Friday, May 23, 2014

SPORTS STORY>>Heptathlon Top 10 deep with locals

Leader sports editor

Four local competitors finished in the Top 10 of the 2014 high school heptathlon that took place Wednesday and Thursday at Cabot High School. Three Lady Panthers, including Lexi Weeks, Tori Weeks and Danielle McWilliams, and Beebe Lady Badger Madison Richey finished third, fourth, seventh and ninth respectively out of 66 competitors in the seven-event meet.

Payton Stumbaugh of Springdale Har-Ber won it for the second time and set a new heptathlon record with 5,210 points. She also avenged her loss last year to Crossett’s Kelsey Herman. Stumbaugh, a senior who will run for the University of Oklahoma next year, won the heptathlon her in 10th grade while Herman was injured. Herman, who will run for the University of Arkansas next year, won last year and took second this year with 4,956 points.

Lexi Weeks finished with 4,423 points; Tori Weeks was just 42 points behind that with 4,381. Bryant’s Melinda Murdock was fifth. Forrest City’s Dominique Dillard took sixth. Bentonville’s Logan Morton was eighth and Parkview’s Jada Bylark rounded out the Top 10.

The three Cabot entries are all juniors and were the only non-seniors in the Top-10.

McWilliams didn’t run track at all her sophomore year, but came back this season and became a key contributor for the Lady Panthers’ team, which finished fourthin the class 7A state meet and third in the Meet of Champions.

“I didn’t run my sophomore year because I wanted to focus on basketball,” said McWilliams. “But things change. I wanted to come out and try it this year. I really did not expect to place this high at all, so I’m very happy with my performance.”

Richey finished fifth two years ago and 11th last season as a junior. She was happy to be back in the Top 10, but even happier that her total score reflected her improvement.

“My sophomore year was my highest finish, but my lowest point total,” said Richey. “My points have gone up every year so I’m pleased with that. The competition is just getting really strong. There are a lot of talented athletes out here.”

Stumbaugh and Herman had the best marks in two events each, while Des Arc’s Kirby Smith, who finished 14th overall, had best marks in discus and shot put. Melinda Murdock turned in the best time in the 800.

Tori Weeks had the second-best discus throw at 98-4.75, was second fastest in the 800-meter race at 2:21.53 and was the only athlete besides the top two to jump farther than 18-feet in the long jump.

Herman set heptathlon records in the long jump and high jump, going 18-11.25 and 5-9.25 respectively. Stumbaugh won the 100-hurdles and the 200-yard dash.

Lexi Weeks was third best in the hurdles behind the top two, and had the third best time in the 200 and 800.

Cabot could enter as many as five athletes in next year’s heptathlon. Each team is allowed two competitors in addition to any competitor that finished in the Top 10 the previous year.

“The twins, of course, did really well last year,” said Cabot track coach Leon White. “I felt like Danielle had a chance to do really well even if she didn’t know it. I knew she was fast, that’s why I recruited her to come back out and run for us.”

Only one area athlete finished in the Top 10 in the boys’ decathlon. Beebe sophomore Connor Patrom finished eighth with 5,214 points. Rogers-Heritage senior Daniel Spickes won with 6,488 points.

Har-Ber senior Sain-Thomas Mathew was second, Bentonville senior Jordan Patrick third, Hamburg sophomore Lorenzo Watkins fourth, Crossett sophomore Travern Caldwell fifth, Melbourne junior Dalton Romero sixth, NLR senior Clayton Smith seventh, Lake Hamilton junior Donell West ninth and Sheridan senior Tyler Wallace rounded out the Top 10.