Friday, April 26, 2013

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers just seven points short

Leader sportswriter

Seven points was the difference for the Cabot Lady Panthers at Thursday’s 7A Central Conference track meet at Fort Smith Southside.

The Lady Panthers came close to capturing the league title, but fell just short with 140 points to winner Fort Smith Southside’s 147 points. North Little Rock was a distant third with 109 points, followed by Little Rock Central and Mount St. Mary.

“It was a really good meet for the girls,” Cabot track coach Leon White said. “There were a couple of events where we didn’t do as well as we thought we would, and that came back and hurt us at the end. We felt like we had a chance. They had a good effort and tried hard, but we just came up a little short.”

Sprint events were the Achilles heel for Cabot, but sophomore Lexi Weeks turned in a good performance in the 400-meter dash with a second-place overall time of 59.66. Weeks also finished fifth in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.87, and finished fourth in the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 16.95. Weeks capped off her strong performance with a second-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 48.60. Junior Rochelle Mallory also qualified for state in the event, finishing fourth with a time of 50.31.

Sophomore Micah Huckabee finished third in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:29.11, and led a Cabot-dominated 1,600-meter run with a first-place time of 5:35.72, while senior Marlene Sheehan finished third in the event with a 5:39.89. Senior Meagan Duncan also qualified for state in the event with a sixth-place time of 6:01.25.

The Lady Panthers long-distance runners were not able to win the 3,200-meter event, but did sweep second through fourth with Sheehan leading the way in second with a time of 12:25.11 in front of Duncan’s third-place time of 13:00.33. Huckabee finished fourth with a 13:10.54 time.

The girls 4X100-meter relay team of Ladaysha Evans, Miranda Walker, Rachael Hall and Mallory grabbed the final state-qualifying spot in that event with a sixth-place time of 51.83.

Evans and Mallory joined Tori Weeks and Lexi Weeks in the 4X400-meter relay to finish second with a time of 4:09.22. For the 4X800-meter relay, it was the team of Ashley Gore, Seaton Howard, Sheehan and Duncan with a third-place finish of 10:35.66.

Lexi and Tori Weeks put twins’ power to work in the pole vault, sweeping the top two spots. Lexi took first and Tori finished second with both clearing 12 feet, with the next best height an 8-4 from Fort Smith Northside’s Madeline Hanna. Evans was fourth for Cabot with a 7-6/

Lexi Weeks also finished second in the long jump with a distance of 17-6.75, while sister Tori took fifth in the triple jump with a 35-3.75.

The Panther boys track team finished seventh overall with 37 points. North Little Rock won the event with 175 points while Conway was runner up with 119 points and Little Rock Catholic a close third with 113 points.

Cabot senior John Sowden finished fifth in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:05.61, while junior Hayden Richey took fifth in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.33. The 4X100 relay team of Layton Alley, Zach Lanius, Seth Hoggard and Hempfield finished fifth with a time of 44.65. Sowden, Hoggard and Lanius joined Caleb Duerkop in the 4X400-meter relay to grab the final state-qualifying spot with a sixth-place time of 3:37.06.

Sowden was also part of the 4X800-meter relay team along with Clay Killingsworth, Dylan Ball and Riley Hillegas as part of a third-place finish with an 8:40.30 time.

Senior Peter Seyler qualified for state in the high jump with a height of 5-8 while junior Heath Pledger took fifth in the discus with a distance of 132-8 as the only two Cabot participants to qualify for state in field events.

Though a close second for the girls was somewhat of a letdown, White noted that the majority of the girls’ team are underclassmen, and will return next year.

“We’re not strong enough to win state, but we will have enough to have a good showing,” White said. “We’re a young team for the most part, so we feel like there’s going to be a chance to build a good team that can compete at that level next year.”

SPORTS STORY >> Badgers win conference track crown

Leader sports editor

The Beebe boys track team became the 5A East Conference champions on Thursday, edging out meet host Greene County Tech by 9 ½ points 137.83 to 128.33. The Badgers qualified several events for state, with a few that Beebe coach Mark Pinkerton believes has a real shot at bringing home state titles.

“A.J. Christianson has the second best high jump in the state going into the state meet,” Pinkerton said.

Beebe’s 800-meter relay team is very strong, and three of those runners Pinkerton believes has a chance to win it all in the 800-meter race.

“Our 4x800 team really has a good chance,” Pinkerton said. “Hunter Plante, John Diaz and Jake Schlenker all have a chance to win the 800.”

Those three plus Connor Patrom make up the 4x800 team. Patrom is also on the state qualifying 4x400 team with Keishun Green, Alex Smith and Marcus Burns, though Patrom is the only one to qualify in the same individual event.

Jared Gowen will compete in the discus while William Peterson and Tripp Smith advance to state in the 300-meter hurdles.

Christianson went 6-0 in the high jump to win by two inches on Nettleton’s Justin Harris. Patrom won the 400-meter race by a tenth of a second over John Williams of Forrest City while Green finished eighth.

He finished in 51.29. Diaz won the 800 with a time of 2:06.39 while Plante and Schlenker took third and fourth.

Batesville’s Sam Scaggs was second. It was Diaz, Schlenker then Plante coming in second, third and fourth in the 1600-meter, just behind winner Danny Moss of GCT.

Allen Kirk took third and Schlenker fifth in the 3200. Tripp Smith earned the team four points in the 110-meter hurdles with a fifth-place finish while Peterson was seventh.

Brandon Lercher and Jackson Snelson took fifth and sixth in the pole vault with vaults of 11-6 and 10-6. Christianson went 40-5 for third place in the triple jump while Jesse Crisco joined Gowen in the points in the discus with a fifth-place throw. Gowen’s toss ot 134-11 was good for second place.

The qualifying Badgers will compete Thursday, May 2 at Hot Springs High School.

SPORTS STORY >> Bears swept by PA, fall to third

Leader sportswriter

With the conference championship and seeding at stake, Sylvan Hills lost both of Wednesday’s 5A-Central Conference doubleheader games against Pulaski Academy, losing 9-3 in game one and 10-3 in game two at the Sherwood Sports Complex.

The Bears were the No. 1 team in the conference standings before Wednesday’s doubleheader, and with the losses, they’re now No. 3 in the standings as postseason play draws near.

“They just beat us,” said Sylvan Hills coach Denny Tipton afterwards. “They beat us. Tonight they were the better team. Hat’s off to them. They hit the ball and played defense, and we didn’t play our best. They handed it to us at our place and we had to take it.”

Sylvan Hills (13-10, 7-3) struck first in game one as leadoff hitter T.J. Burrow scored in the bottom of the first inning, but Pulaski Academy (14-10, 8-2) answered with nine unanswered runs before the home team scored its final two in the sixth inning, which set the final score.

Lawson Vassar earned the win on the hill as he threw all seven innings. He gave up seven hits, recorded three strikeouts, and walked just one batter. J.D. Miller took the loss for Sylvan Hills on the mound. He struck out five batters, walked four, and gave up seven hits and five runs before being relieved by Connor Poteet after the fifth inning.

