a lot about the training they’ve been doing and how hard they’ve been running,” said Koonce.

“Corin came out very strong. She was in the top five but then she turned her ankle. But she maintained enough to still get a medal and finish well. I would’ve liked to have seen what she could’ve done if that hadn’t happened but that’s the sport of cross country.”

El Dorado won the junior high boys title over Pulaski Academy and North Little Rock. Logan Nutt was 15th followed by Caleb Digby (17th), Bayron Henriquez (19th), Oscar Garcia (20th), Justin Obiozo (25th), Jackson Smith (34th), Eric Flores (39th), Ignacio Chavez (43rd) and Jonathan Gomez (45th).

Top runner Julian Marquez did not compete. The Wildcats were also victimized by some miscommunication at the start line and fell behind 30 to 50 meters to start the race.

“We preached to the guys that we still believe in the depth that we had to still win the meet,”  Koonce said. “With what happened, down our number one guy, to still win the meet against tough competition is something to be happy about.”

El Dorado’s junior girls finished third behind North Little Rock and Conway St. Joseph. Seventh grader Jane Wilson finished 11th followed by Abri White (15th), Eliana Rodriguez (30th), Abigail Mitchell (36th) and Sarahi Rodriguez (40th).

“The junior girls have been the most improved team from the start of the season until now. We were happy with them,” said Koonce.

Parkers Chapel’s Alejandra Pichardo finished 22nd with Kylie Lawson placing 45th.

El Dorado will run in the Lakeside Rams Invitational on Tuesday.


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