Lions defend ‘Chili Pepper’ crown in Fayetteville
The Lockhart Lions successfully defended their 2009 Arkansas “Chili Pepper” invitational championship on Saturday, Oct. 17, in sunny Fayetteville, Arkansas.
The Lion harriers won the open division team championship by beating a huge field of 41 high schools. Lockhart scored only 62 points en route to the team title. Tupelo High School from Tupelo, Miss., finished se
cond with 99 points. Cabot High from Oklahoma placed third with 100.
A field of 502 runners assembled for the race. A one-two finish by teammates Nate Moore and Robert Uhr led the way for the Lions.
Moore, a junior, defended his individual championship as he ran the 5,000-meter course in 16:15. Moore defeated his nearest competitor, Uhr – also from Lockhart, by 25 seconds.
“Anytime you finish a cross country race with first and second place finishers it is a special day, but when 500 runners were chase your guys it is really amazing to watch,” Head Coach Scott Hippensteel said. “These guys have run all summer to accomplish moments like this.”
Junior Eli Spring ran a great race, finishing in ninth place overall. Spring had a time of 17:30, just one minute and thirteen seconds by the overall winner. Sophomore Nicholas Avey placed 20th with a time of 17:38. Spring and Avey have improved rapidly in the last month and are peaking at just the right time, with the District Championships looming in two weeks.
Completing the scoring was senior Mitchell McRee, who placed 30th in a time of 17:57. McCree struggled possibly, due to dust in the air. The course was extremely dry and dusty which seemed to cause breathing problems for some of the runners on Saturday, Hippensteel noted.
Senior Mack O’Neill unofficially finished at the same time as McRee, but was not given credit for his race because he didn’t cross the line with a chip on his foot which times each runner in the race.
The next five runners to finish for Lockhart were all sophomores: Xavier Espinosa – 85th, (18:45); Colton Russell – 151st, (19:23); Mario Maciel – 175th, (19:31); Derrick Hendricks – 177th, (19:39); and Francisco Mendez – 218th, (20:06).
Notably, Moore’s performance on Saturday marks the third consecutive year a Lion harrier has won the open division at the Arkansas Invitational, and the fifth time in 12 years a Lion has dominated the field.
The JV Lions will travel to Seguin for the Texas Lutheran Invitation on Saturday, Oct. 23, and Lockhart will host the District Championships on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, in Lockhart City Park.
(Courtesy of Scott Hippensteel)