28th Annual Frank Horton Invitational

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2016 Frank Horton Meet Review

Can you say high humidity?  Ugh.  One of the advantages of having a cross country meet in the morning is to avoid the high heat.  And the Frank Horton certainly did this year, except for maybe a bit on the heavy humidity side.  But that did not seem to take the shine off a very talented group of runners coming into this 28th year for the meet.  Local and out of town runners were here to show how strong they are at this time of the season and show they did! 

The girls varsity kicked off at 8:15am sharp.  I was standing by the named tree area (can't say I really know what that area is called??) and watching the runners go by, it really has the feel of a real cross country course.  This course winds through the trees and is basically cut out of the brush.  This is really how a cross country course should be designed. 

Anyways, back to the athletes.  The two top Arlington girls went quickly to the lead by the time they hit the first quarter mile area.  Those were Skylar Boogerd and Erica Fisher.  They were followed closely by a much focused Ella Baran of Houston and Chloe Willis of White Station.  That was a fast start and obviously making a point to everyone out there that you better be ready today or you'll be left in some of that dust along the dry parts of the course.  

    

Michelle Myers (Houston) and Anna Claire Lusk of Dyer County were also in the next group behind them.  And patiently sitting back at that point was a tightly packed group of four West Plains athletes.  I believe those girls were Kale Hatley, Mia Harris, McKenzie Bergman and Whitneigh Drown. 


With the West Plains girls so close, it seems the Houston team dominance was certainly in jeopardy at that point.  Now getting close to the mile point, the packs started to spread out just a bit with Erica Fisher taking to the front, followed by Ella and then Skylar.  Leah Johnson of Hattiseburg was tucked in with the Dyer County athlete. And then that same group of West Plains - the Zizzers - athletes makes their way huddled together and obviously feeding off each other as they crept their way up closer to the lead girls.   

              

Just past the two mile mark and starting up the winding hill, Ella Baran decided to make her move and pass Erica Fisher.  Skylar still held on to the third spot at the point but the Hattiesburg junior, Leah,  started her move to get ahead of Anna Claire of Dyer Co.  The West Plains girls started to break up a bit at that point as well with Kalee and Mia making their own moves after that two mile mark. 

Heading into the home stretch and as the athletes came out of the trees just before the 3 mile mark, you can see that Houston's junior, Ella Baran, had taken a pretty sizable lead.  I wouldn't exactly say that the other athletes were fading; it just looked like Ella had the strongest kick near the end of that race today.  Ella finished with an 18:17.28, about thirty seconds ahead of Erica Fisher.  Skylar also didn't waiver a bit during the course and stayed her spot in third with a 19:05.72 that was her fastest time so far this season. 

The West Plains group spread out a bit by the end of the race, but posted a strong second place team finish with Kalee Hatley (19:13.18) coming in fourth overall and freshman Mia Harris (19:21.80) taking the fifth overall spot.  McKenzie Bergman (19:33.68), Whitneigh Drown (19:59.87) and Megan Donaue (22:56.61) rounding out their top five performers and getting 73 points total.  Getting the third overall team spot was the Arlington girls; obviously lead off with Erica and Sklylar's performances today.  Their 96 points were helped with Gracelyn Walls (19:38), Chloe Biggs (21:54) and Samantha Anderson (23:42). 

The Houston girls had to fight for it today, but did take home the crown with Ella leading the way for the team this week as they totaled 66 points for the day.  As you would expect if you've been keeping up with these girls at Houston, the remaining girls were not very far behind at all.  Michelle Myers (19:44.92) at 11th overall, followed closely by Anna Tankerlsey (20:33.82), freshman Brenna Riseling (21:12.84) and in the fifth team spot was senior Caroline Exley with a 21:44.34.  That team tagged the 1st, 10th, 13th, 19th, and 23rd spots in the team competition and really put an explanation point on the teamwork part of this competition.  I knew this Girls Varsity race was going to be a good one, but didn't expect it to be that good!  That was a fun race to watch!

