2006 Arkansas High School Cross Country Preview


Caveat:  This data is compiled solely from prior year state meet results, current year track results, tidbits that have been sent to us and our own conjecture.  It is not possible for us to know about all transfers in and out, injuries, new runners, runners who are not competing in the current year or any of a myriad of other factors that make it fun to watch the season unfold.  There will be always be surprises.  There will be runners who run noticeably better at state than ever before while others that are expected to do well struggle.  The winning teams will usually be the willing ..that is, the teams with the will to win and willing to put in the effort to prepare.  Enjoy the season.


General Comments: The 2006 season offers numerous wildcards as the classifications have been reconfigured and created two new classifications.  The old Class 5A is broken into a new Class 6A and a Class 7A.  The largest 16 schools move into Class 7A and the second largest 16 schools make up Class 6A.  The old Class 4A becomes the new Class 5A while the largest 48 of the old Class 3A becomes Class 4A.  In addition, new rules for private schools result in moving several schools moving into new classifications. 


Both Boys and Girls run 5K.


Weekly Coaches Poll: will host the annual Arkansas Track Coaches Association Weekly CC Coaches Poll for each classification with a state meet.  We accept votes for each classification's Top 5 each week  by 7pm each Tuesday starting with September 5, compile the votes and post to our website by 7pm on Thursday of that week. Coaches voting and members of the media who request are to receive an email of the vote on Tuesday evening. 


Coaches not already registered who wish to vote are asked to contact us at and ask to be provided a ballot. Each school with a CC team may cast one vote in each classification for each Boys and Girls. For example, if a school has a Boys team, the Boys coach may cast a ballot in each class for each Boys and Girls.  If the school also has a Girls team with a separate coach, that coach may also cast a ballot in each class for each Boys and Girls.


State Meet Date/Location: The State CC Meets are scheduled for Saturday, November 11, 2006 at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs National Park to be hosted by Lake Hamilton High School.  Order of races and start times to be established later. See the Arkansas Activities Association website at for updated information.


Class 1A/2A:  These two classifications compete as one class for cross country. 


Boys: No team has five returnees from last year Top 30 but defending champ Jasper has three of last year's Top 5 back and has a strong tradition in recent years. 


Early favorite:  Jasper

Teams to Watch:  Acorn, Izard County, Murfreesboro


Individuals:  2005 runner-up Johnny  Purvis of Jasper finished last year at 17:21 well ahead of the remainder of the pack.


Girls:  This meet is wide open with Des Arc and Decatur each having three of the Top 15 back. Whoever can find a solid 4th and 5th has the inside.


Early favorite: None

Teams to Watch:  Des Arc and Decatur


Individuals:  Defending champ Emily Carpenter of Carlisle won in 19:51 and is the heavy favorite to repeat. However, 2005 3rd place Alex Patterson of Des Arc ran 21:20 last year but outdueled Carpenter in the 2006 Class 2A State Track Meet over 3200m by 12:49-12:55.


Class 3A:  Genoa Central moves up to the new 3A and should have an immediate impact. After winning the Class 1/2A Girls in 2005 and taking 5th in the Boys, the Dragons may have the depth to compete for both titles.


Boys:  Using last year's time for Genoa Central they would have eight of the Top 20 Boys in new Class 3A. Lamar has three of the Top 5 returning and needs to find a 4th and 5th to hold off Genoa Central.  Mountainburg brings back four in the projected Top 20 and could pull a surprise with a strong 5th runner.


Early favorite:  Genoa Central

Teams to Watch:  Lamar and Mountainburg

Individuals:  Chris Ariola, Shiloh Christian was 2nd last year in 17:09 and is the top returner by 50 seconds


Girls:  Genoa Central could post a perfect score based on the returning times from last year.  In addition, they have depth with two others who could be Top 10. 


Early favorite:  Genoa Central

Teams to Watch:  Lamar


Individuals:  Lacie McMurry of Genoa Central was 6th in Class 1/2A last year at 22:32 and has the best returning time in new Class 3A.


Class 4A:  The new class pits three strong CC programs in Berryville, DeQueen and Heber Springs.  This should be a very competitive classfication.


Boys:  Heber Springs has top returners from a runner-up team in 2005 and looks to have the depth to win. Berryville has strong upfront runners but needs to have their 4th and 5th step up to give Heber a fight.


