BY LOGAN MCCOURTNEY –
Acorn Cross Country has been one of the dominate programs in Southwest Arkansas for a number of years under the direction of Keith Willsey. Since 1996, the Tigers have been a factor at State, making numerous visits and winning several championships along the way. This year is no different at Acorn, the Tigers look to keep the tradition going and add more championships.
The Acorn senior girls have been dominating the cross country landscape over the last eight years, winning four State Championships and earning Runner-Up the other four trips. This year the girls return two of their top runners, including Faith Hill, a three time All-State runner. Other girls that will contribute to the success of the team are Jr. Kendra Branson, Soph. Sophie Jackson, Soph. Allie Strothers, Sr. Josey Webb, and Sr. Mackenzie Goss. The Lady Tigers will look for help from Ashlynn Bissell, one of the top 8th grade runners in the area last season.
After a year in which the girls won many of their Invitational meets in both senior and junior high, the Lady Tigers look to build on that success this season. Currently, they are ranked 2nd in 1A-2A and will look to challenge last years’ champion Quitman.
Acorn senior boys will be a factor in the conversation at the end of the year as the season winds down. Coach Willsey has been trying to help get the boys back into the top couple of positions over the last couple of years. Over the last couple of years the boys have demonstrated a lot of talent and with a young team coming back there shows to be good promise.
The Tigers will return several State runners including Matthew Chaney, Brady Lyle, Aaron Baker, Adam Hughes, Curtis Shorts, and Mason Stout. Last year Acorn finished 6th in the team standings at State and look to build on that this year. The boys were successful and finished well in a lot of area races and Coach Willsey hopes the boys build on that success. Ouachita was the 1st place team at State and the Tigers are looking to make up ground and make it back to the podium at State.
Numbers will be high again this year for the program, as Acorn looks to have 40-60 runners out to compete. The Tigers will partner with Mena and Coach Randy Peters to host a meet at the Lions Club in October.