Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SPORTS STORY >> CHS ladies dominate state MOC

Leader sports editor

The Cabot girls’ track team got a modicum of revenge Saturday in Russellville, where the Lady Panthers dominated the Arkansas High School Meet of Champions.

The Lady Panthers lost the 7A state championship by a half point to Bentonville the week before, but outscored the Lady Tigers 92-46 on Saturday, easily beating the rest of the competition and doubling up the point total of the second-place Lady Tigers. Bryant took third with 36 points, and Class 6A teams Parkview and Lake Hamilton tied with 35 to finish fourth and fifth.

The most gratifying win for the Lady Panthers came in the 4x400-meter relay, the race in which Bentonville stole the 7A title on the last event with a time it had never come close to achieving before. The Lady Tigers beat Cabot by .57 seconds at the state meet, running a 4:00.82, almost six seconds faster than its best time before that meet. On Saturday, that same Bentonville team ran it in 4:19.61 to finish ninth and out of the points.

The Cabot team of Tori and Lexi Weeks, Danielle McWilliams and Tristyn Edgar almost broke the state record with a school record time of 3:55.96.

“It felt good beating them,” said Cabot senior Tori Weeks. “Especially in that one event, the 4x400. We lost state by a half a point and we really wanted to beat them. I thought that last race everyone of us ran the best we could.”

Rainy conditions weren’t ideal for record-setting, but Cabot senior Lexi Weeks still broke her own pole vault record for the third time, clearing 14-feet, two-inches. She broke the state record last week by clearing 13-7, and broke her all-time best record of 14-0 as well on Saturday.

Tori Weeks took second in the pole vault with a jump of 13-6. She was also second in the triple jump after winning the Class 7A state championship. She came up six inches short of her school-record jump at state with a leap of 37-1, but it wouldn’t have mattered for her placement Saturday. Parkview’s Jada Baylark became the first girl in Arkansas high school history to jump 40-feet, blowing away the old record by almost a foot and a half with a jump of 40-7 1/2.

Baylark also beat 7A champion Lexi Weeks by a hair in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing in 14.67 to beat Lexi’s 14.82. Baylark also won the 100-meter dash.

Lexi Weeks set a new school record in the 400-meter dash, breaking her mother Amy’s 30-year-old school record of 57.24 with a time of 56.96.

“It was pretty crazy,” said Lexi Weeks of breaking her mother’s record set in 1985. “I just started running the open quarter last year and didn’t break 58, but this year I had gotten close to it. I always had a problem getting out fast so this time I made sure I did that. But then coming around the last stretch, this girl from Crossett who I had never raced against started gaining on me and I barely beat her at the end. But I know if she hadn’t been there I wouldn’t have broken the record. She pushed me to finish strong and that’s why I got it.”

Lexi also admitted that breaking her mother’s record has been a goal since she began running the 400-meters as a junior.

In her first year of competing in the event, she came close to breaking 58 seconds, and felt like 57.24, which was also a state record at the time, was within her reach the following year.

“All year she’s been really supporting me,” Lexi said. “I guess maybe in a way she wanted to keep it, but she was really happy for me. She was screaming and cheering so it was nice. She was happy her own daughter was the one to break it.”

Tori Weeks and McWilliams finished first and second in the 300-meter hurdles. Tori broke another school record in the event with a time of 44.6, and McWilliams ran it in 46.02, beating her state meet time by .6 seconds.

Tori and Lexi now hold a combined 11 school records, including two relay records they hold together. Tori holds five event records, including the triple jump, 300 hurdles, 800-meter race and the 400- and 1,600-meter relays.

Lexi holds five event records, including pole vault, long jump, 400-meter and the two relays, plus the school record in total points in the heptathlon. They finished second and third in the 2014 heptathlon.

Cabot senior Micah Huckabee won the 1,600-meter race by a good margin, finishing five seconds off her personal best, but still beating everyone else by at least 14 seconds with a time of 5:04.83. Huckabee did not run in the 3,200, but her 11:21 time at the 7A meet would have won on Saturday by nine seconds.

Cabot took second in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 49.07, just .21 seconds behind Conway. The girls’ 4x800-meter relay team finished seventh for two points.

The Cabot boys’ team scored 11 points on Saturday. Brayden Mercantel got six of them with a third-place finish in the 1,600-meter race behind Texarkana’s Tyler Braswell and Harrison’s Seth Waters. Senior Brandon Jones took seventh in the discus with a throw of 141.06. Sophomore Britton Alley finished eighth in the 200-meter dash, and the 4x400-meter relay team finished in eighth place for a point.

Other local athletes to perform well included Jacksonville Lighthouse Charter’s Jordan McNair, Lonoke’s Justin Meadows and Beebe’s Connor Patrom. McNair, the two-time Class 1A 100-meter dash champion, took fourth on Saturday behind Henri Murphy of Dollarway and Timothy Stuckey and Andrew Bishop of Texarkana.

Meadows finished second behind Fayetteville’s Caleb Cooper in the triple jump. Cooper’s jump of 45-10 was just 6 1/2 inches better than Meadows.

Patrom, the 5A state long jump champion, finished eighth on Saturday.