Early Favorite:  Heber Springs

Team to Watch:  Berryville, DeQueen


Individuals:  Dusty Hardin of Warren was 3rd last year at 17:17 and Aaron Edwards of Berryville was 4th at 17:23.


Girls:  As in the Boys, Heber Springs and Berryville have depth returning in a team race that could literally come down to the wire.  DeQueen has four strong returnees and needs only to find a solid 5th to make a run for the team title.


Early Favorite:  Heber Springs and Berryville

Teams to Watch:  DeQueen and Mena


Individuals:  Hannah McClardy of Arkansas Baptist was 2nd last year in Class 1/2A at 20:03; Kelsey Hatcher of Central Arkansas Christian took 2nd last year in Class 3A at 20:18


Class 5A:  This is mostly the old Class 4A that has been dominated by 2-3 schools over the years. However, central Arkansas schools Beebe, Batesville and Pulaski Academy have joined the crowd at the top.  This could be the most competitive classification this fall.


Boys:  At least six teams have a legitimate shot at the title.  Siloam Springs and Hot Springs Lakeside have the most obvious depth from last year with 4-5 solid finishers.  Greene County Tech, Beebe, Harrison and Pulaski Academy have a strong core from 2005 returning but will need some 4th and 5th runners to emerge and step up.  Alma could also challenge if their track success (2nd in 8:24) in the 4x800m relay pays off in CC.


Early Favorites:  Siloam Springs and Hot Springs Lakeside

Teams to Watch: Alma, Beebe, Greene County Tech, Harrison, Pulaski Academy


Individuals: Luke Allen of Harrison is the top returner with a 17:39 time; however, Matt Mason of Alma was 2nd in 3200m at State Track Meet in 10:07 and could challenge; watch for Seth Freeman of Greene County Tech who has only the 7th best time of returnees but was 3rd in 3200m in track at 10:13


Girls:  Siloam Springs has 8 of 9 from last year's state meet team back plus some talented new freshmen to push the upperclassmen.  Batesville is loaded again this year with solid depth returning plus 8 in the projected Top 20.  Pulaski Academy also brings back a solid five from last year and could make some trouble.  Beebe and Greene County Tech each have a solid core of 3-4 but will need some help in order to could make it an interesting team race.


Early Favorite: Batesville, Pulaski Academy and Siloam Springs

Teams to Watch: Beebe, Greene County Tech and Monticello


Individuals:  Tia Young of Harrison is the top returnee with a 20:22 last year; Allanna Smith of Batesville and Chelsea Weaver of Monticello are close behind at 20:42


Class 6A:  This is the smaller 16 schools from the old Class 5A.  As these schools have traditionally not been strong CC programs over all other than for Lake Hamilton, this new alignment gives new opportunity to take a trophy home from state.  Lake Hamilton was a state power when in the old Class 4A before moving to Class 5A.  The Wolves should find Class 6A friendly territory.


Boys:  Lake Hamilton returns six from last year who are all projected in the Top 20 for 2006, including four in the Top 11.  Mountain Home figures to be in the hunt but will need to step up and run with the Wolves as their 4th and 5th runners are projected after Lake Hamilton's Top 5 have crossed the line. Forrest City has a strong first spot and a tough 4 x 800m relay team from track; the Mustangs need to move up the 3rd -5th spots to take on Mountain Home.


Early Favorite: Lake Hamilton

Teams to Watch: Mountain Home and Forrest City


Individuals: Alex Bearden of Lake Hamilton won the 3200m in track at 9:47 which sets him up as the CC favorite; Ryder Pierce of Mountain Home is the 3rd best overall returner and was 2nd at state track meet in 3200m at 9:51


Girls:  Mountain Home looks to have the top returners with six in the projected Top 11 while Watson Chapel has four of the projected Top 18 but need a 5th to compete for the title.  Although Lake Hamilton brings back only three in the projected Top 25 never count the Lady Wolves out as the Junior Wolves were solid last year and will likely add to the senior team in a decisive way.