The Bruins wasted no time putting runs on the board in game two, scoring three runs in the first inning. The Bears, the visiting team for the second game, responded with all three of their runs in the top of the second inning, which cut the deficit to one.

Brandon Baioni started the inning with a double down the third baseline. Jacob White followed with an infield single to shortstop, and Hunter Heslep drove in Baioni the next at bat with a line-drive single through the left-field gap.

Hayden Hawkins advanced White and Blake Maddox, Heslep’s courtesy runner, with a sacrifice bunt the next at bat, and White scored on a single to straight centerfield by Reid Fawcett. Maddox scored later in the inning on a ground ball to shortstop by Burrow.

Pulaski Academy all but put the game away in the bottom of the fourth with a two out, bases-clearing triple down the first baseline by Vassar. Vassar scored during the play on an errant throw to third base.

Junior Bruin pitcher Colin Castleberry kept the Bears at bay for the remainder of the game, and Pulaski Academy scored its final two runs in the sixth inning to set the final score.

“If we’d a won, you know, we were the one (seed),” Tipton said, frustrated. “If we split we were the two. We got swept so we’re the three. We’ve got to work on everything. We’ve got to do everything.”

Castleberry picked up the win on the mound in game two. He threw all seven innings and recorded 10 strikeouts without giving up a single walk. The Bears totaled six hits against Castleberry, but had more fly outs than they did hits.

Baioni and White had two hits apiece in game two. Heslep and Fawcett had the other two for Sylvan Hills. Pulaski Academy totaled eight hits in the second game. Vassar had three of those hits, as well as a game-high six RBIs.

SPORTS STORY >> Falcons get the rivalry victory

Leader sportswriter

It was a conference victory and rivalry-win-all in the same outing for North Pulaski as the Falcons defeated Jacksonville 3-1 at Falcon Stadium on Thursday.

The Falcons scored two goals in the first half to lead 2-0 at the break, and answered the only Jacksonville goal with seven minutes left to play to secure the victory in a match where possession time was essentially split down the middle between the two clubs. With the victory, the Falcons improved to 6-4 overall and 5-4 in the 5A Central Conference.

“That’s good stuff, it’s nice when you’re on the good end of it,” North Pulaski coach Jeff Osborn said. “It’s a cross-town rival, and we swept them this season, so it makes it that much sweeter. Not only that, this game was especially sweet because we’re missing some players. We had 12 players today, so it was ironman.”

North Pulaski got on the board six minutes in when Alex Edwards assisted Ulysses Arres for a close-range goal that gave the Falcons an early 1-0 lead. Edwards also set up the next North Pulaski score when his corner kick met the head of teammate Jacob Deweese in the 28th minute.

The Red Devils broke through the NP defense with a midfield attack led by seniors Damitrious Ervin and Erwin Hernandez, but the Falcons had senior power of their own defensively in the form of goalkeeper Conner Thamen, who also served as a vocal leader on the field for North Pulaski along with a number of key stops on goal.

“He’s a senior, and basically, he’s been playing keeper every year,” Osborn said. “He’s like a ball of fire. He’s very intense, and he’s kind of like a field general. He directs the defense on what to do. He’s got vision, and he plays hard, he plays tough. He’s still learning, even this late in his high-school career. He’s very vocal, he communicates well, and that’s what I expect from him.”

The Red Devils cut the margin to one early in the second half when senior Tyler Davis followed up a rejected shot by Hernandez in the 11th minute and found an opening between Thamen and the net to make it 2-1, but the Falcons put it away with seven minutes to play when Arres rushed in on a crossing shot and finished it for his second goal of the night.

“I tell my guys, maintain possession of the ball, and you’ll come out on top,” Osborn said. “It doesn’t have to be fancy, you just can’t lose possession. I think they just have some young, inexperienced players who will learn that in time.”

For Osborn’s second year at the helm of the Falcon’s soccer program, the improvement over last season and prior years has been evident in 2013.

“It’s a team now,” Osborn said. “Last year, we had a bunch of guys trying to play together, didn’t know each other very well. And now, they can do these subtle things where they can communicate and anticipate what the other player is going to do. When you work like that as a team, it just makes it so much smoother. That’s probably the biggest thing. We’ve had the skills, we just didn’t play together as a team last year.”

Jacksonville will host Little Rock McClellan on Tuesday while North Pulaski will host Mills.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot ladies emerging as contenders

Leader sportswriter

Cabot assured itself a shot at the 7A/6A East Conference championship with a 6-0 mercy-ruled shutout over Jonesboro at Panther Stadium on Tuesday. The Lady Panthers (10-3-4, 6-0) will now go into next Tuesday’s league matchup against second-place Searcy (5-1 conf.) with an unbeaten East record and a chance to wrap up the No. 1 state tournament seed.

The Lady Panthers served notice of their capabilities by shutting out the Lady Hurricane, and they also did it with goals from numerous sources on a night when leading scorer Jessica Souza was kept off the scoreboard by Jonesboro.

Jonesboro, traditionally a strong competitor in girls soccer, struggled to get offensive touches, and could not hold possession long enough to put together plays with a repeated series of quick touches at midfield that were quickly intercepted by the Lady Panthers.

“Non-stop effort, continuous from every player,” Cabot coach Kerry Castillo said. “Even substitutions, every player that went on the field was working at their max work rate. They do it for each other.”

The difference in passing ability was a big key in Cabot’s dominance over Jonesboro, as the Lady Panthers seemed to toy with their guest’s defense at times by kicking the ball out and running the same play again, finally attacking on the third or fourth pass, and usually scoring.

Freshman Braxton Reed was the only repeat scorer for Cabot with a pair of first-half goals, while sophomore Devin Patterson added another in the first 40 to give the Lady Panthers a 3-0 lead at the break.

Souza made up for not scoring by putting on a ball-handling clinic against the Jonesboro defense, spinning the ball up and over the defender to get back in front of the coverage.

“That’s one thing I was probably the most proud of,” Castillo said. “How well we worked together as a unit. Man, they passed the ball around great today, one-touch passes. They were very fluent, very creative, flicking the ball over the defender’s heads to run onto it themselves.”

Reed’s first score came in the first five minutes, when the Jonesboro keeper denied Souza on a pair of strikes. The first shot by Reed was also knocked down, but the second effort reached the far post to give the Lady Panthers a 1-0 lead.

Patterson’s score to end the half came on an athletic move following a corner kick by junior Codee Park.

Freshman Sydney Farqu-harson opened the second-half scoring for the Lady Panthers with a 20-yard blast from near right in the seventh minute that easily beat the keeper to make it 4-0. Junior Anna Applegate made it 5-0 in the 23rd minute with a low shot into the left corner that once again left the Lady ’Canes keeper defenseless.

Though the game was no longer in question, the most popular goal of the night for Cabot was the final score when sophomore Keeara Carter beat Jonesboro’s keeper with a direct shot at the start of the 24th minute to set the final margin.

