Panthers, Lady Panthers take second at district track meet

The Heber Springs Senior Girls track team pose with the 4A-4 district runner-up trophy. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

The Heber Springs Lady Panthers and Panthers fell short of their goals at the 4-4A Conference track and field meet, but came away with success.

The Panthers and Lady Panthers were runner-up in their respective divisions with 13 athletes qualifying for the Class 4A state meet in 16 events at Panther Stadium on Wednesday.

Freshman Parker Brown, who received the high-point award at last week’s junior high meet, scored 46 points and won the high-point award at Wednesday’s competition. Brown was the winner of the 100-meter dash, high jump and long jump and finished second in the 200-meter dash and triple jump.

Heber Springs freshman Parker Brown won the high point award the 4A-4 district track meet. Brown had also won the high point award at the 4A-4 junior high district meet on April 21. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

“It was a good day,” Brown said. “I got a personal best in the long jump. Winning the high point again was a surprise.”

Heber Springs head boys’ coach Dale Cresswell said Brown’s performance was not a surprise to him.

“Parker is one of those athletes born with a lot of athletic abilty,” Cresswell said. “I knew he would score points.”

Kevin King was the other Panther who qualified in multi-events. King won the 200-meter dash and finished third in the 100-meter dash and the triple jump.
Nathan Poff claimed third place in the 1600-meter run and qualified for the state meet.

The Panthers scored 154.50 points, 18.50 points behind conference champion Ozark.

“It is always good to have a lot of personal bests and good performances,” Cresswell said. “We did well. The distance races were the main difference. Poff had a personal best in the 1600. We are working to become better in those events.”

Maygan Jarvis and Rylee Birmingham won multi-events for the Lady Panthers. Jarvis topped the field in the pole vault and discus. Birmingham won the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

Jaylea Hooten, runner-up for the girls’ high-point award, won the high jump and finished third in the long jump, and the 100- and 300-meter hurdles.

The Lady Panthers qualified in three relays for the state meet.

Jarvis, Addison Hudspeth, Natalie Buffalo and Cristina Garcia were third in the 800-meter relay. Natalie Buffalo, Jarvis, Garcia and Birmingham finished second in the 1600-meter relay. Riley Bailey, Allison Wildman, Sydney Buffalo and Vallie Cantrell were runner-up in the 3200-meter relay.

The Lady Panthers scored 119 points, 30 points behind conference winner Clarksville.

“I’m proud of the girls,” Heber Springs girls’ coach Hunter Davis said. “All you can from them is to give their best. I was pleased with the second-place finish. We had a lot of personal bests. We had good effort and left all out on the track.”

The state meet will be held at Nashville High School on Tuesday.

The Heber Springs senior boys track team pose with the runner-up trophy from the 4A-A district track meet. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

