The cross country senior boys 5K Race on the Ridge hung on a narrow edge as Highland beat Batesville for the team title 38 to 39.

The Pioneers had five runners in the Top 20 to Highland’s four in Tuesday’s contest at Crowley’s Ridge College. When the places were reset with athletes from teams without five scorers removed, the gap to Highland’s fifth runner closed. Highland’s strength in front (first, fourth, and fifth in team scoring)) gave them the victory with 17 schools entered.

Highland’s Preston Wright won the race, fittingly by a narrow edge, at 18:27 to nip Freddie Thorne of West Memphis at 18:28. Pioneer senior Trey Moody moved through the pack early into a two-man battle for third place with freshman Cole Kelly of Jonesboro, surging away in the final half mile to finish in 19:31.

Pioneer freshmen Ryan Barber, eighth in 20:49, and Ethan Insell, ninth in 21:01, looked right at home in their senior high debuts in a test run on the course for the district championship in two weeks.

Senior Noah Chaffin also earned a top 15 medal close behind Insell, 14th in 21:26. Junior Tanner Queary filled out the scoring five in 20th overall at 22:28.

Running together early paid off in two-minute improvements from the previous 5K for junior Daniel Latus (23:17), senior Shayne Coffey (24:45, his first time under 25:00), junior Andrew Wixson (25:17), and sophomore Alexander Tenace (25:23). Senior Jacob Dorris finished in 31:00 and sophomore Trevor Finnie in 31:36.

The senior Lady Pioneers captured second place as well, for the third time on the season. Senior Maggie Walton led the Lady Pioneers, pushing to the front over the second lap of the 1.55-mile circuit for ninth place at 26:15. Sophomore Clara Nikkel closed in over the hills and valleys of the campus to medal in 11th place at 27:00. Senior Kate Moody kept pace to medal in 13th at 27:27, with sophomore Kinley Dorris hanging close most of the race finishing 21st in 29:15. Junior Kate Gunter made up ground late with a strong finish in 22nd at 29:16. Sophomore Destiny Montalbo was 27th of the 51 finishers, in a time of 31:21. Highland also claimed the girls title, 39-46 over the Pioneers.

Greene County Tech played host, and 25 schools had entries among the four races.

The Pioneer junior high girls ran first, with Victoria Nelms just missing a medal in 12:37 for 18th place of 78 finishers. The ladies ran well together behind her with Rachel Mills finishing just a bit stronger in 40th at 14:31, ahead of Yuridia Barrios (43rd, 14:55), Victoria Turner (44th, 14:59) and Sianna Balderas (45th, 15:02). Chloe Cordell ran 15:42 for 52nd of 77 finishers. Taylor Bishop, recovered from her run-in with a stinging swarm at Cave City, dropped two minutes off her previous best to finish in 17:23. All but Balderas, a freshman, are eighth graders. The team finished fifth among 19 schools entered.

The junior boys took a “next man up” approach, missing their usual leaders Barber and Insell. Their classmates Isaac Wehrung (26th, 10:50) and twin Jackson Insell (28th, 10:55) fared well in the field of 97, with a chance to move up to senior high for the district championships as well.

Freshman Jacob Hernandez ran 12:46, classmate Colby Puckett 13:15, and seventh grader Reece Wixson 13:32. The team finished seventh with 18 schools entered.

Full results are available at ar.milesplit.com. The Pioneers run next Tuesday at the the Valley View Blazer Invitational at Joe Mack Campbell Park in Jonesboro.

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