“She’s a sophomore, and she’s just such a lovable kid,” Castillo said. “She finds herself with the ball in front of the goal a lot. Sometimes, it’s just not her day, or the ball bounces badly for her. And so most of the time, her shot is wide or saved. I think most of all, the girls just love her, and love to celebrate with her.”

The Lady Panthers will host Pulaski Academy at home in nonconference play on Friday before hosting the league-title showdown with Searcy on Tuesday.

EDITORIAL >> Sherwood also wants to split

The Sherwood City Council on Monday kicked off an effort to leave the Pulaski County Special School District and form an independent school district.

Critics who say enrollment in Sherwood’s schools doesn’t meet the minimum numbers required to split from PCSSD should take another look at the numbers.

State law requires any new district to have at least 4,000 students and the district it is breaking away from must have at least 4,000 students. PCSSD has more than 17,000 students.

Jacksonville also has the required numbers, but it would have to show a federal judge that its proposed district would be fully integrated.

Sherwood schools have an enrollment of 4,497, according to the most recent count released by PCSSD on March 14. That’s more than enough to leave the district.

A Sherwood district would also be 43.6 percent black, which is within the acceptable federal range for desegregation, according to our reporter Sarah Campbell.

Campbell explains that is important because PCSSD has yet to achieve unitary status — meaning it is not considered fully integrated. Any new district would have to receive approval from the federal court to split from PCSSD, which is 45.4 percent black, according to the March 14 count.

A Jacksonville school district would be 50 percent black, according to Campbell.

If both Jacksonville and Sherwood split from PCSSD, the old district would be left with 8,615 students, and 43.9 percent of that enrollment would be black. That is also within the acceptable range for desegregation.

A Jacksonville group is collecting signatures on a petition that would put to a vote whether the city should have its own school district. Sherwood is just forming a committee to explore how it can form a new district. It wouldn’t surprise us if Sherwood residents will also soon start collecting petitions calling for an election that would decide the future of yet another independent school district. We wish them both well.

EDITORIAL >> Let’s listen to victims

Life turns on a dime and anyone can go from happily living life to living life as a victim of crime or tragedy. And when victims need to talk about it, you need to listen.

That was the message earlier this week from Lonoke County Prosecutor Chuck Graham and Lt. Gov. Mark Darr, who spoke during a commemoration service for National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

Maybe if the room had been filled with known victims, the message would have been different. Almost certainly, someone would have spoken words intended to comfort. But Darr noted that many in the audience were elected officials or worked in the offices at the courthouse. There were also police chiefs, prosecutors, a circuit judge, Department of Human Services workers and workers from the county office that deals specifically with victims — people who either witness or hear daily about unspeakable wrongs. And comments were more cautionary than heartening.

Graham said that, as a former police officer, he understood how easy it is to become hardened to the pain of others. But apathy as self-protection is a disservice to victims who need to be heard.

“We get so callous, guys. We can’t do that,” Graham said.

Darr, the featured speaker, echoed that sentiment. He reminded the elected officeholders in the room to remember why they said they ran: to help people.

“At the end of the day, caring about people is all that matters,” the lieutenant governor said.

He advised against saying you understand what victims are going through unless you’ve been through it yourself.

“The reality is we don’t know how they feel. And the true reality is we don’t want to know how they feel,” he said. “Open your heart to people. Don’t get so busy we don’t see that people are hurting, be willing to help.”

The ceremony, if it could be called that, was short and seemed a little disjointed. Neither Graham nor Darr had prepared speeches. And the cake and punch at the back of the room at county annex where the ceremony was held seemed out of place considering the reason for the gathering.

But what it lacked in polish was made up for by the simple message of the speakers: Victims need to be able to talk about what has happened to them and listening is not just the least we can do. Sometimes it is all they need from us.

TOP STORY >> Festival returns to Jacksonville

Leader staff writer

The return of a festival in Jacksonville is fast approaching.

The date for the first ever Jacksonville FestiVille, sponsored by the city’s parks and recreation department, is set for June 21 and 22 at Dupree Park.

Event coordinator Dana Rozenski said the department is still looking for vendors and sponsors and should announce the roster of entertainment in about a week.

The department is promoting FestiVille as a family-oriented event and hopes to draw visitors from throughout central Arkansas.

It’s the first try at a citywide festival since the demise two years ago of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce-sponsored Wing Ding Festival. The chamber dropped the festival because it took up too many hours and was a losing proposition. The last Wing Ding ended up about $12,000 in the red.

Last fall, Mayor Gary Fletcher approached the Parks and Recreation Department about having a city festival. The department took on the assignment at full steam and full enthusiasm, Rozenski said.

One of the first things the department did was to move the festival from a very busy fall date that competed with Cabot, Sherwood, Beebe and the state fair to a late June date with less event competition in the area.

Rozenski said, “The two-day event will be filled with fun, delicious food vendors, an up-and-coming country act, a fishing derby sponsored by Ashland, awesome carnival rides and games, a 5K and 1K run sponsored by the 19th Operations Support Squadron booster club, children’s activities, baby crawling races, tricycle races, karaoke contest and exhibitor booths.

Also set for the festival is a volleyball tournament sponsored by the Central Arkansas Volleyball Association, Mr. and Miss FestiVille Pageant sponsored by the Jacksonville High School cheerleaders and a canine cutie contest sponsored by C&J’s Gifts.

Rozenski suggested that FestiVille could provide the perfect opportunity for businesses, churches and other organizations to reach out to the general public, or it could be used for fundraisers.

The department is looking for sponsorships of various events as well as cash sponsors to help defray the cost of the festival. Sponsorships start as low as $500 and run up to $3,000.

The $3,000 sponsorship package includes a banner at entrance sponsoring the midway, three sponsorship parking passes, a free booth with tent provided along the midway, listing as a major sponsor in advertising and the company logo and website link will be included on FestiVille’s website.

A $500 sponsorship package includes a free booth (but not along midway), listing as a major sponsor in advertising and the company logo and website link will be included on FestiVille’s webpage

For additional festival information, details about the sponsorships or vendor booths or to volunteer, call Rozenski at 501-982-0818.

TOP STORY >> Students baste in chef’s praise

Leader staff writer

James Beard award-winning Chef Maneet Chauhan of Food Network’s “Chopped” dazzled North Pulaski High School culinary students Thursday, but told them they could be stars, too.

“One of the most important things (for kids to know) is to never let your passion for this industry go and be true to yourself. I am where I am because of my teachers, people who showed me the right way. If I can give back in any way, I will,” she said.

Jacksonville and Little Rock were stops on the celebrity chefs 21 cities in 30 days tour to encourage ProStart’s aspiring chefs attending high schools nationwide and debut her new cook book, “Flavors of My World: A Culinary Tour Through 25 Countries.”

Chauhan has partnered with ProStart — a program the develops the best and brightest talent to secure the future of the restaurant and food service industry — to judge the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s student cooking contests in the cities she visits.

