Cross country: Willis bounces back, leads Bentonville to girls title

HOT SPRINGS -- It was all about retribution for Tori Willis.

The Bentonville sophomore, who struggled at the 7A-West Conference meet last week, bounced back in a big way as she won the Class 7A state individual championship during Saturday's meet at Oaklawn Park.

Arkansas High School Girls Cross Country Championships

Saturday at Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs

Class 7A

Team scores — 1. Bentonville High 36; 2. Fayetteville 46; 3. Rogers High 52; 4. Conway 148; 5. Springdale Har-Ber 160.

Individual results — 1. Tori Willis, Bentonville, 19:02.5; 2. Halle Gilreath, Rogers, 19:08.4; 3. Aubre Gilreath, Rogers, 19:08.6; 4. Sophie Quandt, Bentonville, 19:18.6; 5. Rachel Allen, Fayetteville, 19:30.1; 6. Morganne Browning, Fayetteville, 19:34.3; 7. Krista Herlin, Bentonville, 19:39.3; 8. Emily Efurd, Rogers, 19:40.2; 9. Corrie Purcell, Fayetteville, 19:44.2; 10. Rebecca Boushelle, Fayetteville, 19:44.5.

Class 6A

Team scores — 1. Siloam Springs 33; 2. Lake Hamilton 49; 3. Russellville 69; 4. Greenwood 145; 5. Mountain Home 146.

Individual results — 1. Josie Carson, Lake Hamilton, 19:41.9; 2. Charissa Helms, Russellville, 20:03.8; 3. Jasmine Guillen, Siloam Springs, 20:17.9; 4. Chloe McGooden, Siloam Springs, 20:33; 5. Morgan Pruitt, Lake Hamilton, 20:34.9; 6. Astrid Christensen, Russellville, 20:40.9; 7. Allika Pearson, Siloam Springs, 20:45.5; 8. Candy Dubon, Siloam Springs, 20:47.2; 9. Taylor Koeth, Greenwood, 21:03.1; 10. Anacaron Ramos, Lake Hamilton, 21:04.2

Class 5A

Team scores — 1. Little Rock Christian 59; 2. Vilonia 87; 3. De Queen 104; 4. Harrison 115; 5. Valley View 185.

Individual results — 1. Jillian Jones, Batesville, 19:47.7; 2. Bryn Westby, Vilonia, 20:18.5; 3. Rachel Barnhardt, Greenbrier, 20:44.7; 4. Ruthy Ryan, Harrison, 20:50.6; 5. Grace Ann Dickey, LR Christian, 20:53.9; 6. Allyson Patton, Harrison, 21:05.1; 7. Emily Leding, Pulaski Academy, 21:07.4; 8. Allison Risius, LR Christian, 21:12.9; 9. Lauren Millikin, Vilonia, 21:16.8; 10. Victoria Ortega, Maumelle, 21:20.2.

Class 4A

Team scores — 1. Heber Springs 63; 2. Berryville 72; 3. Pottsville 95; 4. Huntsville 109; 5. West Fork 147.

Individual results — 1. Gracie Hyde, Lonoke, 19:47.5; 2. Bekah Bostian, Prairie Grove, 19:51.2; 3. Kendall Hays, West Fork, 20:25.4; 4. Samantha Preston, Berryville, 21:12; 5. Skylar Campbell, Pottsville, 21:16.4; 6. Berenice Garcia, Gravette, 21:18.3; 7. Ali Jones, Heber Springs, 21:26.6; 8. Shannon Lasey, Pottsville, 21:38.6; 9. Lizzy Braswell, Huntsville, 21:39.6; 10. Evelin Santaclara, Pulaski Robinson, 21:44.6.

Class 3A

Team scores — 1. Genoa Central 37; 2. Green Forest 82; 3. Harding Academy 97; 4. Greenland 110; 5. Haas Hall Academy 122

Individual results — 1. Shelby Bowman, Greenland, 20:28.9; 2. Tera Frost, Genoa Central, 20:35.6; 3. Joanna White, Harding Academy, 20:46.8; 4. Caroline Citty, Harding Academy, 20:54.9; 5. Angela Saitta, Haas Hall, 21:18.4; 6. Karina Maravillas, Green Forest, 21:20.8; 7. Victoria Hill, Genoa Central, 21:27.5; 8. Hannah Howry, Genoa Central, 21:35.7; 9. Janie Bentley, Genoa Central, 21:44.1; 10. Callie Ray, Valley Springs, 22:09.1.

Class 1A/2A

Team scores — 1. Quitman 36, 2. Acorn 56; 3. Western Yell County 85; 4. Eureka Springs 113; 5. Woodlawn 160.

