Leader Blues

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

SPORTS>>Locals highlight 2007 MOC

Leader sportswriter

Two local athletes, Jeff Henderson of Sylvan Hills and Whitney Jones of Searcy, won multiple titles at the Meet of Champions track meet Wednesday at Cabot’s Panther Stadium.

For its 50th anniversary, recently crowned state champions in all classifications were on hand at Cabot High, including 17 student-athletes from The Leader coverage area that qualified for the prestigious event.

As most expected, Searcy’s junior phenom Whitney Jones stole the show, winning all four of her events, while setting a new state record with her win in the triple jump. Jones scored a 39’ 00.25” for the event, breaking her own overall and MOC records set last year during her sophomore year.

Her overall record was broken by 5.5”, and the 2006 Meet of Champs record was shattered by over a foot. Through all four events, Jones took the win virtually uncontested, beating Fort Smith Northside’s Teondra Poole in the 100-meter dash with a 12.58, exactly four-tenths better than Poole’s 12.98. Her second win for the evening came in the 200-meter dash. Jones ran a 25.05 in the 200, once again leaving Northside’s Poole behind by almost three quarters of a second. Her other win came in the long jump, once again beating out Poole for the win with an 18’ 03.00”.

Sylvan Hills senior Jeff Henderson took first place in two events, including setting his own Meet of Champs record in the triple jump. His leap of 47-03 eclipsed the previous record set in ?? by ??. Henderson won the long jump with a measurement of 24-00.00. The win was decisive, with Union Christian’s Dawson Urrutia posting a distant second place with a 22-09.50.

Sherwood area students participated in the girls 400-meter dash. Sylvan Hills sophomore Caron Van Hook took third in the race with a 1:00.27, while Abundant Life sophomore Hannah Pastor ran a 1:03.36 for an eighth-place finish.

A pair of Cabot students rounded out the local girls entries for individual competition. Lady Panther sophomore Tori Hendrix took a close second in the high jump, recording a jump of 5’2”, an inch off her seed measurement heading into the event. LRCA’s Patricia Elliot played the spoiler for Hendrix, beating her previous best with a 5’3” jump to take the win.

Junior Emily Carpenter was the only local girls long-distance participant. Carpenter took part in the 3200-meter run, scoring a fourth-place finish with a time of 12:05.47. Despite the solid year that got her into the Meet of Champs, Carpenter was visibly disappointed with her performance on the night.

“My time wasn’t very good today,” Carpenter said. “If I would have run my best time, I probably would have been up there with first and second, but it’s okay. I’m glad I did better at the state meets.” Carpenter says that while she was slightly let down with the performance, she is already looking forward to the chance to qualify and return to the Meet of Champs for her senior year in 2008.

“I’ve got one more chance, so I’m excited about that. I’ll be content with today; I enjoyed being here.”

The North Pulaski 400-meter relay team ran in one of the evening’s final events, finishing sixth with a time of 4:15.16. The team made up of seniors Lecreisha Cash and Tiffany Templeton, along with sophomore Amber Marcantel and freshman Claire Crews may not have competed for the win, but they were all smiles after the race was over.

“We’ve never been here before,” Cash said. “All of this is wonderful. It’s a great feeling to go out knowing you’ve made it this far.” Templeton, the only single-sport athlete of the group, echoed Cash’s sentiment.

“Lacreisha and I are seniors this year,” Templeton said. “So to be number one in state and actually make it here is an accomplishment unto itself, and I couldn’t have been here without the help of all my teammates. Even though we didn’t win, we gave it our all.”

Marcantel also mentioned her pride in winning the 4A state title, the first in North Pulaski school history, and making new friends.

“Making first in state was just awesome,” Marcantel said. “We are all really excited to be here to run in this event. I’m mostly glad I got the chance to meet these new people, I didn’t know them that well before, so I’m grateful that I got to compete with them.”

The girls then had a group hug after Marcantel’s sentimental statements before Crews summed up the whole experience.
“I’m a freshman, so it’s been a great experience for me,” Crews said. “I have three more years of this; so hopefully I can find another team as good as these guys and make it this far again. I just had fun this year.”

Cabot’s Nathan Johnson finished sixth in the 3200-meter run, recording a time of 10:05.45. James Kee of Harding Academy finished sixth in the shot put with a throw of 48-04.75.

In the only local relay entry on the boys side, the Cabot 800-meter relay team took third place behind West Helena and Rogers with a total time of 8:16.71.