Student Randall Roach won the 40-minute competition held at the student-run Simply Delicious restaurant with his cornbread-encrusted rainbow trout, butterbean polenta and chow chow.

The three North Pulaski students who competed were told to make contemporary American cuisine.

Roach won a $500 knife set and a copy of Chauhan’s book.

The chowchow was his grandmother’s recipe. Roach said she inspired him to become a chef with a restaurant worthy of Michelin stars.

His grandmother died couple of years ago, he said.

“After she passed away, I thought cooking was the best way to be close to her. It’s how we communicate with each other in our house, (through) cooking,” Roach said.

Chauhan told Roach she could see him achieving those Michelin stars in the future.

The stars are a ranking system used by the Michelin guide, which publishes editions in 23 countries and is one of the best-selling restaurant guides in the world.

Just one star is very prestigious while two, three or more are very rare. Less than 100 restaurants in the world earned two stars in 2009 and only about two dozen were honored with three that year.

Roach could also be one of the three finalists selected to compete for a trip to Washington and a day of cooking with one of the featured chefs on the White House Chef Tour.

The finalists will be announced during the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago May 18-21.

Chauhan said, “It’s incredible to see the amount of zeal in these young kids.”

The chef noted that she was shocked and pleased when an 11-year-old girl she met at a book signing told her she wanted to specialize in molecular gastronomy. That is a subdiscipline of food science that seeks to look into and explain how ingredients change physically and chemically during cooking.

Food and travel writer Doug Singer, co-author of Chauhan’s book, is accompanying her on the tour. He also judged the NPHS competition.

“There is this whole generation of kids that have embraced food as a cultural experience. We have a very bright future as a country from a culinary perspective” Singer said.

He would tell aspiring chefs, “Just keep doing what you’re doing. Do it for the right reasons and success will come. Don’t do it to be successful. Do it because you love it.”

Chauhan, as a judge, was looking to “just see the creativity, the mentality.”

She said, “To me, cooking is like life. It’s all about evolution.”

Techniques can be taught, Chauhan added.

Roach was up against two other members of his four-person culinary team. The team won at the state level and advanced to the National ProStart Invitational held April 19-21 in Baltimore, which they didn’t place in.

Jacob Mosely prepared lamb chops with risotto, a red wine reduction sauce and shitake mushrooms. He also wants to become a chef.

“I like the challenges it throws at me. If something’s not right I have to think on my feet,” Mosely said.

Tiffani Yarberry, who hasn’t chosen a career yet, made oven-roasted shrimp with garlic chips and spicy pico de gallo.

“I like it because it brings new opportunities to see different cultures and it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

Chauhan — in a ponytail, jeans and a flowing bright pink and purple shirt — was in and out of the Simply Delicious kitchen smiling and asking the three students questions about their dishes.

She told them, after announcing the winner, “That was fantastic. You actually made me hungry. These dishes were excellent. I see a very bright future for all of you.”

Chauhan also offered advice on all three meals.

She told Yarberry the pico de gallo needed something extra. “Keep in mind each and every complement needs to be, by itself, spectacular,” Chauhan said.

The chef suggested Mosely use rice instead of risotto because risotto takes so long to prepare correctly. “It’s a labor of love,” she explained.

But he was complimented on getting the lamb medium-rare and for adding a splash of color to his presentation with broccoli.

Roach was told the addition of a Granny Smith apple to his cole slaw side would have made his meal better.

Chauhan invited this Leader reporter to travel to the high school on her bus and speak with her one-on-one.

She is from India and lives in New York.

Chauhan is married and has a 20-month-old daughter she hates being away from.

The chef’s first teachers were her parents. Her mother was a master of traditional Indian dishes while her father created desserts.

They used to say “I was born with a ladle in my hand,” Chauhan noted. “I like to eat good food, that’s why I cook,” she continued.

When complimented for being humble, the chef said, “It’s much easier to be down to earth. I prefer to put all my effort into cooking.”

Before traveling to the high school in her bus, Mayor Gary Fletcher presented Chauhan with a key to the city at America’s Best Value Inn.

She said, “It’s such a heartwarming feeling. This is one of the greatest honors I’ve ever received. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’ve just been overwhelmed by the warmth and hospitality. I love the people (of Jacksonville). That’s what really makes the day.”

TOP STORY >> State to pay little to help schools here

Leader staff writer

More than 90 school districts are splitting $130 million in state money to help with new construction and remodeling, but only three area districts are reaping any of the benefits.

No money is going to either Cabot or the Pulaski County School District. The Little Rock School District won’t be getting any of this money either.

The Lonoke School District is slated to get $1.1 million to replace the heating and air system in the primary school; Beebe School District is getting $12,941 to install safety equipment in the middle school; and the England School District is set to get $116,400 to replace the roof at its high school’s fine arts building and another $15,500 to upgrade the lighting at its elementary and high school.

All total, that comes not much more than $1.11 million.

So where is the money going?

The North Little Rock School District, undergoing a major renovation, construction and consolidation plan is getting about $4 million.

Bryant School District is getting about $10.8 million, while Benton is slated for $170,000.

The single largest outlay is just over $15 million to the Bentonville School District for a new high school, followed by $5.7 million to the Brookland School District for a new middle school and $5.3 million to the Melbourne School District for a new elementary school.

The $130 million in state funding is expected to help complete 177 school projects across the state this next year. But the state still has more than $200 million worth of need projects on its 2013-2015 academic facilities approved project list.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

EDITORIAL >> Terrorists elude FBI

The terrorist attacks in Boston last week were our nation’s fifth intelligence failure since 9/11. Even though the FBI had received warnings about the perpetrators in advance, they eluded capture until after they killed and injured scores of Americans.

One of those terrorists hit close to home in June 2009, when Carlos Bledsoe of Memphis (aka : Abdul Hakim Mujahid Muhammad) shot and killed Pvt. William Long, 23, of Conway and seriously wounded Pvt. Quinton Ezeagwula, 18, of Jacksonville while they were standing in front of an Army recruiting station in west Little Rock. The FBI knew about Bledsoe’s meetings with al Qaeda in Yemen, yet he made his way to Little Rock and gunned down the two young recruiters, one of them paying the ultimate price.

A few months later, Maj. Nidal Malik Hassan, 39, an Army psychiatrist, killed 13 people and injured dozens of others at Fort Hood, Texas. He was supposed to go to Iraq, but he told several people that no Muslim should fight along Christians and Jews against other Muslims.

There’s a similar pattern in every attack: The perpetrators meet up with radical elements overseas or at their local mosques. Complaints are made about their erratic behavior, but the FBI, lacking more evidence against a possible threat, can’t make an arrest until it’s too late.

Bledsoe should have been picked up in Memphis months before the Little Rock shooting. He’s serving a life sentence.

The Tsarnaev clan, the ethnic Chechens who immigrated here a decade ago, brought with them a culture that was crushed after years of wars with the Russians who ruled over them

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, the ringleader of the Boston terror attacks, was on the FBI’s radar, especially after the Russian intelligence services warned the U.S. last year about Tsarnaev’s trip to his native Dagestan in the north Caucuses. It’s a hotbed of terror where he could have learned how to make explosives. It’s amazing he was allowed to return.