Early Favorite: Mountain Home

Teams to Watch: Lake Hamilton and Watson Chapel


Individuals: Lori Banu of Lake Hamilton is the top returner at 22:25 plus was 5th at state track 3200m well ahead of any new Class 6A runners


Class 7A:  It looks like the only way to keep Rogers and Bentonville from hogging the Class 5A CC trophies is to take them out of Class 5A and that is exactly what was done. The 16 largest schools in the state make up the new Class 7A.  The team competition at Class 7A should be extremely tough as 22 of the 24 trophies in Class 5A from 2000 forward were earned by schools now in Class 7A.


Boys:  Rogers once again looks to be loaded with five of the projected Top 25.  The Mounties have the Top 4 returners from 2005 but will need to have some 4th-7th runners pick it up to avoid a surprise.  Fayetteville also has five back in the projected Top 25 and will be seeking to reverse last year's disappointment when they were heavily favored.  Springdale and Bryant each have a solid core back and need to fill in those 4th-6th places to compete for the team title.


Early Favorites:  Rogers and Fayetteville

Teams to Watch:  Bryant and Springdale


Individuals:  Aaron Hamilton of Rogers is the top returner at 16:39; watch for Ethan Blakely of Bryant and Willy Pickhart of Fayetteville each who had strong track seasons


Girls:  This should be a barn-burner once again as Bentonville, Fayetteville and Rogers each have strong teams returning.  Fayetteville has seven of the projected Top 25 but Bentonville has three of the Top 5 and a terrific track season for the distance runners.  Rogers has to find a solid 5th but the Lady Mounties have solid junior high runners moving up and depth should not be a major issue come state meet. 


Early Favorites:  Fayetteville, Bentonville and Rogers

Teams to Watch: Bryant, Russellville and Springdale Har-Ber


Individuals:  Katie Dalton of Bentonville is the top returner at 19:53 but teammate Alyssa Potter was 2nd at state track 3200m at 11:44; Kim Peek of Springdale Har-Ber ran strong in track this spring with a 5:17 for 1600m; Courtney Efurd of Rogers is the 2nd best returner at 20:41 but had a strong 9th grade spring at 2:24 for 800m and 5:30 for 1600m



RECAP of Early Favorites:


1/2A Boys: Jasper

1/2 A Girls: Des Arc and Decatur

3A Boys: Genoa Central

3A Girls: Genoa Central

4A Boys:  Heber Springs

4A Girls:  Berryville and Heber Springs

5A Boys:  Siloam Springs and Hot Springs Lakeside

5A Girls:  Batesville, Pulaski Academy and Siloam Springs

6A Boys:  Lake Hamilton

6A Girls:  Mountain Home

7A Boys:  Rogers and Fayetteville

7A Girls:  Fayetteville, Bentonville and Rogers


Early Top 10 Boys:


  1. Josh Brewer, Lake Hamilton. 6A South
  2. Aaron Hamilton, Rogers, 7A West
  3. Ethan Blakely, Bryant, 7A Central
  4. Willy Pickhart, Fayetteville, 7A West
  5. Chris Ariola, Shiloh Christian, 3A-District 1
  6. Eric Molina, Rogers, 7A West
  7. Dusty Hardin, Warren, 4A -District 8
  8. Matt Mason, Alma, 5A West
  9. Luke Allen, Harrison, 5A West
  10. Johnny Purvis, Jasper, 1A-District 1 West


Early Top 10 Girls:


  1. Emily Carpenter, Carlisle, 2A-District 6
  2. Alex Patterson, Des Arc, 2A-District 6
  3. Katie Dalton, Bentonville, 7A West
  4. Allyssa Potter, Bentonville, 7A West
  5. Hannah McClardy, Arkansas Baptist, 4A-District 7
  6. Kelsey Hatcher, Central Arkansas Christian, 4A-District 7
  7. Courtney Efurd, Rogers, 7A West
  8. Kim Peek, Springdale Har-Ber, 7A West
  9. Tia Young, Harrison, 5A West
  10. Allanna Smith, Batesville, 5A East


Key Meets:


9/9/06 Bob Gravette OBU Invitational, Arkadelphia, AR

9/23/06 UALR Invite, Little Rock

9/23/06 Panther Invitational, Siloam Springs

10/7/06 Lake Hamilton Invite, Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, AR

10/14/06 Chile Pepper Festival, Agri Park, Fayetteville, AR

10/24/06 Mountie Classic, Rogers, AR

11/11/06 State CC Meets, Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs

11/18/06 Arkansas/Oklahoma All-Stars, TBA



© 8/22/06