Billie senior shows talent
By the time Caleb Clair gets to the Class 4A State Cross Country Championships on Nov. 3, the Monticello senior will have experienced just about every race situation. That should bode well for the Billies at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs.
Clair was again the top 4A finisher in a big race, finishing 35th in the senior boys’ open division of the Chile Pepper Cross Country Invitational at the University of Arkansas’ Agri Park Saturday. Alone that might not mean much, until it’s understood the last of the 887 competitors over the five-kilometer course crossed the finish line some 25 minutes after him.
Clair’s time of 17 minutes 41.1 seconds was just more than a minute slower than Albert Serrano of Cumby, Texas, Miller Grove, and placed him among the top 4 percent of runners to navigate the course. Clair and Gravette’s Rob Barrios were the only Arkansas 4A runners to crack the top 300—and Barrios finished 294th.
It’s safe to say Monticello will have the odds-on favorite to win the boys’ individual title in Hot Springs. Clair’s chances are probably even greater than former Lady Billie Sara Claycomb, who brought three consecutive individual championships back to Southeast Arkansas a just a few seasons ago.
While he was ecstatic over what Clair was able to accomplish, Monticello cross country coach Shawn Curtis was quick to point out other solid performances.
Four boys and four girls completed the 5K course for the Billies and Lady Billies.
“Overall, I feel they did well,” Curtis said. “We have some that are nursing injuries and sicknesses, but for a lot of them, there was an improvement in times. Highlighting the Billies’ experience was Caleb but some other highlights were (Carlton) Talley, (Jackson) Hollis and (Braydn) Curtis all dropping time for the boys. For the Lady Billies, it was Holly Turner, shattering her (personal best) by over two minutes.”
Hollis, a sophomore, was the next Billie to cross the finish line, placing 494th in a time of 21:31.7. Tally, a junior, was next, clocking 23:01.7 for 664th place. Bradyn Curtis, another sophomore, ran 24:30.8 and finished 768th.
For the Lady Billies, Turner’s 32:43.4 helped her finish 510th of 583 senior girls’ runners. Junior Tyneisha Nolen clocked 26:03.2 to lead the Monticello girls across the finish line in 273rd place, while Turner’s senior teammates, Samantha Pennington and Kaylyn Smith, finished together in 431st and 432nd place, respectively. Pennington’s time was record as 29:15.9 and Smith clocked a 29:17.1.
The University of Arkansas at Monticello men were also among the 5,264 competitors in 11 races. The Boll Weevils wound up 40th in the men’s collegiate 10K.
Sophomore Johnmark Perry was the first UAM runner to finish, coming in 315th (248th in terms of scoring) with a time of 45:28.6. Freshman Jacob Bowman was next, clocking 50:21.5 to finish 322nd (254th in scoring), followed by junior
Victor Gomez (323rd, 255th—50:34.9). Freshmen Jacob Schwantz (327th, 258th—55:19.1) and Joseph Moore (330th, 261st—1 hour, 1 minute, 56.6 seconds) wrapped up the Weevils’ participation.