Russia has wiped out the Islamic separatist movement in the region, but they’re always on the lookout for trouble. Not long ago, Russians killed a local terrorist whose video Tsarnaev had posted on his YouTube channel.

Tsarnaev returned to Boston, but he couldn’t become a U.S. citizen after he beat his girlfriend, which isn’t a big deal back home. He should have been deported right away. Immigrants have been kicked out for lesser crimes.

His brother, Dzhokhar, 19, who set off one of the bombs, is just as depraved and ruthless. After they were cornered by police Thursday night, he tried to run over his brother with a stolen SUV. Tamerlan had explosives strapped around his body, but they didn’t go off. He died in a hail of police bullets.

Dzokhar, who was found hiding in a boat Friday night, was close to death but has made a rapid recovery at Beth Israel Hospital and is cooperating with police. He’s accused of setting off weapons of mass destruction and is facing capital murder charges for killing a child and two young women at the marathon and a campus police officer. The survivors who lost their limbs will present compelling testimony at Tsarnaev’s trial.

No one is accusing the FBI of doing a lousy job when it comes to fighting terrorism. The bureau has prevented hundreds of potential attacks, but stricter guidelines could prevent future Tsarnaevs, Carlos Bledsoes and Maj. Hassans from killing more Americans.

Terrorists will continue to target us even if 99 percent of them are stopped in hopes that one of them will succeed. Perhaps the FBI should hire 1,000 more agents and watch out for troublemakers who are as deranged as the Tsarnaev clan — sequestration be damned.

TOP STORY >> Projects will get funding by state

Leader senior staff writer

House Speaker Davy Carter (R-Cabot), Sen. Pro Temp-elect Jonathan Dismang (R-Beebe) and Rep. Mark Perry (D-Jacksonville) were on hand Tuesday to witness Gov. Mike Beebe sign the private-option healthcare insurance into law.

All three said they had not yet decided how to spend the general improvement funds allocated to them.

Perry, who in the past has channeled money to Reed’s Bridge Civil War historic site, the Jacksonville Senior Center and the Boys and Girls Club, will have $300,000 to allocate this year as a third-term representative. First- and second-term representatives are allocated $225,000, Perry said.

As a senator, Dismang will have $1 million.

Carter, who gets credit — or the blame — for orchestrating passage of the private-option bill sponsored by Rep. John Burris (R-Harrison), has been subject to speculation that he would seek the Republican nomination as governor in 2014.

Asked Tuesday after the signing ceremony whether he would run, Carter said, “I’m going to go home and get my mind clear.”

“But that’s not no,” he was asked.

“That was not no. I’m thinking about it,” Carter said.

Among those the governor singled out for their efforts in passing the private-option answer to Medicaid expansion — part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act — were Carter, Dismang, Burris and Sen. Pro Tem Michael Lamoureux (R-Russellville), Sen. David Sanders (R-Little Rock), Sen. Paul Bookout (D-Jonesboro) and Sen. Larry Teague (D-Nashville).

He also said hard work by the Department of Human Services and the Department of Finance and Administration had made the private-option plan possible.

“They provided a ton of background and a ton of work,” Beebe said.

“This is a victory for all of us,” the governor said.

Beebe said he and legislative leaders met early and, instead of fighting over Medicaid expansion per se, they began to explore cracks in the law that eventually developed into the private-option plan.

“We knew in November that there was some potential…for a private option on a limited basis,” Beebe said.

He told Republican leaders he would fight for it with Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius in Washington if they would support it back home.

“My recollection is different than the governor’s,” Dismang said after the signing. “We were being presented with an all-or-nothing federal approach to extending Medicaid here in Arkansas and it was quite a journey to getting private option to put in those conservative principles we wanted in the law — no easy task.”

There was no way Republicans and some skittish Democrats were going to pull together a three-quarter super majority needed to expand Medicaid, but, with no major missteps, expanding health insurance coverage to 250,000 low-income Arkansans was possible.

It was passed last week by one vote in the Senate and two votes in the House.

“We didn’t have anything to spare,” Dismang said.

Of the $140 million in tax cuts, Beebe said he told lawmakers he couldn’t support that “unless we can pay for them.”

“Both of those leaders (Lamoureaux and Carter) provided extraordinary leadership,” the governor said.

Beebe said he believed the state can afford the $10 million in 2014 tax cuts and the $86 million cuts in 2015. “We can pay through Medicaid-option opportunities, creating savings in other areas,” he said.

“But they better be careful what they are doing in 2016,” Beebe warned. “If their assumptions aren’t right, they have about $40 million in tax cuts too much.”

Beebe said he accomplished everything he wanted to accomplish this session, but he didn’t get everything he wanted.

“They could take a lesson from this 1,000 miles away in Washington, D.C.,” he said of the bi-partisan effort.

TOP STORY >> City’s 65th anniversary

Leader staff writer

Nearly 150 people squeezed into seats and along the walls of the Jack Evans Senior Citizens Center on Monday for the first Sherwood Heritage Day to celebrate the city’s 65th birthday.

A Sherwood flag was flying proudly over the nation’s Capitol in Washington to commemorate the celebration, said Jason McGehee, a representative from Rep. Tim Griffin’s (R-Little Rock) office.

The crowd reacted to his announcement with awe.

The speakers — founding mother Amy Sanders and founding father Bernard Olds — stole the show next. Although he didn’t speak, Ron Duran, another founder, also attended the event.

Darrell Brown, chairman of the Sherwood History and Heritage Commission and the driving force behind Monday’s event, said, “The Duran name is synonymous with Sherwood (and) 95 percent of the memorabilia we have on display is from Ron Duran.”

As Sanders approached the microphone, the audience rose to its feet and clapped boisterously.

She said, “This was definitely a good place to grow up.”

Sanders told everyone in the room who was born before 1947 to raise their hands. Then she asked them if they remembered what they were doing on May 1 of that year.

Sanders was living in a small apartment with her young daughter. There was a housing shortage at the time and World War II had just ended.

Sanders said people always want to do better when they have children. That is one reason she started looking for a house.

The home she found was one of just a few built in the Sylvan Hills community.

Sanders said her family was so excited about living there that they moved in two weeks before the house had electricity and water.

They paid $100 up front and $4,500 total.

Each neighbor had two, three or four kids, Sanders said.

Her children were active in extracurricular activities at the high school, but they didn’t have cell phones back then.

The used a pay phone at a business close to the school to call and let Sanders know when they needed to be picked up.

“We never had to worry about their safety and that was a good thing,” she said.

Olds told the audience that he was a rural mailman.

“I got roped into a lot of things because I knew everybody,” he joked.

Olds said one of those things was circulating the petition to incorporate Sherwood as a city.

Mayor Virginia Hillman and the commission chairman surprised Sanders, Olds and Duran with keys to the city.

