Friday, April 04, 2014

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers getting stronger

Leader sports editor

The Cabot boys’ and girls’ track teams each finished second in the Walmart Invitational at Panther Stadium on Tuesday. Each team finished second to Bryant, but the girls’ team continued to break school records. After last week when several school records fell, the Lady Panthers broke another record on Tuesday when junior Lexi Weeks sailed 18-feet, 2.75 inches in the long jump.

The record broken was her own. She set the previous mark the previous week with a jump of 17-10.5.

That is just the latest in a list of school records that have been broken by this year’s girls’ team. Cabot coach Leon White believes he has one of the strongest teams at CHS in many years.

“It could be a really good team,” White said. “There’s certainly a lot of potential. We’re sort of shooting for next year because they’re almost all juniors and sophomores. But you never know. They’re getting better every week it seems like.”

The difference between last week’s jump and Tuesday’s wasn’t just the distance. Despite breaking the school record last week, Weeks finished second to North Little Rock’s Malica Monk. With Tuesday’s distance, she beat Monk for the first time in her career, by 2.75 inches.

Weeks hoisted herself into the national spotlight in Bryant on March 20 when she cleared 13-feet, 10-inches, which is the highest girls’ high-school vault of the year, and third highest in history.

Her sister Tori Weeks is also ranked in the top-10 nationally with a vault of 13-2 in the same meet.

Not surprisingly, they finished first and second in the pole vault on Tuesday. They didn’t quite approach the levels of the Bryant meet, but still blew away the rest of the field with vaults of 13-2 and 12-8.

Lexi Weeks also won the 400-meter dash and finished as the meet’s high-points earner. Tori Weeks also won the 300-meter hurdles by a wide margin, beating Bryant’s Jayla Anderson by almost three full seconds and was close to making it a hurdle sweep, but lost by 15/100ths of a second to Bryant’s Melinda Murdock with a time of 15.76 seconds. She was also second behind Bryant’s Leah Ward in the triple jump by a slim margin. Tori bounded 35-7, losing by 2.75 inches to Ward.

Lady Panther senior Rachel Hall was fourth in the 300 hurdles. Miranda Walker finished seventh to give the Lady Panthers two more points in the event. She was also tied for fourth in the high jump for four more points.

Junior Micah Huckabee dominated the 1600-meter run. She beat Mount St. Mary sophomore Alex Ritchey by nine seconds in the mile. Sophomore Samantha Nickell took third in the 3200-meter run for six more points.

Sophomore Katie Wright was third and senior Lauren Backus eighth in the shot put.

Senior Courtney Briswalter took fifth in the 400 to give Cabot 14 points in the event.

Juniors Danielle McWilliams and Ladaysha Evans finished fifth and sixth in the 100-meter dash. Sophomore Ashley Odom took sixth in the 800.

The Cabot 4x100 relay team was one of the favorites, but failed to finish. The 4x400 team of Briswalter, McWilliams, Walker and Lexi Weeks took second behind the Lady Hornets. The 4x800 team of Odom, Nickell, Emily Dey and Ashley Gore also finished second to Bryant.

The Cabot boys have suffered a lot of attrition this season, especially in the distance events. That’s the left the team strength at the sprints, where seniors Jordan Burke and Layton Alley finished third and fourth respectively in 100-meter dash. Alley was also seventh in the 200, which was won by Searcy’s Karonce Higgins.

Junior Jalen Hemphill and senior A.J. McClean took sixth and seventh in the 400. Junior Brayden Mercantel took seventh in the 800 and junior Nick Davis was sixth in the 3200.

Seniors Hayden Richey and Caleb Duerkop took fifth and sixth in the 300 hurdles and sophomore Rocky Burke took fifth in the pole vault.

Sophomore Holdyn Barnes was fifth in the long jump and seventh in the triple jump.

Seniors Aaron Henry and Keith Pledger finished third and seventh respectively in the shot put while three Panthers placed in the discus throw. Brandon Jones finished second with a toss of 133-8, Heath Pledger finished fourth and Henry seventh.