BY RICK WRIGHT –
The year 2016 looks to be a good one for the Acorn Tigers Cross-Country program.
Both junior boys and and girls have a lot of runners and look again to be contenders for top honors at Invitational Meets.
“Basketball Coaches Mike Jackson for girls and Chris Ledbetter for the boys have really helped get the runners out and without their support, we would not have this level of success,” said Acorn Head Cross-Country coach Keith Willsey. “Coach Kylynn Ledbetter is the assistant coach in cross-country and is a tremendous help in the training and running of the cross-country meets.”
The senior girls for the last eight years have finished four times as Champions and four times as Runner-Up.
“They are led by multiple All-State Cross-Country runners senior Morgan Fagan and junior Faith Hill,” said Willsey. “Sophomore Kendra Branson was one spot out of All-State, but comes in as an All-State Track runner. Morgan and Faith also have multiple All-State in track.”
Acorn is looking to be back on top of the podium this fall at the State Championships to be held at Oaklawn Park November 12th.
“The team is looking to senior’s Brittany Wilhite, All-State Track, and Harly Dearing to have good seasons with Brianna Jones, Josey Webb, Mackenzie Goss, and potentially some freshmen to round out a championship team,” said Willsey.
The Acorn senior boys are looking to break out of the podium slump they’ve been in for the last few years. Injuries have been a problem. But this year’s team led by senior’s Nathan Chaney and Logan Frost are looking to the younger runners to help them make it back to the top.
“Kenny Denley had a good freshman year and is looking to make his way to an All-State performance,” said Willsey. “With new comer Joshua Swint and a host of up and coming freshmen boys, the Tigers might have another banner year.”
Coach Keith Willsey graduated from Porterville Jr. College in 1976 and finished up at Arkansas Tech in 1978. “I coached at Harford, Arkansas from 1978 until 1991 and have been here at Acorn High School since 1991.”
“For years I saw the Lion’s Club Golf Course as a good place for a Fall Cross-Country meet, “said Willsey. “Last year Coach Randy Peters took over the Mena Cross-Country team and has really worked and pushed to build a program. He expressed an interest to host a cross-country meet. All the races have been on the Acorn Cross-Country course on Acorn’s Campus. I suggested that Coach Peters and I Co-host a cross-country meet on the Lion’s Club field, that is now a Frisbee Golf Course. We are looking at October 4th as a meet date. We are still in the planning stages, and if it does not work out this season, for sure next year.”
“It has been a unique experience with the Acorn Cross-Country program,” said Willsey. “I have received a lot of help and encouragement from people in Mena and Polk County for the program. I look forward to helping Coach Peters build the Mena Cross-Country program and to show appreciation for all the support I have received.”
Senior boys cross-country team members include: Dylyn Hayner, Mason Stout, Kenny Denley, Logan Frost, Nathan Chaney, Joshua Swint and Tyler Bates.
Senior girls cross-country team members include: Josey Webb, Makenzie Goss, Breanna Jones, Faith Hill, Kendra Brenson, Harly Dearing, Morgan Fagan and Brittany Wilhite.
The Junior boys cross-country team members include: Eric Moody, Caleb Bowers, Chad Sutton, Nathan Cottman, Jordan Ward, Tyler Lyle, Curtis Short, Justice Neufeld, Jacob Moore, T.J. Bissell, Ryan Zuniga, Donevin Tedder, Ayden Ward, Jacob Lyle, Brady Hair, Matthew Chaney, Brady Lyle, Kacey Head, Trysten Richey and Jacob Cottman.
The Junior girls cross-country team members include: Harly Rodgers, Raegan Weddle, Abi Marks, Halie Blare, Sarah Wallace, Corryn Holland, Gracie Hill, Alexius Powell, Autumn Strother, Abigail Nance, Haley Blair, Aroana Andrews, Makenna Goss, Alyssa Warren, Halli Holland and Ashlynn Bissell.