Sanders said she recalled that the first key to the city was made of wood.

The three city founders then blew out the candles on one of Sherwood’s two birthday cakes.

Brown began the festivities by reading a proclamation signed by Gov. Mike Beebe and Secretary of State Mark Martin.

The governor declared Monday to be Sherwood Heritage Day statewide.

The proclamation said families began settling in the area now known as Sherwood in the early 1900s and briefly described the city’s history.

The small farming community got running water from the three springs on the Koehler property in 1923. Electricity was available to households in 1925.

When Sherwood was incorporated on April 22, 1948, its population was 714.

The city was 2,754 strong the next year.

That population tripled to more than 10,000 residents between 1970 and 1980.

The latest count, according to the 2011 census, is almost 30,000.

Sherwood has 17 parks, a 10-acre sports complex, two recreational facilities, an active senior citizens center and year-round programs for youth of all ages, the proclamation reads.

It also said reaching this 65-year milestone is “a testament to its appeal as a place to raise families and develop the strong bonds that define community.”

Brown also introduced Tim Riley, a representative from Sen. John Boozman’s (R-Ark.) office.

Riley read a letter from the senator. It said, “Sherwood has come a long way. You have created a community to be proud of.”

Boozman is a “history buff,” Riley noted. His letter also mentioned how the city’s first speed limit was 25 mph, which everyone in the room laughed about.

Brown even joked about that still being the speed limit because he’s always getting pulled over for breaking it.

Riley said the senator encourages residents to take the time to get the stories told by the city’s founders in writing or on video so they can be shared at Sherwood’s 100th birthday celebration.

TOP STORY >> Sherwood wants split from PCSSD

Leader staff writer

The Sherwood City Council voted on Monday to form a committee that will study the feasibility of an independent school district.

Critics have said Sher-wood’s enrollment is too low to break away, but maybe they’re wrong.

State law requires any new district to have at least 4,000 students and the district it is breaking away from must have at least 4,000 students. Pulaski County Special School District has more than 17,000 students.

Sherwood’s schools —Cato Elementary, Oakbrook Elementary, Sherwood Elementary, Sylvan Hills Elementary, Northwood Middle, Sylvan Hills Middle and Sylvan Hills High — have an enrollment of 4,497. That is according to the most recent count released by PCSSD on March 14.

A Sherwood district would also be 43.6 percent black, which is within the acceptable federal range for desegregation.

That is important because PCSSD has yet to achieve unitary status — meaning it is not considered fully integrated.

Any new district would have to receive approval from the federal court to split from PCSSD, which is 45.4 percent black, according to the March 14 count.

Alderman Mary Jo Heye asked at the council meeting how many people would be on the committee researching what Sherwood needs to do to form its own district.

The mayor said she would like to see at least five, but no more than nine, members.

Heye said, “I’m personally so excited. Nothing can affect our economic future more than being able to control the quality of our education.”

The council is seeking volunteers to serve on the committee. Residents are also encouraged to suggest people who would be a valuable members of the group.

Alderman Mike Sanders will represent the council on the committee. He was the only council member with a child who attends a PCSSD school.

Sanders’ son is a freshman at Sylvan Hills High School.

Steve Jordan, whose daughter is a senior at the high school, has volunteered to be a parent representative on the committee.

Alderman Marina Brooks said a resident asked her if the city was spending money on the study.

Mayor Virginia Hillman said the city is not using any funds to conduct the study.

She continued, “There’s a lot of interest. It’s a progressive thing. It’s something we owe to our kids and their parents.”

Former Pulaski County Clerk Pat O’Brien, a member of the Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps — the group pushing for an independent district in Jacksonville — has said the courts would not allow Sherwood to break away because PCSSD just built the $31.5 million Sylvan Hills Middle School, which opened in 2011.

The district has been under federal court supervision for decades. That will end when it is declared unitary.

When it is released from court oversight, PCSSD stands to lose between $17 million and $20 million it receives in desegregation money for programs like majority to minority transfers.

After the meeting, Jordan said, “It’s not going to be fast. It’s not going to be easy. But it’s the perfect time because (PCSSD is) in disarray.”

The state took over the district in June 2011, dismissing the school board and firing then-superintendent Charles Hopson.

Superintendent Jerry Guess replaced Hopson. State Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell is acting as a one-man school board.

A law that passed recently allows the arrangement to continue for three more years.

Since then, Maumelle has announced its intention to look into getting an independent school district.

O’Brien has said, aside from the fact there is a new high school there, the city doesn’t have enough students and wouldn’t be able to comply with desegregation requirements because it is too white.

Unlike Sherwood and Maumelle, which are in the early stages of getting their own districts, the Jacksonville/North Pulaski Education Corps is nearing its goal.

The group is collecting signatures on a petition that would put to a vote whether the city should have its own school district.

Jacksonville could split from PCSSD as soon as this fall.

All of the city’s six feasibility studies have shown there is community support for a new district, it would have an adequate tax base and revenue, and it would not upset desegregation issues being monitored by the federal court.

According to the March 14 enrollment count, schools in the proposed district’s boundaries — Homer Adkins Preschool, Bayou Meto Elementary, Murrell Taylor Elementary, Pinewood Elementary, Tolleson Elementary, Arnold Drive Elementary, Warren Dupree Elementary, Jacksonville Mid-dle, Jacksonville High School and North Pulaski High School — have 4,655 students, more than required by state law to separate from PCSSD.

According to that count, a Jacksonville school district would be 50 percent black.

If both Jacksonville and Sherwood split from PCSSD, the district would be left with 8,615 students and 43.9 percent of that enrollment would be black.

That is also within the acceptable range for desegregation.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears second in River City Rivalry

Leader sportswriter

The River City Rivalry tournament was set up as a small yet competitive tournament, and with three of the four teams in the girls bracket finishing 2-1 through two days of round-robin play, it lived up to its name with Maumelle claiming the championship on a points tiebreaker.

Sylvan Hills entered the tournament as host and defending champions, but a 5-0 loss to the Lady Hornets in the late Friday game was enough of a setback that left the Lady Bears a point shy when everything was tallied. The tournament started out on a strong note for Sylvan Hills with a 2-0 shutout win over a tough Batesville team on Friday afternoon, and the Lady Bears closed out tournament play with a 3-0 victory over Mills University Studies. Things became complicated when Batesville downed Maumelle 2-1 on Saturday, but the Lady Hornets scored the most points of anyone through three games to hold the tiebreaker, with Sylvan Hills claiming second and Batesville taking a close third.

“It was a very good weekend,” Lady Bears coach Nate Persson said. “I thought we played outstanding, even in the 5-0 loss we had to Maumelle, we still had some great individual efforts and as a team, we also played well. I told them it was the best I’ve ever felt after taking a 5-0 thrashing.”

The original format called for the tournament to begin on Thursday evening, but stormy weather forced the schedule to be changed to a two-day event, with all teams playing two 60-minute games on Friday before switching back to traditional 80-minute games for Saturday.

