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The Pea Ridge Lady Blackhawk track team made a powerful statement at the 2018 Arkansas 4A/3A/2A/1A State Indoor Track and Field Championships. They won six events, set a new state record and won the team title going away as they became the first Pea Ridge girls team to ever claim a state team title.

Lady 'Hawk coach Heather Wade said: "I am excited about the way the team performed this early in the season.

"We had several personal bests and overall I am very proud of them! Going from 19th to first this year at state with a very strong under class coming through the program will be great for the future," Wade said. "We have been in the weight room and it showed in the meet as we improved from 8 points to 86 points!"

The Lady 'Hawks outpointed the pre-meet favorite Crossett Eagles 41-34 in the field events to start the meet. Crossett, the winners of a number of state championships, has always dominated field event competitions and usually has the lead headed into the track event finals. Upstart Pea Ridge ended that domination early, then outscoring the Eagles 28-3 in the first two running finals to build up a huge 69-37 advantage that Crossett could not over come.

The Lady 'Hawks ended the competition with an astounding 86 points to outscore Crossett's final total of 67. Third-place Pocahontas was far behind in third place with 39 points, less than the field event total for Pea Ridge.

Three Lady 'Hawks won individual championships in the field events to get the title wave going. Sophomore Cassidy Mooneyhan vaulted 11'0" to easily claim the gold with second far back with a 9'6" mark. Mooneyhan was the second place finisher indoors in 2017 and was the 2017 outdoor state champion. She was also the only Pea Ridge athlete in score in last year's indoor state meet.

Freshman Blaklee Winn soared 16-6 to claim the long jump gold with Jamison Toms landing in sixth in the event with a 14'10" leap, giving the 'Hawks 13 points in the venue. Junior Shelby Dunlap took first in the triple jump with a 34'4" mark for the third field gold. Kynley Burton just missed out on a high jump gold, settling for a silver medal and second in the event with a 5'4" effort.

Crossett picked up 10 points in the shot put to cut a 17-point deficit to just 7 but the first two events on the track showed the perennial contenders that this year was going to be different. Pea Ridge swept to a victory in the 4x800 relay, winning by more than 20 seconds, restoring the 'Hawks' 17-point advantage. Harmony Reynolds, Maddyson Robinson, Destiny Roughton and Adelina Means ran the relay in 10:49, a half lap ahead of the runner-up Greenland team in 11:11.

Winn and Dunlap then slammed the door to an Eagle comeback when they went first and second in the 60-meter hurdles with fast times of 10.06 and 10.13 respectively. Crossett could only manage a sixth place in the event, good for 3 points. The 'Hawks had 69 points at that juncture of the meet, more than Crossett would score the rest of the way.

Winn would go on to claim a bronze medal in the 60 dash, taking fourth in 8.26, good for 4 points. Adelina Means would add another medal in the 400, taking seventh in the event with a 1:04.2 clocking.

By the time the meet wound down to the last event, the 4x400 relay, the Lady 'Hawks had already wrapped up the team title However, the Lady 'Hawks had one more goal to accomplish, and that was to win both relay events, having already secured the 4x800 title. Win it they did, breaking the overall state record in the process. They were nearly a half lap ahead of Crossett who finished second in the event. The team of Winn, Dunlap, Olivia McCracken and Means zipped around the 200-meter track in 4:21.93, shaving 2 seconds over the old state 4A mark.

Pea Ridge, which has not won a gold medal at the indoor state meet since Diane Miller's double gold victory for the 'Hawks in the 1,600/3,200 events in 2001, took home 12 gold medals, two silvers and three bronze medals.

Winn was the high point leader for the 'Hawks with 27 1/2 points, with Dunlap having a big day with 20 1/2 points.

