We are going into the final semester of athletic participation for a group of senior boys who have compiled an enviable and perhaps even unbeatable record of winning as far as team ball sports are concerned.
The football seniors ran up a sparkling record of 36-7 in their three seasons on the gridiron with the basketball senior athletes finishing with a sterling 81-16 standard over the same length of time.
The 'Hawk baseball seniors are currently 3-0 this season, making their three-year record 42-10, also a testament to continued success.
All told, the three sports combined have a sensational won/loss record of 159-33 over the past three years. That is a LOT of winning.
While Pea Ridge athletics has had their high and low points over the years, the recent success and exceptional achievement is mostly due to a change in culture. I heard a coach once say that you can't have a change in altitude until you've had one in attitude. That's true in sports and is especially true about life in general.
I was extremely fortunate to have been coached by someone in high school who was a coaching legend who turned out a large number of all-state athletes. My collegiate coach at Harding University made it into the National Track Coaches Hall of Fame, and I have crossed paths with or met lots of coaches from across the country who were wildly successful in their careers. All the aforementioned shared a lot of the same characteristics. They were committed to teaching, molding character and providing role models for their athletes to emulate.
Students of good character, who understand the importance of hard work, and especially ones who understand the value of never giving up, those are the kind of kids who will succeed in most of the things they endeavor to do, whether it is on the playing field, in the work experience, or interacting with a family. Any educational experience that can accomplish that, has captured the essence of education.
Most folks know I am a volunteer sportswriter (therefore unpaid) and I have sometimes been asked why I would do that. The fact is, were it not for the kind of athletes we have in Pea Ridge, I likely wouldn't.
There is nothing I dislike more in sports that arrogance, unsportsmanlike conduct and me-first attitudes, whether it is the coaches or the athletes. We have some of the finest individuals I have ever met heading up our sports programs, and the kids they are turning out are looked up to by the younger set here in Pea Ridge and they get lauded on a regular basis by the players and fans from other teams.
I will never forget what the coach of Baptist Prep said after his team defeated the 'Hawks in last year's state basketball championship game.
He remarked that "Pea Ridge deserved to win." Not many winning coaches will make those kind of statements about their opposition.
Now I said at the beginning of the this column that the record the Class of 2018 has compiled may be unbeatable. While that may, or may not be true, they did set the bar exceedingly high for the 'Hawks who will follow them. What can't the Pea Ridge Blackhawks do? The answer is nothing -- anything is possible.
Track athletes run with the big dogs
I learned something as an athlete that I have never forgotten. That is "you are as good as who you run with."
Several boys and girls track athletes competed last Friday in an unusual track competition in Fayetteville, a track meet without the field events. 20 teams, mostly 7A or 6A squads came for the competition while allowed schools to enter many more runners in each event than would ordinarily be allowed.
Well over 100 athletes competed in some events, with the involved coaches getting a chance to see how each of his athletes would respond in head to head competition, rather than practice time trials.
It is highly important for track athletes to run with as good competition as can be found. Winning easily against lesser competition will not prepare the athletes for the tough competition that always takes place on the state level. No matter how good someone can get athletically, they need to remember that there is someone out there who can beat them. Keep pressing on to improve and improve until you will be the one to make the waves and set the standards.
Freshman Blaklee Winn made some waves, racking up 19 points in four running events in the Fayetteville meet. Her third place time of 49.11 in the 300 hurdles surpassed the 4A state meet automatic qualifier mark of 49.97. She also placed third in the 100 hurdles (16.69), fourth in the 200 (27.37), and and sixth in the 100 (12.95). She was about a half-second from qualifying for state in her other three events.
The Lady 'Hawks' 4x100 relay team placed seventh with a clocking of 57.51. Relay members of the team included Leire Leon, Tori Scrogham, Emma Stein and Cassidy Mooneyhan.
The Lady 'Hawks' fantastic finish in the state indoor 4x400 meet a week ago is a second under the state qualifying standard, but I am uncertain if indoor meets count towards qualifying. If that meet counts, Kynley Burton would already be qualified for the state high jump along with Mooneyhan in the pole vault. Shelby Dunham's 34'4" mark in the triple jump indoors is just an inch from the automatic qualifying mark.
The boys did well in Fayetteville, outpointing seven 7A-6A teams to finish sixth, behind five 7A schools.
Connor Escajeda was second in the 400 dash, with a 52.22 effort. He was also seventh in the 100 with a 11.56 time, just behind teammate Cooper Elliot's sixth place in the 100 in 11.49. Jordan Witcher was the other individual scorer in the event, grabbing fifth in the 200 with a time of 23.73.
The winner of the truncated meet was 7A state champion Bentonville with 109, followed by Fayetteville with 68, Springdale Har-Ber 49, Bentonville West 38, Rogers Heritage 37, Pea Ridge 23, Springdale 21, Maumelle 21, Rogers 15, Decatur 9, Greenland 7, Alma 6, Green Forest 6, Ft Smith Northside 6, Gentry 5, Van Buren 4, Little Rock Parkview 3 and Russellville 1. Some teams did not score.
The three aforementioned boys teamed up with Shaed Cates to take an astonishing third in the 4x100 relay. Their time of 44.62 was one of the best times recorded in school history and is close to the state qualifying standard.
The Arkansas Activities Association State qualifying standards are as follows:
For a qualifying mark to count, certain meet conditions have to be met and paper work has to be submitted to state officials. Other than automatic qualification, athletes can advance to state by finishing in the top two in the district track and field competition.
Missouri has a regional round where teams/individuals advance from district to regional to state. The top four in each preliminary meet advances athletes on to the next level. That would be a good thing if Arkansas could adopt that.
Baseball team races out to 3-0 record
The Pea Ridge Blackhawk baseball team got off to a fast start by winning their three games in the Carroll County Invitational last week. The 'Hawks whipped district foe Berryville 5-1 last Friday before clobbering Lead Hill 15-0 early Saturday. They finished out the hard ball weekend by crushing Green Forest 16-7. The Diamond 'Hawks outscored their opposition 36-8, displaying some offensive talent in their year's debut.
Editor's note: John McGee is an award-winning columnist and sports writer. He is the art teacher at Pea Ridge elementary schools, coaches elementary track and writes a regular sports column for The Times. The opinions expressed are those of the author. He can be contacted through The Times at firstname.lastname@example.org.Sports on 03/07/2018
Print Headline: Sr. Blackhawk boys -- a legacy of winning