The Lady Bears came up short on repeating as tournament champs, but swept the individual honors as junior forward Abi Persson was voted outstanding player of the tournament and senior Naomi Gregory was selected by the coaches as outstanding goalkeeper. Michaela Pinegar and Caylyn Fulton were selected to the all-tournament team.

Persson and Fulton each scored in the opener against Batesville, while Shelby Brown led the defensive charge in the first half. Prior personal commitments took Brown off the field for the second half, forcing coach Persson to adjust defensively.

“We put a lot of effort into that game,” Persson said. “There’s no doubt we were tired after that one. We had to keep our starters in most of that game.”

The Lady Hornets focused much of their defensive efforts against Abi Persson in the second game and found ways to keep the junior standout from scoring, primarily by defending in numbers.

“It was really a tale of who played the toughest,” Persson said. “One thing that really juiced them up was that they know Abi from club soccer. They did everything they could to clog her, they had five deep defending against her.”

The Lady Bears recovered enough by Saturday morning to end the tournament on a winning note with a 3-0 shutout over Mills. Abi Persson scored two goals while Fulton added the other goal, as Sylvan Hills used its bench to get through the match.

SPORTS STORY >> Lady ’Rabs earn share of 4A-2 title

Leader sportswriter

With Friday’s 6-4 win over Clinton, the Lady Jackrabbits’ softball team earned a share of the 4A-2 Conference championship. They continued their winning ways on Monday with a 9-3 win over 2A-6 Conference champion Hazen in the final game of the season at the Lonoke softball field.

Lonoke (14-4, 5-1) shares the conference title with Heber Springs and Southside-Batesville, who are the only other teams to finish their conference schedule with one loss. Due to point differentials, the Lady Jackrabbits will enter the District Tournament on Friday as the No. 2 seed.

“It’s a perfect triangle,” said Lady Jackrabbits coach Laura Park. “We all had one loss, so when it came to points, Southside beat us and Heber in points. So Southside is the one seed. Heber and us were tied on points, but we’re the two seed because head-to-head we beat Heber.”

Ace pitcher Hannah Murray ended her final home game Monday with a win, pitching all seven innings, recording four strikeouts while giving up just three hits. A couple of infield errors allowed Hazen (10-7, 9-1) to put runners in scoring position in the first inning, and the Lady Hornets took a 1-0 lead on a ground ball by cleanup hitter Mikah Shelman.

The Lady ‘Rabbits responded in the bottom of the first with a two-out, RBI-single to the right-field gap by Jessy Lewis. Jasalyn Truelove scored on the play after getting on base earlier in the inning with an infield single.

Murray and the Lady ‘Rabbit defense held the Lady Hornets scoreless in the second inning, and scored four runs in the latter part of the inning to take a 5-1 lead. Candy James scored Lonoke’s second run of the game, and leadoff hitter Charley Jo Chesney drove in runs three and four with a standup double to right centerfield.

Jarrelyn McCall and Kayley Dozier scored on the play to put Lonoke up 4-1. Truelove sent Chesney across the plate the next at bat with a single up the middle. The Lady ‘Rabbits added another run in the third before Hazen scored two in the fourth, which cut the margin to 6-3.

The score remained 6-3 until Lonoke added three runs in the sixth to gain its largest lead of the afternoon. Murray started the inning with a single to the right-field gap. Her courtesy runner, Kelsey Holder, scored the next at bat on a triple to deep right centerfield by cleanup hitter Katelyn James.

A ground ball to shortstop by Lewis allowed James to score Lonoke’s eighth run of the game. Haylee Whitehurst reached on an E4 the next at bat, and scored the final run on an infield single by Courtney McGowan.

Park was happy to see her team get the win, but with District Tournament play beginning Friday, she would like to see her team play with more urgency to put games away, as well as eliminating mental mistakes that could be costly in the postseason.

“I have confidence in these girls,” Park said. “I know what they can do. I know what they’re capable of, and I guess maybe I’m the eternal optimist sometimes, thinking it’s always going to turn out OK. We have to quit leaving runners stranded, and I think the other night at Clinton we left seven runners on in the first two innings.

“We’ve just got to quit that. We have to be able to put the ball down and put it in play, advance some runners, and get some scores early on. But we also have to work on being smart base runners. That was obvious today. We made several running errors that a team at this level shouldn’t be making.”

Lady ‘Rabbit seniors Murray, McGowan and Katelyn James all recorded base hits in their final home game. Murray and Truelove each had two hits, while McGowan, Katelyn James, Chesney, Lewis and Dozier had a hit apiece.

Lonoke will play the winner of the Clinton/Pine Bluff Dollarway game in the second round of the District Tournament at 6 p.m. Friday at Heber Springs.

SPORTS STORY >> North Pulaski drills Mills

Leader sports editor

It’s been a long time coming, but now it’s here, North Pulaski’s first wins in 5A Central baseball action. The victories came Tuesday at Dupree Park as the Falcons swept Mills 13-3 and 16-2. The Falcons piled up 11 hits in game one and 12 in game two to go along with many walks and several errors by the Comets.

“We finally got to play two-straight scheduled games without something being canceled or rained out,” North Pulaski coach Michael Dean said. “Our timing has been off because we haven’t played consistently. Tonight we got our timing down a little better. It wasn’t just the same guys tonight getting all the hits. We hit the ball pretty well all the way down the lineup.”

North Pulaski scored three runs in the bottom of the first inning of game one to take a 3-1 lead. After a scoreless second inning, Mills added two in the top of the third to tie the game. It stayed tied until the bottom of the fourth, when North Pulaski got the first of two-straight five-run innings to end the game on the sportsmanship rule.

Cleanup hitter Austin Allen ended the game with a walk-off, two-run home run.

“He’s just been killing it,” Dean said of his senior centerfielder. “He’s the best player around that nobody knows about. He’s having a great year.”

The game-ending shot was Allen’s sixth home run of the season. He went 2 for 2 with three runs batted in and four runs scored. He walked twice. His twin brother Troy Allen also went 2 for 2 with a triple, two walks and three runs scored.

Nathan Crews, Fred Thomas, Billy Rogers, Ean Collie, Hunter McPherson and Alex Broadwell each finished with one base hit. Broadwell also got the win on the mound, throwing five innings, giving up four hits while striking out seven.

In game two, he was one of five Falcons to get multiple base hits. Thomas led the way in the 16-2 nightcap, going 3 for 4. Broadwell, Crews, Austin Allen and McPherson each got two base hits, while Jacob Aloi added one single to the tally. Troy Allen finished with no official at bats, but was hit three times, walked once and scored three runs.

“That guy just gets on base,” Dean said of Troy Allen. “He just finds a way to get on base. Whether it’s getting a hit, drawing or walk or taking a pitch.”

North Pulaski, playing as the visiting team in game two, scored five runs in the top of the first inning to quickly take command.

They added a run in the top of the third before Mills posted two in the bottom half. The Falcons then scored three in the fourth and seven in the fifth to set the final margin.

