Perhaps the only thing harder than climbing to the top of the heap is staying there, or so it seems. The Greenwood Lady Bulldogs’ varsity cross county team, the defending 5A state champions, finished second behind Mountain Home last week at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs. The GHS boys also competed and placed eighth overall out of 23 total teams. Both GHS squads are led by Head Coach Jim Andrews.
“I feel we had a great season,” said the coach. “This year had its share of struggles with the pandemic, but I feel our runners rose to the challenge and came out winners. Macie Cash did what needed to be done to help our team, but we just fell a little short. We had late season injuries and things we [could not] control that kept us from [another] championship. I’m happy with the girls’ overall performance and being the state runner-up this season.
Cash, the team’s senior anchor and a college prospect, finished second (19:35.01) in the 5K run behind Marcie Cudworth of Mountain Home (19:02.51). Greenwood’s Madelyn Wilkinson placed ninth (20:15.32) and fellow sophomore Ashley Koeth ran twelfth with a time of 20:47.48.
Freshman Paige Andrews was 27th at 22:00.73 while teammate Kaitlynne Elmore, a sophomore, completed the course in 61st place (23:57.37). Freshman Addi Williams finished in 65th place (24:02.20). Another freshman, Amiela Morgan, placed 71st (24:16.49). Maddie Cash, the younger sister of Macie, also a ninth grader, finished in 94th place with a time of 25:18.10. Senior Madeline Ciesla finished with a time of 26:37.17 in 115th place out of 172 total runners.
Mountain Home won the state title with a low score of 69 points, followed by Greenwood (108), Vilonia (125), Benton (148), and Siloam Springs (156). The Lady Bulldogs won the title in 2019 with a low score of 65 points. This year’s event, including all classifications, was held over two days (November 5-6) at Oaklawn Park. It was the 39th girls’ championship awarded by the Arkansas Activities Association.
The Bulldogs placed eighth behind first-place Lake Hamilton, largely on the strength of Noah Embrey’s impressive performance, finishing second overall with a time of 16:28.24, just nine seconds off the lead. The next closest GHS runner was sophomore Gavin Ciesla in 30th place with a time of 17:51.29.
“Noah had an incredible season as a runner,” said Coach Andrews. “Finishing second in our 5A class is quite the accomplishment. The boys’ team did well and fought hard. We made some improvements and hope to add to it for next year.” The Bulldogs finished seventh in 2019 and Embrey improved from 11th place last year to second in 2020.
Other GHS boys to compete included Christian Wheeler, a freshman, with a time of 17:58.31, finishing in 34th place, and sophomore Hudson Trice (74th place) with a time of 18:54.49. Junior Trey Merreighn finished close behind Trice in 82nd place (19:13.17). Sophomore David Ambriz came in 95th (19:24.69) and senior Trey Smith (115th) ran the course in 20:04.56. Senior Riley Farr and junior Jordan Owens finished together (141-142) with times of 21:15.97 and 21:16.40, respectively. The field included a total of 191 runners.
Andrews also talked about his blossoming junior high program that has 19 boys and 25 girls in grades seven through nine. “Our Junior high team continues to grow and show promise that will help lead to continued success in the coming years. I am so proud of all these runners from all grades. I enjoy my job and love the support we get from our administration and school.”