The Brooks Twilight Saturday evening probably saw about the
best weather its had in many years. The
middle school races experienced the most heat but the later races were treated
to a nice cooling and a decent breeze.
It showed with the performances.
The top contenders came out to challenge this course and that they did! I have to say, I wasn't sure it was going to turn out the way it did for most of the races, but that's pretty much what cross country does to you. Maybe your strategy was to go out strong. Sometimes that can get you in the front and keep you there, sometimes it can break you down and leave you scratching your head.
Saturday night, Davis Bove of Centennial seemed to have a pretty good strategy that worked out well for him. He sat back a little in the very beginning but was able to surge forward after the first mile. Last years runner up, Silas Winders didn't have an answer to the surge and fell back behind Davis and Homewood's Will Stone a little past the half way point. With about a ten second lead over Will by the second mile, it seemed Davis could put it on cruise control and take it into the stadium. Of course, that cruise control was a new PR for Davis and looked like he was just having one of those days where everything seemed to work out in your favor! Yep, about over half a minute PR in your favor kind of day!
This meet seems to bring in a lot of top runners from allover the area and beyond. The top six runners here all went under 16:10. Bentonville's Luke Pabst came in in 16:08.13, which was just over a second to his career best and a sixth-place finish. With all Luke's teammates placing in the top 21 team spots and averaging 16:37 per athlete, that was a tough team to beat. Coming in 9th spot was Coleman Wilson (16:24), Dawson Mayberry in 17th with 15:44, Daniel Graham 20th with 16:55.18, and Dylan Mayberry 21st with 16:55.48 to round out this talented team.
Franklin High School scored 146 points to take the runner up spot to Bentonville's 73 points. Max Zani lead the way for the Franklin team by placing 4th overall in 16:04.39. That was about an 8 second PR for Max and matched his finishing spot at the Voyles Classic the previous week. I suppose two fourth place finishes, with one at this Twilight Classic, is a pretty good way to start. Considering he was 27th at the Twilight last year, and was able to better his time by over 40 seconds, it certainly is a good way to start!
Then setting his second PR this season was Cole Davis, Silas's teammate on the Henry County team with 16:06.42. That put Cole in 5th overall Saturday evening. This was a good forty second improvement on a career best set just the week before at the Voyles classic. That's not a bad trend to be on this early in the season.
I'm not sure if there is another family with as many talented runners as the Henry County Winders family. This year Silas didn't exactly have his greatest race, and that's funny saying that since third place in this meet is a pretty darn good accomplishment! But that didn't stop a Winders from winning. The girls race started out at 8pm and a group of runners took to the front. Several Rogers High School runners in their blue Adidas uniforms seem to dominate the front pack.
Then the race started to stretch out with Henry County Dinah Winders strolling to the lead. And behind her was Arlington Skylar Boogerd. Yep, there's a girl in the Winders pack and - go figure - she can run as well!
Behind these two leaders was a small pack with Breja Hooks of Oakland leading them and on her shoulders were Bentonville's Tori Willis, Homewood's Lainey Phelps, and I'm not sure if it was Roger's Anna Jeffcoat or Hailey Day, but the race was getting exciting.
Dinah was able to keep the lead by the time the got into the stadium. Skylar and Breja had a good race inside the stadium with Breja coming out to get the runner up spot in 18:46.44. Skylar getting in a time of 18:47.79 to be the first local athlete to cross the line. Although, Henry County isn't that far away and with the dominance of the Winders at this race, I'm wondering if we should consider this family local. Well, just a thought.
Lainey Phelps came in the 4th overall spot in 18:50 and Tori in 5th with a 19:05 to round out the sub 19:10 runners at this race.
The girls team race was a bit closer than the boys. Parkway West came in the top spot with 106 points to Bentonville's 116. Ten-point difference in the team standings is a pretty tight race. Parkway had their top five all come in the top 30 team spots and was the deciding factor on that win. Chloe Hershenow was the top Parkway finisher in the 9th overall and 8th team standing with her 19:26 time. Following Cloe was Claire Smout (20:09), then tightly packed in was the next three teammates. In the 25th spot was Leah Selm, in 26th spot was Emily Sipp and the fifth-place teammate was Emma Caplinger who came in 28th in the team scoring spots. That's a very tight grouping and the reason they were able to capture the team title this year.
This is the last year that Brooks is handling the title sponsorship. After sixteen years, they and Christian Brothers University has made this into one of the most coveted titles to grab for any athlete. It's also a major event for many schools to attend each season. Starting next year, let's see how much better this annual event can go... I'm certainly excited to see it get even better!
See you on the track... and on the grass!