Panthers take 4th at Meet of Champs

PEARCY – The Benton Panthers track and field team competed in four events in the Meet of Champs at Lake Hamilton High School in Pearcy on Saturday and finished fourth overall with 29 points. Vilonia took first with 52 points, followed by Conway (40) and Heber Springs (32). Bentonville and Rogers each had 28 points, coming behind Benton.

As usual, senior runner Zach Riley led the way for Benton, winning the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes. Riley won the 100 in a time of 10.75 and the 200 in 21.67.

“Zach took care of business in the 100 and 200,” Benton Coach Lewis Pryor said. “He had a good day. The races were kind of close, but he wasn’t really challenged.”

The Panthers also competed in the 4x100m relay and finished third behind Mills and North Little Rock in a time of 42.59. Benton’s foursome of sophomore Shaun Carey, senior Desmond Mauldin, junior Wallace Foote and Riley almost broke their personal record of 42.57 set at the 6A State Championships the previous week, and would have if not for a bad exchange.

“Didn’t get a good handoff in one of the exchanges,” Pryor said. “We ran a 42.59, which is only two hundreths of a second off our record. The winning time was 41.58; that’s Mills and they’re legit. North Little Rock beat us in a 42-flat.

“The Meet of Champs is exactly what it is. It’s gravy on the biscuit. [The 4x100m relay team] did OK. They broke 43 again, could have probably run a little better. Might have set a record if we had a good exchange.”

The team of senior Alex Bowling, Foote, Mauldin and Riley also competed in the 4x400m relay and finished in sixth place with a time of 3:30.29
“The way it worked out, we weren’t really in the hunt,” Pryor said. “Ran a 3:30, which is not slouchy at all. Overall that’s not bad. The winning time was Alma at 3:20.87 and they’re legit. We had a good day.”

Benton’s track and field season isn’t over yet as three Panther athletes are competing in a decathlon at Hot Springs High School yesterday and today.

“I’ve got three going,” Pryor said. “Kevin Humble is going, who did well last year as a sophomore. Two of my seniors have decided to try it: Alex Bowling and Parker Vrana, which is going to be an experience for them.”
Overall, though, Benton’s track and field season has been a successful one according to Pryor.

“It was real good,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for a better one. We did fine. Zach was our bell cow, but the rest of them responded to him. That’s what you hope for when you get one like him, you got to raise everybody else’s level a little bit. There’s no doubt that’s what happened. It was a good year.”