Bentonville and Bryant swept the high school and junior high races, respectively, at the Lake Hamilton Invitational Saturday on the infield at Oaklawn Park.
Bentonville’s girls picked up 27 points for the win, but it was Fayetteville sophomore Carson Wasemiller that led the pack from wire to wire, crossing the finish line in 18:36.34. Bentonville’s Emily Robinson finished 27.36 seconds back for second place.
Wasemiller, who set a personal record at Saturday’s meet, said that while she had health issues early in the season, she has worked hard to get beyond that.
“I had some trouble early in the season with some iron deficiency, but I’ve just really been working on getting my body healthier,” she said. “And my mom just tells me that ‘I just want you to be able to go out and feel good.’ So I really appreciate her just valuing like my personal health over my personal achievements because like in running I feel like, especially with girls, lots of emphasis is placed on like how our bodies look, but in a race like this it’s so, so easy to see that that doesn’t even factor in racing.”
While many distance runners use a kick late in the race, Wasemiller pushes herself throughout the race.
“I’m usually not one to really kick,” she said. “I’m not super fast at moving my legs for a short time, but I really feel like mentally I was in it, so I could just stride out a little bit, little by little, opening up that gap, giving myself a little cushion but also really trying to push myself at the end, the last 100 (meters).”
Senior twin brothers Dawson and Dylan Mayberry from Bentonville took the top two spots in the senior boys race with Dawson edging out his brother by 1.67 seconds.
“It’s awesome to know that he’s going to be right there next to me,” Dawson said. “So its a big incentive to like push for because, you know, you want to have bragging rights.”
Dawson was in a pack of Northwest Arkansas runners who led from wire to wire, which he said was pretty draining.
“I feel like I did pretty good given the circumstances,” he said. “I pretty much lead the whole thing, and sometimes doing that like really drains your energy. … It hurt. It hurt a lot to be completely honest, but I still feel like we did pretty well.”
Bentonville cross country coach Mike Power was pleased with both the boys and girls teams’ performance.
“The course is in great condition, and it was a beautiful day, except for the wind kind of slowed them down,” he said. “It’s an open course, and when you’re out there on the course multiple laps, it does slow you down a little bit, and I think that kind of took away a few seconds here and there. But yeah, it was a great performance, and a lot of the guys — I think six of the nine guys — had never run this course before, so it was a learning experience for them.”
Power said to see the Mayberry twins finish in the top two spots was not surprising.
“I think they’ve been probably doing that their whole life,” he said. “They’ve always been battling in whatever they do, and that’s just the twin brother environment. They’re very competitive. I don’t know if Dawson told you, but he needed his brother there today. And when he saw his brother make a move, it spurred him on to make a move. And so that’s not only teammates helping each other, but brothers helping each other. They have that connection, and it was great to go one, two.”
Lakeside’s girls finished fifth overall, led by sophomore Whitley Terry. Terry finished 0.47 seconds behind Lake Hamilton sophomore Olivia Pielemeier for seventh.
“Olivia had a great race,” Lake Hamilton cross country coach Brandon Smith said. “I think she was kind of dealing with a little bit of cramp in the second half the race, she told me when she came by. … I know (she) and Whitley from Lakeside are good competitors with one another, and of course they both want to beat each other. And they down to, I think, literally almost a photo finish there at the end, and she held her off. So I was happy for Olivia to get that personal win over, you know, a cross-county rival.”
The Rams finished sixth overall, led by junior Dylan Dew in 12th place.
“These kids have been working extremely hard this year, and, you know, we’ve been very strategical about our race schedule in our and our workouts, and this was going to be a (culmination) of our year,” said Lakeside cross country coach Jeff Haynes. “We raced Tuesday, so you know we’re actually coming in on dead legs, and if we can come in and do what we did today on dead legs, I’m really excited to see what we can do on fresh legs. So I think good stuff is still yet to come.”
Haynes was especially pleased with the performance of Dew and freshman Joseph Bariola (17th).
“They’ve only had five cross country meets at a varsity level,” he said. “So they’re still trying to figure out the racing part of it. They kill workouts, but it’s just a matter of finding that right balance of racing. Ant this was definitely the best race I’ve seen them run so far, so I think they may have figured some stuff out today, and hopefully that’s going to pay on Nov. 6.”
Lake Hamilton’s boys finished third, led by junior Evan Armitage in 11th place. The Lady Wolves finished eighth, led by Pielemeier.
“I feel happy with how we placed,” Smith said. “I was expecting some faster times out of our guys today than what we showed. Workouts have really shown that they are capable of going faster, so we’ll talk a little bit and find out what kind of went along with them race-wise today and try to make some adjustments for that.”
Overall, Smith was pleased with how well the meet came together, despite fewer teams and no fans.
“It’s hard to pull off a meet right now with all the COVID stuff going on, and I feel like everything just went real smooth regarding how the fans and general public cooperated with what we’re doing,” he said. “You know, we would like to pet some more teams like we’ve had in the past, but we had a solid lineup. … We had a big pack of four or five guys in the last half mile that any of those guys had a chance to win, and we’ve never had that in our senior boys race here.”
In the junior girls race, Lakeside finished second with Lake Hamilton finishing third. Lakeside’s Maya Hubbard, Annabel Sarver and Hope Webb took the top three spots in the race.
In the junior boys race, Lake Hamilton finished second by one point with Lakeside third. Miguel Salazar led the junior Wolves in fifth place.
A group of five runners battle it out for the lead in the second half of the Lake Hamilton Invitational Saturday in the infield at Oaklawn Park. The group consisted of Fayetteville’s Jack Williams, left, Manila’s Connor Jackson, hidden, Bentonville’s Dawson Mayberry, center, Conway’s John Sutton and Bentonville’s Dylan Mayberry. – Photo by James Leigh of The Sentinel-Record