North Pulaski drew 11 walks to go with the 12 base hits in the nightcap. Austin Allen walked once, finishing the night 4 for 5 with one home run, three RBIs and six runs scored. He is now 25 of 37 at the plate this year for a .676 batting average. In eight conference games, he is 11 of 15 for a .733 average.

“That’s been against the best teams in the conference too,” Dean said. “We’ve played Little Rock Christian, Pulaski Academy and Jacksonville, and those are all playoff teams with good pitching.”

T.J. Waters got the win on the mound in game two for the Falcons.

North Pulaski (4-11, 2-6) hosts Helena-West Helena Central on Thursday to makeup a rained out game from last week.

SPORT STORY >> Cabot South third in CAJHC

Leader sportswriter

Bryant was the host site for the Central Arkansas Junior High Conference track meet on Friday, with all four Cabot teams, including North Junior High boys and girls and South Junior High boys and girls, taking part.

Cabot Junior High South boys had the best finish of all the local teams, finishing third in the event with 88 points while Cabot North finished fifth with 56 points. Lake Hamilton won the meet with 134.5 points to runner up Bryant’s 94 points.

North’s Evan Hooper won the 100-meter dash with a time of 11:59, barely defeating South sprinter Mark Odom, who came a close second just one-one hundredth of a second behind. Hooper was also victorious in the 200-meter dash with a winning time of 23.47, and first in the 400-meter run with a time of 52.18. Odom went on to get a win for South in the 110-meter hurdles with a winning time of 15.69, well in front of South teammate and second-place finisher Ethan Holland, who recorded a 17.86. South’s Braden Jarnigan was sixth with a time of 18.93.

Odom made it a sweep of the hurdles with a victory in the 300-meter hurdles with a time of 42.71.

The South relay team of Braden Barnes, Jarrod Barnes, Jarnigan and Odom took third place in the 4X100 event with a time of 47.22. The North team of Rocky Burke, Brock Bottorff, Kolton Eads and Hooper finished second in the 4X400 relay.

In field events, South’s Barnes claimed third in the high jump with a height of 5-4. South teammate Braxton Burton was also third in the pole vault with a height of 10-6. South’s Jess Reed finished sixth in the pole vault with a 9-0 and teammate Dylan Smith was credited for seventh with the same height. Barnes was sixth in the triple jump with a distance of 35-3.

Hooper added a fourth event victory with a 20-3 distance in the long jump, while South’s Brandon Jones finished third in the shot put with a distance of 43-1.5. North’s Brett Locke was seventh in the shot put with a 40-3.25.

On the girls’ side, North was fourth overall with 64 points while South finished sixth with 35.33 points. Lake Hamilton made it a sweep with a score of 196.5 on the girls’ side, while Conway Blue finished second with 157 points and Bryant in third with 73.5 points.

Amalie Gunn of Cabot South finished third in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.62 and was third in the 200-meter event with a 28.34. North’s Miranda Walker finished fifth in the 100-meter dash with a time of 13.70, and was third in the 200-meter dash with a 28.37. Walker also took fourth place in the long-jump field event with a distance of 14-10, and was second in the triple jump with a distance of 31-4.5. Tristan Edgar won the 800-meter run for North with a winning time of 2:34.77, while South’s Casey Gore was sixth with a time of 2:46.02. South’s Samantha Nickell finished fourth in the 1,600-meter run with a time of 6:10.57 while Ashley Gore finished fifth in the event with a 6:12.70 time, and Casey Gore was eighth with a time of 6:20.46 for South.

The South relay team of Hannah Ringgold, Regan Campbell, Gunn and Joey Long finished fourth in the 4X100-meter relay with a time of 55.21, one place in front of the North team of Walker, Edgar, Sydney Shumate and Jenny Bond, who took fifth with a time of 56.24.

The South team of Long, Gore, Gunn and Ashley Chandler finished fifth in the 4X400 relay with a time of 4:49.71. The South team of Ashley Gore, Casey Gore, Melanie Abbott and Chloe Thompson finished third in the 4X800 relay with an 11:00.51 time.

Odom was sixth in the pole vault with a height of 6-9 for North while Shutmate was eighth with a 6-9 leap. North’s Elaine Helpenstill was seventh in the shot put with a distance of 27-8, and also finished seventh in the discus throw with a toss of 60-9.

SPORTS STORY >> Devils get solid win over Tigers

Leader sports editor

The Jacksonville Red Devils posted a solid nonconference win on Monday, beating Little Rock Central 3-1 at Dupree Park. The win was especially important because it was a bounce-back effort after a miserable outing last Friday at Spiro, Okla. The Spiro Bulldogs beat Jacksonville 10-0 on Friday in six innings during the Red Devils annual weekend trip to Baum Stadium to take in a Razorback baseball game.

“It was like night and day,” Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows said Monday of how his team performed in its last two outings. “Producing runs has been our struggle all year. We’re going to play good defense and we’re going to throw strikes, but we didn’t even do that on Friday. We came back and played like we’re supposed to play today. I just wish we could’ve scored more. Three runs is going to be enough occasionally, but really three runs is not enough. We left a few opportunities to score out there. We’ve got to be more productive when we get runners on base.”

While run production has been weak this year, the Red Devil bats are swinging better than they have been. Recent games have seen the base hits increase in number, though runs scored has not picked up as much.

“We’re swinging it better than we were, there’s no doubt about that,” Burrows said. “We’ve got a lot of guys whose batting averages are going up. We’re just not seeing a lot more runs. What we have to do now is find a way to get those key base hits when guys are on. We’re definitely getting better, we’re just not getting the clutch hits yet.”

Kaleb Reeves was one player who was dialed in on Monday. Reeves finished 3 for 4 with a double off the wall down the right field line. That shot scored Derek St. Clair, who had walked with one out and stolen second base, and gave the Red Devils a 2-1 lead in the third inning.

Jacksonville left two runners in scoring position in the fourth inning, but added a run in the fifth on a strange play. St. Clair, Reeves and Blake Perry hit consecutive, one-out singles to load the bases. Greg Jones then popped up to second base.

The ball was just beyond the infield dirt, and the Tiger second baseman let it drop in front of him. No clear signal of the infield fly rule was given by the umpires, creating uncertainty among the base runners whether the rule was in effect. St. Clair broke for home and got caught in a rundown, but scored after an errant throw during the chase.

Central protested that it should have been a force out at home, but the umpire ruled it an infield fly, which means all force-outs are negated.

It was the second time in as many innings that a coach had words for the field umpire. Reeves was called out on a pick-off throw to second base after his double, a play in which he easily beat the throw back to the bag.

St. Clair started on the mound and got the win in three innings of work. He gave up two hits and one run. James Tucker threw the fourth and fifth innings, giving up four hits but working his way out a tight jam in the fourth.

Reeves took the mound for the final two innings, giving up just one hit.

Jacksonville (9-11, 7-3) hosts Mills in a 5A-Central doubleheader on Thursday at Dupree Park.