Individual results — 1. Jamison Maass, Haas Hall Bentonville, 19:33.7; 2. Gabi Bloch, Eureka Springs, 19:39.3; 3. Andrea Balbuena, Western Yell County, 20:26.3; 4. Hailey Trawick, Quitman, 20:37.1; 5. Halle Bennett, Quitman, 20:41.2; 6. Elizabeth Heffernan, Arkansas Arts Academy, 21:02.8; 7. Faith Hill, Acorn, 21:26.9; 8. Morgan Fagan, Acorn, 21:30.5; 9. Erin Stephens, Quitman, 21:30.5; 10. Jana Avery, Parkers Chapel, 21:54.5.

Willis pulled away from Rogers High's Halle and Aubre Gilreath on the final stretch and crossed the finish line in 19 minutes, 2.5 seconds. Halle Gilreath finished second in 19:08.4, just two-10ths of a second ahead of her twin sister.

"It really motivated me more because I knew I had a bad race," Willis said of the conference race, when she finished eighth. "I wasn't sure if everybody else knew that. I wanted to push harder and prove I had a bad race.

"I wasn't worried about time because we were going at a good pace. I was in the same situation when I ran here at the Lake Hamilton Invitational. I was just going to use that strategy: go ahead and pass her at the straight stretch."

Willis' performance also helped Bentonville High capture its third consecutive state title. The Lady Tigers put two more runners among the top seven finishers and scored 36 points, while Fayetteville was second at 46 and Rogers High took third with 52 points.

Sophie Quandt, who also competed for Bentonville in the state dance competition earlier in the day, took fourth at 19:18.6, while Krista Herlin provided a key performance when she finished seventh at 19:39.3.

"When you get to a state meeting, you never know what is going to happen," Bentonville coach Randy Ramaker said. "When it's on the line, we tend to run well. It was on the line, and a lot of girls stepped up and ran well. I don't think anybody ran poorly."

Siloam Springs, meanwhile, also came away with its third straight Class 6A state title with a similar formula. The Lady Panthers placed all five runners in the top 11 and finished with 33 points to 49 for runnerup Lake Hamilton.

"I was really proud of our girls," Siloam Springs coach Sharon Jones said. "Our girls stayed together up front, which was our plan, and they did it.

"They're hurting. They put everything they had in this race, and I think all of them had a PR. It was a good day."

Jasmine Guillen led the Lady Panthers with a third-place finish, turning in a time of 20:17.9, while Chloe McGooden was fourth at 20:33. Allika Pearson and Candy Dubon added to Siloam Springs' cause by finishing eighth and ninth, respectively.

Lake Hamilton's Josie Carson was also a three-time individual winner with her time of 19:41.9, almost 22 seconds faster than runnerup Charissa Helms of Russellville.

In other races:

Class 4A

One defending state champion was bound to be beaten as Bekah Bostain of Prairie Grove, last year's 4A winner, ran against West Fork's Kendall Hays, who took the Class 3A individual title last year.

Gracie Hyde of Lonoke made sure neither remained on top. Hyde used a late surge to capture the individual title with a time of 19:47.5, almost 4 seconds faster than Bostain, while Hays took third at 20:25.12.

Heber Springs scored 63 points to win the team championship, while Berryville finished second with 72. Three other Northwest Arkansas schools -- Huntsville (109), West Fork (147) and Gravette (148) -- took fourth through sixth places, respectively.

Class 3A

Shelby Bowman was about to be content with a top-three finish this year before the opportunity to be even better presented itself.

The Greenland senior used a last-minute charge to pass Genoa Central's Tera Frost and capture the individual title. Bowman's time was 20:28.9, almost 7 seconds faster than Frost, who beat Bowman at last year's race.

"I was going to give it to her," Bowman said. "But I thought she was dying. I just wanted to get in the top three because I've finished fourth the past two years, and I really wanted to get it because it was my senior year."

Bowman helped the Lady Pirates with a fourth-place finish with 110 points. Genoa Central cruised to a team championship with 37 points, while Green Forest was a distant second with 82.

Class 1A/2A

Haas Hall Bentonville freshman Jamison Haass, in only her third 5-kilometer race this year, had enough to come away with the individual title.

Haass held off Eureka Springs' Gaby Bloch near the end and crossed the finish line in 19:33.7, almost 6 seconds faster than Bloch.

"It feels good knowing that all my hard work paid off," Haass said. "I had been running junior high in everything but the conference meet and the Chile Pepper, and it pushed me a lot. I really wanted to PR and did it.

"I was just going to go out slow, but then I decided to run my race and did. I had to keep looking back and making sure the Eureka Springs girls wasn't creeping up on me."

Bloch, however, helped Eureka Springs take a fourth-palce finish with 113 points. Quitman won the team title with 36 points, followed by Acorn with 56.

Sports on 11/13/2016

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