BOYS
Team totals — 1. Ozark 173; 2. Heber Springs 154.50; 3. Dardanelle 120; 4. Clarksville 104; 5. Pottsville 57; 6. Morrilton 54.50; 7. Subiaco Academy 23.
100-meter dash — 1. Parker Brown 11.72; 3. Kevin King 12:02; 6. Gabe Tate 12.25; 11. Bent McClain 12.91.
200-meter dash — 1. Kevin King 23.78; 2. Parker Brown 23.97; 3. Gabe Tate 25.11; 10. Alex Roy 26.23.
400-meter dash — 4. Gabe Tate 57.00; 15. Landon Leisenring 1:02.17; 16. Logan Cox 1:04.49; 20. Remington Bradley 1:08.74.
800-meter run — 4. Nathan Poff 2:17.62; 9. Thomas Spears 2:27.70; 10. Mason Harris 2:27.97; 14. Noah Cordes 2:37.03.
1600-meter run — 3. Nathan Poff 4:59.0; 8. Mason Harris 5:14.82; 11. Noah Cordes 5:22.92; 13. Reagan Buell 5:46.09.
3200-meter run — 5. Mason Harris 12:13.03; 6. Noah Cordes 12:24.26; 7. Reagan Buell 12:32.57; 9. Kevin Leal 13:14.56.
110-meter hurdles — 8. Evan Burgess 23.60.  
300-meter hurdles — 5. Bent McClain 47.71; 9. Judson Ogle 51.32; 12. Nathan Poff 54.74; 13. Evan Burgess 56.61.
400-meter relay — 5. Heber Springs (Colt Allen, Bent McClain, Landon Leisenring, Preston Roberson) 53.98.
800-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Colt Allen, Alex Roy, Bent McClain, Preston Roberson), 1:46.44.
1600-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Remington Bradley, Landon Leisenring, Logan Cox, Aaron Combs), 4:26.21.
3200-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Jonathan Henriquez, Colton Cole, Caleb Bradley, Jaxson Cox), 9:45.35.
High jump — 1. Parker Brown 6-0; 5. Nathan Poff 5-2; 6. Bent McClain 5-0.
Long jump — 1. Parker Brown 21-5; 5. Kevin King 19-4; 10. Nathan Poff 17-0; 15. Colt Allen 14-8.
Triple jump — 2. Parker Brown 40-8.50; 3. Kevin KIng 38-10; 8. Judson Ogle 32-10.25.
Shot put — 5. Preston Roberson 36-3.75; 8. Allen Colt 33-5; 11. Corbin Jones 31-3,75; 13. Tripp Young 29-9.50.
Discus — 5. Corbin Jones 88-1; 6. Alex Roy 88-0; 8. Tripp Young 85-0; 10. Remington Bradley 80-0.
GIRLS
Team totals — 1. Clarksville 149; 2. Heber Springs 119; 3. Ozark 97; 4. Pottsville 73; 5. Morrilton 59; 6. Dardanelle 56.
100-meter dash — 5. Jaylea Hooten 13.66; 10. Natalie Buffalo 14.47; 19. Lili Chaney 15.62.
200-meter dash — 4. Jaylea Hooten 28.20; 7. Natalie Buffalo 29.39; 8. Cristina Garcia 31.07.
400-meter dash — 6. Maygan Jarvis 1:06.65; 11. Cristina Garcia 1:12.52; 12. Lili Chaney 1:12.98.
800-meter run — 7. Vallie Cantrell 2:58.42; 11. Sydney Buffalo 3:01.36; 15. Riley Bailey 3:15.28; 16. Allison Wildman 3:18.26.
1600-meter run — 5. Vallie Cantrell 6:26.40; 8. Sydney Buffalo 6:40.75; 10. Allison Wildman 6:57.91.
3200-meter run — 4. Vallie Cantrell 14:14.70; 7. Sydney Buffalo 15:25.48; 8. Riley Bailey 15:45.14.
100-meter hurdles — 1. Rylee Birmingham 17.91; 3. Jaylea Hooten 18.48; 8. Samantha Gilley 20.33.
300-meter hurdles — 1. Rylee Birmingham 52.95; 3. Jaylea Hooten 55.66; 5. Samantha Gilley 57.43; 8. Maygan Jarvis 58.89.
400-meter relay — 6. Heber Springs (Ava Noble, Eva Jones, Mia Screeton, Lili Chaney), 1:03.78.
800-meter relay — 3. Heber Springs (Maygan Jarvis, Addison Hudspeth, Natalie Buffalo, Cristina Garcia), 2:00.72.
1600-meter relay — 2. Heber Springs (Natalie Buffalo, Maygan Jarvis, Cristina Garcia, Rylee Birmingham), 4:37.21.
3200-meter relay — 2. Heber Springs (Riley Bailey, Allison Wildman, Sydney Buffalo, Vallie Cantrell), 11:25.58.
High jump — 1. Jaylea Hooten 5-3; 9. Vallie Cantrell 4-4.
Pole vault — 1. Maygan Jarvis 9-4; 4. Ava Noble 8-0; 5. Samantha Gilley 7-6.
Long jump — 3. Jaylea Hooten 15-8; 5. Natalie Buffalo 15-5; 11. Addison Hudspeth 14-10; 15. Cristina Garcia 14-7.
Triple jump — 4. Addison Hudspeth 30-4.50; 15. Allison Wildman 24-2.75; 16. Eva Jones 23-8.50; 17. Sydney Buffalo 23-6.
Shot put — 11. Lili Chaney 21-7.50; 12. Miah Tharp 21-6.50; 16. Ava Little 19-6.50; 17. Lily Hendrix, 17-11.
Discus — 1. Maygan Jarvis 79-3; 5. Ava Little 67-10; 7. Miah Tharp 61-8; 16. Lily Hendrix 49-2.

