Saturday, October 31, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Beebe boys take first in Central XC

Leader sports editor

The very first cross-country meet ever held at the Greens at North Hills in Sherwood was also Badger Gus McCoy’s first-ever conference championship. The junior Badger led a foursome of Beebe runners across the finish line to win the 5A-Central Conference meet, and help the Badger boys earn the team title on Thursday.

On a perfect day of sunshine and temperature in the upper 60s, McCoy didn’t run the race he had planned on, but was still more than 30 seconds ahead of the rest of the field when he crossed the finish line in 17:27.33.

“This race was a lot different,” said McCoy. “A lot of races I’m packed in. I planned on hanging back because I knew a lot of the other teams like to be in front. So I decided to lay back and set my pace and eventually I was going to try to win it. But I was loose by the half-mile mark, so this was a lot different.

“It feels amazing. Last year I got runner-up a few times in cross country and track. So it feels great to finally be No. 1.”

Following McCoy in the second through fourth spots were his teammates Dayton McClean, John Paul Savage and Sean Langley. Cole Evans also medaled for the Badgers; finishing ninth to aid Beebe’s dominant team win.

Beebe finished with 19 points. Pulaski Academy’s Brad Switzer and Robert Crain were fifth and sixth, but the Jacksonville Red Devils edged out the Bruins for second place in the team standings.

Jacksonville finished with 54 points, led by Malcolm Nelson’s and Colton Barker’s seventh and eighth place finishes, to Pulaski Academy’s 56 points.

PA won the girls’ event with Beebe finishing second. The Lady Bruins swept the top three spots with Beebe taking the next three.

PA and Beebe swept the entire top-10 medalists, each team placing five runners in the medal field.

Emily Leding won the race with a time of 19:45.02. Beebe’s Taylor McGraw, Allison Strayhorn and Annmarie Covington finished fourth, fifth and sixth. Natalie Childress was eighth for the Lady Badgers and Marianna Richey finished 10th.

“They exceeded my expectations,” said Beebe coach Cari Rector. “I thought we may have a chance at winning (the boys’ race) but I did not expect 1, 2, 3, 4. They’re great kids. Dayton McClean especially came out of nowhere and decided he was going to really show out and run.”

Sylvan Hills took third in the girls’ race with Gabriella Marquez and Dallyn Stubbs finishing 12th and 13th.

In the boys’ race, Sylvan Hills Deuntrae Clingmon finished seventh and Jacksonville’s Wesley Williams was the final medalist with a 10th place finish.

The state meet will be held next Saturday, Nov. 7 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. McCoy’s time is well off the fastest times this year, run mostly by athletes in the 5A-West, but Rector believes the Beebe boys can make some noise in the meet.

“Harrison is running really fast times and so is Little Rock Christian and Vilonia,” Rector said. “I think we can run some PRs (personal records). They have progressed throughout the year, and I don’t think they’ve peaked yet. I’m expecting that from a lot of them next week.”