               

The boys had to really put on a show to beat out the girls, and I'd have to say that they did their best at that for sure!  Coming into the race, the West Plains group was one to really keep an eye on with some of the best runners around on the team.  Their red and white uniforms certainly help make it easy to spot them... well, that and the fact that they ran out in the front and were the first ones you would see at each turn, yea, that helped too. 

The early parts of the race were interspersed into several small groups among the top runners at this meet.  West Plains athletes Jacob McCrakin and Ben Stasney worked the early lead with Christopher Rayder of Houston).  Bartlett's Luke McNair was right there shoulder to shoulder with West Plains Ethan Hutchinson through the early half of the race.  Christian Brothers Kyle Edwards, Chance Rone of Bolton, Arlington's Ryan Redman, White Stations Foster Hudsmith were all up in the top ten early on too. 

           

As the race was closing in on the end, it was clear the West Plains top three athletes were going to surprise no one.  Jacob McCrackin won in a very fast time of 15:53.23 with Ben Stasney second in 16:00.73 and in the bronze spot was their teammate Ethan Hutchinson at 16:08.23.  Not that this was a surprise, but running a 16:11.48 to post his best time this season was Houston's Christopher Rayder.  I knew this athlete was ready to throw out a great race and he certainly did here at the 28th Frank Horton meet.   The fastest local finisher, and after all the adversity he's had to face over the past year, a result that most people are very happy to see!  Great run!

Luke McNair of Bartlett came in 5th overall with a time of 16:15.85.  And I'll talk a bit about teams later, but there certainly were a lot of Bartlett uniforms coming in early on in this race.  Chance Rone of Bolton was behind Luke in sixth with 16:23.36.  The top ten finishers at this meet were all under the 16:30 mark.  Seventh place finisher, Anthony Lloyd of Westminster ran 16:24.35, Ryan Redman of Arlington ran 16:25.95, Foster Hudsmith (White station) ran 16:26.26 and in the tenth overall spot was Christian Brothers senior Kyle Edwards at 16:28.09.  Actually, the top 20 finishers all ran under 17 minutes and proved the new course for Frank Horton was fast but not exactly a push over by any means! 

    

                            

When I looked through the pre-race standings, I knew we would see some strong performances by a lot of the teams coming into this meet.  West Plains, Houston, Collierville, Bartlett.... The top five teams here though really did surprise me!  I knew it would be tight and in cross country it's just difficult to predict how all five scorers for a team will perform at any given time.  However, it's really not a surprise when you look at the results here.   Bartlett won the overall and like I said earlier, the number of Bartlett jerseys running by me early on in the race was a sure sign they were running well this day.  With a four point lead over a very strong West Plains group from Missouri, Bartlett took the title and made a loud statement that this school, in both track and cross country, is definitely back at the top and going to stay there!!   I did not expect Bartlett to run this well this early, but they did and that's great for the sport! 

Luke McNair is the obvious front runner for this team.  I was watching these guys as they were running and they were all well aware of each other and even seemed to talk and encourage each other while they were running.  That doesn't always happen.  Especially while you're in the middle of racing!  But that's teamwork, isn't it!  Jason Hamilton (16:42) was the next finisher after Luke, then Jackson Williams (16:44.85), Brendan Hill (16:56), and finishing up in 24th team spot was Benjamin Homeyer at 17:13.33.  And by the way, Luke is the only senior in this top group so expect them to be around a very long time!


And to end off this review of the meet, I really need to put a few words about the host team. Christian Brothers high school team started out the season with what I would call a fairly decent team, but not exactly a power group.  But in the last few weeks, this team has gelled and developed to a group that is learning how to race.  Kyle Edwards leads the team, especially with todays 22 second season best performance.  The rest of the team all had season best times, Zach Brazil had an eleven second best, Thomas Shallow a six second best, Constatine Campbell and big twenty two seconds and Gabe Roberts a solid six second improvement for this season.  This team came in fifth in this meet.  You would think with that many teammates running solid times at this race, it's no doubt they are up for a very good year.

This was the 28th running of the Frank Horton cross country race.  It's a race that everyone in the Memphis area looks forward to each season.  One that nobody wants to miss.  A new course and a fast one at that, well, heck, it's one that nobody should miss! 

See you on the track... and the grass!

Coach Ted



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