Panthers season ends in district tourney

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

A season of ups and downs came to a conclusion for the Heber Springs Panther baseball team on Monday.

Ozark capitalized on its opportunities during the second and sixth innings and defeated the Panthers 7-2 in a 4-4A Conference Tournament play-in game at the Heber Springs Sports Complex.

Heber Springs finished the season with a record of 5-14.

“It was a game of momentum swings,” Panther head coach Monterio May said. “We came out a little flat for the first inning. We didn’t capitalize on Ozark’s mistakes like we should and could have scored more runs. The little things made a big difference in the end.”

Jacob Lawsen led off the top of the second inning for Ozark by reaching on an error. Dax Shaffer followed with a single, and Lawsen scored the game’s first run on an infield out. Rylee Griffin walked to load the bases. Tyler Sanders was safe on an error as Shaffer and Griffin scored for the 3-0 lead.

“I told the team during the third inning we needed to chip away at the lead,” May said. “We scored two runs during the fifth and had an opportunity for more runs before a base-running blunder.”

Corbin Jones and Conner Riddle each hit singles to start the bottom of the fifth. Garrett Hudspeth bunted in an attempt to advance the runners and beat the throw to first base to load the bases. Matthew Cook lined a 2-run single into center field. Easton Cusick, running for Hudspeth, was caught in a rundown between second and third bases for the first out.

The Panthers reloaded the bases with walks to Kenan Sneed and Cole Payton. Larsen relieved McAnally and stopped the rally by striking out the next two batters as Ozark clung to a 3-2 lead.

Ozark put the game away by scoring four runs in the top of the sixth inning. The Hillbillies loaded the bases on back-to-back walks and a hit batsman. Jones, who relieved Hudspeth, hit Sanders with a pitch for the first running of the inning, scoring Cook. The final two runs scored on a balk and a 2-run single by Sebastain Ross.

“We gave up too many free passes (six walks),” May said. “We need to learn from this season and plan to be back in the playoffs next year. I’m proud of the team for never giving up.”

The Panthers  will lose two senior starters to graduation — Cook and Hudspeth. May said the team’s future is bright.

“We are losing  good seniors, who were outstanding leaders for the team,” May said. “We have a lot of talent returning and more on the way.”

Ozark 030 004 0–7 5 2
Heber Springs` 000 020 0–2 6 3
Ozark hitters — Kayden McAnally 2 singles; Sebastian Ross single, 2 RBIs; Rylee Griffin single, 1 RBI; Dax Shaffer single; Tyler Sanders 1 RBI.
Ozark pitchers — Kayden McAnally(W) 4 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned run, 2 strikeouts, 3 walks in 4.1 innings; Jacob Larsen (Save) 1 hit, 0 runs, 4 strikeouts in 2.2 innings.
Heber Springs hitters — Mathew Cook 2 singles, 2 RBIs, 1 stolen base; Corbin Jones 2 singles; Garrett Hudspeth single; Conner Riddle single.
Heber Springs pitchers — Garrett Hudspeth (L) 4 hits, 4 runs, 1 earned run, 4 strikeouts, 5 walks in 5 innings; Corbin Jones 1 hit, 3 earned runs, 1 walk in 2 innings.

Riley takes reigns of Panther basketball program

New Heber Springs senior boys basketball Jordan Riley . Riley’s father, Alvin, coached the Heber Springs boys team to one of the program’s best seasons ever in 1988-89. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO

By LARRY “SCOOP” McCARTY

Jordan Riley said becoming the new head boys’ basketball coach at Heber Springs was like coming home.

