Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers win conference

By RAY BENTONLeader sports editor

The Cabot girls’ track team won the 7A-East/Central Conference meet last Friday in Conway by a wide margin. Cabot scored 193 points to beat two-time defending champion Bryant’s 135.5. Conway was third with 96 points.

Van Buren finished fourth with 96 and West Memphis finished fifth with 56.5. Little Rock Central scored 51, North Little Rock 31 and Mount St. Mary 24 to round out the league standings.

Cabot coach Leon White was pleased with his team’s overall effort, but confessed it probably should’ve been closer.

“The points are a little deceiving because Bryant’s best athlete wasn’t there,” said White. “She wouldn’t have scored enough for them to beat us, but it would’ve been closer. Overall I thought we performed pretty well. We got several people qualified for state that hadn’t qualified. We missed on a couple we wanted, too, and that was a little disappointing. But overall it was a really good meet for us.”

Expectations weren’t as high for the Cabot boys’ team, but the Panthers exceeded expectations, scoring 74.2 points and finishing third.

“That was a little bit of a surprise for the boys to come in third,” White said. “They’re young, there’s not very many of them out this year, but they competed hard.”

Bryant won the boys’ conference championship with 221.6 points while Conway was second with 146.

Micah Huckabee didn’t turn in anywhere near her best times, but still won the 800 and 1,600 meter races. White said that was by design for his University of Arkansas commitment.

“We weren’t asking her to run her best times,” White said. “We just asked her for the 10 points.”

Senior Danielle McWilliams also qualified for state in the 800 with a sixth-place finish. Alyssa Hamilton was right on her heels just two-tenths of a second behind McWilliams. She finished seventh and earned two points for the team total, but only the top six in each event qualify for state.

Freshman Casey Gore qualified for state in the 1,600 with a fifth-place finish, and three Lady Panthers joined Huckabee in qualifying for the two-mile.

Huckabee already had a qualified time in the 3,200 and didn’t run it at conference, but junior teammate Samantha Nickell finished second, Gore took fourth and senior Vanessa Weidling finished fifth for the Lady Panthers.

Lexi Weeks won the 400-meter race with a time of 58.80 and the 100-meter hurdles with a 15.62. Tori Weeks was right behind her in the high hurdles with a 15.95, and she won the 300-meter intermediate hurdles with a personal record of 44.77. Junior Caytee Wright also qualified for state in the 300 hurdles with a sixth-place finish, and McWilliams qualified in the high hurdles by also taking sixth.

“Danielle has been under the weather and wasn’t feeling real well, so she didn’t have her best meet,” White said. “But she got it done in everything we tried to qualify her for.”

Lexi and Tori Weeks finished first and second once again in the pole vault. Each has cleared 13-feet or more in almost every meet this year, but stopped at 11-6 on Friday because of bad conditions.

“We just wanted them to go as high as they needed to get first and second,” White said.

Junior Ashley Odom finished fourth in the vault to qualify for state. Lexi and Tori Weeks finished first and second in the long jump as well. Lexi Weeks jumped 17-7 and Tori went 16-7. Tori Weeks also won the triple jump with a leap of 37-2 3/4.

Hamilton threw a personal best 104 feet in the discus throw to finish second behind West Memphis’ Adara Russell, who threw 105-11.

Wright qualified for state in the high jump with a fifth-place finish, and Anna Sullivan threw the shot put 30 feet to finish fifth and qualify.

For the boys, sophomore Britton Alley finished second in the 100-meter dash and third in the 200. Junior Rocky Burke cleared 12-6 and sophomore Braxton Burton jumped 12-feet in the pole vault to finish second and third respectively.

Junior Brandon Jones finished second in the discus with a toss of 136-6, just 15 inches away from first place Austin Norris of Conway. Freshman Omero Garcia also qualified for state with a sixth-place discus throw.

Senior Nick Davis took fourth in the two-mile while Brayden Mercantel finished fifth in the 800 and sixth in the mile. Sophomore Connor Daigle finished sixth in the 300 hurdles.

“We were proud of them,” White said. “The girls did what we went over there to do and the boys did better than we thought. So it was overall a good day.”