FORT SMITH -- The Siloam Springs varsity girls cross country team opened its season Saturday with a first-place finish at the Fort Smith Invitational held at Ben Geren Park.
The five-time defending Class 5A champion Lady Panthers overcame hot temperatures and recorded a team score of 51 points in the 5A/6A division. Siloam Springs had five runners place in the top 15 despite having some of its top runners having to withdraw due to the heat.
"The weather was awful -- ridiculously hot, the air thick with humidity," said head coach Sharon Jones. "Our times were all slower than what they're capable of. I told them not to look at their times, that this meet was about surviving.
Fort Smith Northside finished second with 76 points, followed by Bentonville West 78, Greenwood 84, Van Buren 104, Russellville 106 and Fort Smith Southside 178.
Junior Quincy Efurd finished sixth overall to lead the Lady panthers with a time of 23 minutes, 10 seconds.
Sophomore Kadynce Frost took seventh overall at 23:18.9, while senior Rebekah Rodgers was 10th at 23:41.6.
Sophomore Jaclyn Weilnau placed 13th at 24:52.7, while senior Kailey Pentz placed 15th at 25:05.4.
"Kadynce led our girls until the last half mile of the race, when Quincy took over and finished first," Jones said. "Both girls ran really strong races. ... Rebekah, Jaclyn, and Kailey came through for us to score, followed by Bethany (Mejia). These girls are so tough. They all are. I know some struggled more with the heat than others though."
Junior Bethany Mejia ran a time of 25:14.0 to place 16th with sophomore Laurel Granderson in 26th at 27:23.4.
Also running for Siloam Springs was junior Kendra Reimer 27:39.7, sophomore Shayla Conley 29:21.5, junior Abby Thompson 29:27.4, sophomore Leslie Cea 32:08.2, sophomore Sidney Pfeiffer 33:10.8 and senior Mary Grace Green 34:19.5.
Greenwood's Taylor Koeth was the top overall finisher with a time of 20:45.1.
The Siloam Springs boys placed second overall in the varsity boys meet.
Bentonville West finished with five runners in the top 10 and scored 28 points to take first place, followed by Siloam Springs 76, Russellville 92, Van Buren 103, Fort Smith Southside 121, Greenwood 145, Fort Smith Northside 171 and Alma 201.
West's Keegan Terrell placed first overall with a time of 18:00.1.
Junior Michael Capehart was the Panthers' top finisher with a time of 19:11.4.
Junior Blake Morrison came in 11th place at 19:16.0, while senior Ricardo Montano-Lozano placed 12th at 19:23.4
Sophomore Liam Scott placed 16th with a PR of 20:01.3 with sophomore Javier Chavez placing 28th at 20:43.0.
Senior Adam Kennedy was the Panthers' sixth place finisher at 21:18.9 for 36th overall, while junior Ben Humphries was 41st at 22:12.2.
"Ricky Montano-Lozano was the front runner for us early and set a fast pace," Jones said. "Michael and Blake ran with him. Liam and Javier both trailed closely, followed by Adam and then a steady stream of panthers after that. I'm happy we're not seeing huge gaps between runners this year."
Also running for Siloam Springs was sophomores Thad Goetz 22:48.5, Nathen Thurstenson a PR of 22:50.7, Jordyn Baskins 23:39.1, Zach Jones 23:40.4, Cade Gunter 23:55.8, Truman Janes 24.22.3, senior Blaise Becan 24:29.4, sophomore Malachi Becan 24:32.4, sophomore Daxton Spence 25:06.8 and senior Joseph Humphries 26:57.8.
"Our boys team is three times larger than it was last year," Jones said. "We have a lot of potential this year to turn some heads. Our less experienced boys have yet to figure out the pacing for a 5K, but they're getting stronger and more confident all the time. This is an exciting year for them."
The Siloam Springs cross country teams will be back in action on Saturday for their home meet -- the Panther Cross Country Classic -- on the grounds of Simmons Foods off of Lincoln
A Fun Run is available for grades 1-3 at 8:30 a.m. followed by another run for grades 4-6.
The high school boys 5K will begin at 9 a.m., followed by the high school girls at 9:30 a.m., junior high boys at 10 a.m. and junior high girls at 10:30 a.m.
"We are supposed to have a good crowd," Jones said. "Early registration shows more than 1,200 runners coming to our course. We'll have some great competition, so hopefully we can recover and be ready to show out."
There will be a small school (classes 1A-4A) and large school (5A-6A) division and medals will go to the top 20 individuals in each division for boys and girls.Sports on 09/11/2019
Print Headline: Girls XC overcomes heat, wins first place