The girls' final point totals in the 35 team event: Pea Ridge 86, Crossett 67, Pocahontas 39, Central Arkansas 32, Hamburg 30, Rivercrest 25, Decatur 24, Greenland 23, Green Forest 22, Ozark 21, Shiloh 21, Genoa 18, Maumelle 16, Waldron 14, Gentry 13, West Fork 11, Magazine 11, Prairie Grove 10, Dardanelle 10, Des Arc 9, Jessieville 9, Melbourne 8, Gravette 6, Booneville 5, Conway Christian 4, Heber Springs 4, Mansfield 3, Ashdown 2, and Huntsville 1. Six teams did not score.

Blackhawk boys take 3rd

Half point from 2nd

Though the Heber Springs is no stranger to state championships indoors, they could only muster 56 points in 2018, less than a dozen ahead of second-place Ashdown with 45.5 and Pea Ridge with 45.0.

Summing what he thought about the first big meet, head coach Asa Poteete has been a part of with the Blackhawks: "I was very proud of the performance by the track boys Friday night. These boys have been working really hard since coming back from Christmas break and were ready to get track season started.

"They came in with great focus and competed at a high level. We ended up third overall as a team and just half a point from the runner up spot which is a great accomplishment. There are some areas for improvement and holes to fill in certain events but overall I am very encouraged by how well we performed and look forward to seeing what these kids can accomplish this season," Poteete said.

The Blackhawks came out of the field events with but 3 points, but put on a strong showing on the track to very nearly take the runner-up trophy, falling a mere half point short.

Zach Woods got the scoring going early with a sixth place (11-0) in the pole vault. The event netted 3 points as Ashdown took the early overall meet lead with 21 points.

Justin Koon picked up 6 big points in the 60 hurdles to start the 'Hawks' climb. He was in a dead heat with Tre Green of Ashdown for second place with identical times of 9.22, with the video cam determining Green the second place winner by millimeters over Koon's third place finish. The wining time was 8.92.

The 'Hawks added 4 more points to their total with Cooper Elliott claiming sixth in the 60 (7.28) and Connor Escajeda taking eighth in 7.31. The winner of the very tight race was Laquan Dunaway of Heber Springs who ran it in 7.18

The big move Pea Ridge made to the top was Escajeda's victory in the 400-meter dash. His time of 51.45 took the gold medal and with it, 10 points. The points put the 'Hawks into the Top 10 teams after setting around 20th place. Cooper then turned in a sizzling time of 23.24 in the 200 to take the silver and with Jordan Witcher close behind, taking fifth in 23.48, the duo added 12 more points to put the 'Hawks into the Top Four with 35 points.

The Blackhawks then captured first place in the final event, the 4x400 relay, in 3:39.3 to cruise past Nashville (who finished eighth in the relay) into third place. Ashdown entered the race 2.5 points ahead of the Pea Ridge, needing only to finish right behind the 'Hawks to hang onto the second place team trophy. Crossett made a run at Ashdown, but couldn't quite do the job as Ashdown took second. Pea Ridge won the event by more than 50 yards.

The 'Hawks had their best finish indoors ever, bringing home five gold medals, a silver and three bronze medals. The 4x400 relay gold medalists were Escajeda, Elliott, Shaed Cates and Jordan Witcher.

The boys team totals were: Heber Springs 56, Ashdown 45.5, Pea Ridge 45, Nashville 40.5, Crossett 32, Genoa 31, Booneville 31, Pocahontas 25, Cave City 24, Jessieville 20, Waldron 20, Gentry 9,Caddo Hills 18, Trinity Christian 12, Piggott 11, Decatur 11, Mt. Ida 11, Salem 1, Shiloh 10, Green Forest 9, Mineral Springs 8, Gravette 8, Rivercrest 7, Conway Christian 6, Huntsville 6, Mansfield 5, Manila 5, Palestine 4, Southside 4, Robinson 3, Prairie Grove 3, West Fork 3, Magazine 2, and Ozark 1.

Escajeda and Cooper were the high point leaders for the 'Hawks with 13.5 points each.

Sports on 02/28/2018

Print Headline: Lady 'Hawks take state track championship

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