Riley was born in 1990 at Heber Springs when his father, Alvin Riley, coached the Panthers and his aunt, Kristie Dunlap was head coach of the Lady Panthers.

“It will give me a chance of living closer to family,” said Riley when asked about what attracted him to the job. “Heber (Springs) boys do have a good history, but not great lately. It’s an opportunity to build the program back to success. Heber (Springs) is an awesome community with good fan support I feel good about what we can accomplish.”

Riley’s wife, Kelsi, who is a business teacher at Midland High School, will serve in a similar capacity at HSHS. The Rileys are parents of a son, Drew, 14-months-old.

Alvin Riley coached the Panthers for three years, beginning with the 1988-89 season. Riley led the Panthers to a 24-8 record and the quarterfinals of the Class 3A tournament. The 24 wins was a school single-season record at that time.

Heber Springs advanced to the regional tournament under Riley during the 1989-90 and 1990-91 seasons.

Riley said his father has been the biggest influence on his coaching career.

“He won more than 800 games during his career, and he is a tough path to follow,” Riley said. “I will try and carry on that legacy.”

Jordan Riley is a graduate of Vilonia High School. At that time, Heber Springs superintendent Dr. Andy Ashley was the Vilonia assistant principal. Heber Springs athletic director Tim Bullington, who was an assistant coach for Alvin Riley, severed as a school administrator at Vilonia.

Jordan Riley graduated with a degree in management information systems from the University of Central Arkansas in 2013. He worked the next four years at Acxiom in Conway before deciding to pursue his dream of becoming a coach.

Riley received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in 2017 and was named assistant coach at Two Rivers High School in Ola. He was promoted the next season to head coach and held that position for the next three years.

Riley led Two Rivers to back-to-back state tournaments before becoming head girls coach at Southside Batesville in 2019.

Riley coached the past two seasons at Southside Batesville. The Lady Southerners were 6-21 the year before he was named head coach and finished 17-9 last season.

Riley will be a head coach of a boys’ team for the first time, but he believes the transition will go smooth.

“The key is learn how to handle each player,” he said. “Every person is different. The main thing is to show the players you care for them and want to help them become the best it can be.”

Riley is ready to start as soon as his schedule allows and plans to meet this week with his new players. He will look at the strengths of his players in formulating a system for the Panthers.

“We will play at the pace that benefits us,” he said. “We will not necessary play just fast or slow. I prefer playing a physical man-to-man defense. The most important thing on offense is taking good shots.”

Riley hopes to get a start on Riley will juggle time between Southside and Heber Springs for the remainder of the school year.

“I would love to start practice because some of the players will be in football,” he said. “It takes time to put in a system.”

Riley will become the fifth head coach in six seasons of the Panthers and looks forward to turning the program around. Heber Springs was 1-23 last season.

“I watched the team on film and they have some good players,” he said. “The junior high group coming up is talented. The pieces are there for a good team.”

Dusty West served as interim coach this past season and was teammates with Riley at Vilonia.

4A-4 District Tournament bracket

Monday, April 26

Game 1 – (7) Ozark at (6) Heber Springs, 4:30 p.m. (game played at Heber Springs)

Tuesday, April 27 at Dardanelle

Game 2 – (4) Pottsville vs. (5) Subiaco Academy, 4:30 p.m.

Game 3 – (3) Clarksville vs. Winner Game 1, 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 29 at Dardanelle

Game 4 – (1) Morrilton vs. Winner Game 2, 4:30 p.m.

Game 5 – (2) Dardanelle vs. Winner Game 3, 7 p.m.

Friday, April 30 at Dardanelle

Championship Game – Game 4 winner vs. Game 5 winner, 6 p.m.

(Note: Top 4 teams advance to regional tournament)

Brown earns high point award

Heber Springs ninth-grader Parker Brown poses with the high point award and the junior boys team trophy after the 4A-4 junior high track meet on Wednesday at Panther Stadium. Brown was part of a junior high football team that finished third in the conference, a basketball team won the regular season title and a track team that won the team title. PHILIP SEATON PHOTO