Racing under the lights.

2012 Brooks Memphis Twilight XC Classic: Arkansas Edition

Arkansas Cycling & Fitness.

(We don’t normally cover many high school or college sports but Nicholas was kind enough to share a recent event which showcases some of the up and coming runners from Arkansas. We thought you should know about these folks.)

Cross Country season is officially underway for many schools in Arkansas.  From middle school to collegiate runners, the 2012 Brooks Memphis Twilight XC Classic was an opportunity to put the intense training to the test.  Referred to by several as the largest twilight cross country meet in the nation, expectations were optimistic on the fast course.  Mike Rose Soccer Complex is where the action took place.

The Mike Rose Soccer Complex
The Mike Rose Soccer Complex

The temperature was in the 90s and there was not a shortage of humidity in the air.   In the wake of Hurricane Isaac, the fields were surprisingly in decent condition, but there were a few soggy, squishy spots runners had to negotiate.  The course was very spectator-friendly.  One could watch the runners do loops on a well-lit course and then head to the stadium for the sprint to the finish.

The lineup.
The lineup.

Middle and high schools from Arkansas that competed were DeWitt, Episcopal Collegiate School, Hughes, Jonesboro, Marion, Melbourne, Mountain Home, Nettleton, Valley View, and Van Buren.

Varsity Girls’ 5k

Cassidy Hale, SR, duPont Manual, won in 18:38.51, after making a move after the first mile.   This was her second win, as she also won as a freshman.  The highest Arkansas finisher, Kyandra Chandler, SO, Nettleton, ran 19:19.75 to finish fourth.  She ran the majority of the race in second, until Whitney O’Bryan, JR, Daviess County (19:12.70) and Rebecca Buteau, FR, Madison Central (19.19.75) overtook her in the final stretch.

Varsity Boys‘ 5k

Brentwood High School employed team tactics to claim first (16:27.68), second (16:27.74), and fourth (16:38.18).  Taylor Caldwell, JR, and Alec Thomas, JR, allowed Carter Shelton, SO, Valley View High School to push the pace pursing him until the mile 2 break.  They ran side by side from that point on.  Ben Moroney, SR, Trinity Christian finished strong (16:35.06), passing Aaron Thomas, JR, denying the Brentwood sweep.

Bad weather loomed during the varsity boys’ race.  It wasn’t long until the downpour came and spectators became runners, too, speeding to their vehicles.  After about a 2-hour rain delay, the college races commenced.  The course was saturated.  Some spectators remained, however, because of the rain, the amount of people dwindled tremendously.

The colleges from Arkansas that made the trip were Arkansas State University, Arkansas Tech University, Harding, Southern Arkansas University, and University of Central Arkansas.

Racing under the lights.
Racing under the lights.

College Women’s 5k

Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) and Arkansas State University (ASU) took the top 7 spots.  EKU took first, third, fourth, and sixth.  ASU followed with second, fifth, and seventh place.  Because of this both universities secured their places atop the team leaderboard.  Ole Miss acquired third.

Abbie Ashbee-Simmonds, FR, Murray State, led until the first mile. EKU then started their charge to take over the lead.  It was never relinquished.  Meri Rantanen, FR, Eastern Kentucky University, (18:11.74) held off Kristina Aubert, SO, Arkansas State University, (18:24.27).  Viivi Rantanen, FR, Eastern Kentucky University, was third in 18:35.65. 

College Men’s 4-Mile

The final race of the night did not disappoint.  Having to run four loops on a course that had sustained rain and other runners, provided for a “real” cross country race experience.  What started earlier in the evening as a decent course developed into a muddy mess.

As with the college women’s race, Eastern Kentucky University proved they were a force to be reckoned with this year.  In addition to sweeping the top 3 spots, they took 10 of the top 15 spots. 

Soufiane Bouchikhi, JR, (20:43.95), Thijs Nijhuis, SO, (20:43.99), Ben Toroitich, SO, (20:44.03) crossed the finish line in style holding hands to seal the victory. 

Morehead State University lead by Zach Elliott, JR, (21:04.33) was second and Corentin Louis, FR, (21:48.43) lead the way for University of Central Arkansas to finish third in the team standings.

Other Notes

Dardanelle High School graduate, Carter Witt, FR, Blue Mountain College, made his collegiate debut running 23:00.04 in the college men’s 4-mile run. 

Hughes and Nettleton were the only Arkansas teams competing in the middle school boys’ and girls’ 2000m.  Both had individual runners that finished in the top 10 of the girls’ 2000m.  Kyana Chandler, Nettelton, ran 8:01.40 to finish fifth.  Paris Perkins, Hughes, placed tenth with 8:16.54.

The meet featured Valley View’s Carter Shelton (4A) and Episcopal Collegiate School’s Zack McGinnis (3A).  Both were XC State Runner-ups last year in their respective classifications.  Both will be running at the Conway Wampus Cat Invitational later this month.

The Community Bicyclist

Results by AllTrax Timing 

When I’m not running, volunteering, or writing, you can usually find me lurking on Twitter @absolut_zer0 or reporting on races in the great state of Arkansas for Pace Per Mile.

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