El Dorado wins Wildcat Invitational

El Dorado's Julian Marquez leads Hermitage's Eric Hernandez in the early stages of the junior boys race Saturday at the Wildcat Invitational. Marquez won the race and led El Dorado to the team title. El Dorado won both senior high and junior high boys' events.

El Dorado ran well on its home course Saturday morning with the Wildcats winning both senior boys and junior boys at the Wildcat Invitational, held at South Arkansas Regional Airport. Zach McMillon won the senior boys’ event with Julian Marquez finishing first in the junior boys’ race.

“Meet went very well. There weren’t any problems at all. Everything went off without a hitch,” said El Dorado coach John Koonce, who listed names of several volunteers to thank, most notably airport manager Johnathan Estes. “He always goes above and beyond and, a lot of times, he does things we don’t even ask him to do, just because he’s taken ownership of it as well and he’s taking pride in the meet.”

Magnolia won the senior girls’ title with Sheridan claiming the junior girls’ championship.

El Dorado’s senior boys edged Magnolia by a scant two points. McMillon set a course record of 16:38.52, beating Prescott’s G’Mar Britton (17:18.82) and Magnolia’s DeJuan Dismuke (17:55.20).

El Dorado’s Riley Dumas was fourth with a time of 18:18.99. Charlie Conner (7th), Eli Rodriguez (12th), Aaron Yarbrough (18th), Jake Dilworth (22nd) and Ford Ricker (37th) were the Wildcats’ other top finishers.

“They ran well. Obviously Zach had a phenomenal day. He was focused for this meet and he’s been focused on it for a while. He had the best race of his life,” said Koonce.

“Riley is just a strong, consistent runner. You can always count on what he’s going to give you and it’s always going to be good. Charlie Conner had a good day. He was kind of banged up a little bit so we had to pull back some in training this week to make sure he was going to be good to go for the meet. Eli Rodriguez got back into form to where he was at the beginning of the season. He’s also been banged up but he had a really good week of practice. He’s returning to form. Aaron Yarbrough stepped up and had an amazing day. We don’t win that meet if Aaron Yarbrough doesn’t do what he did because it was a close meet. Aaron just had a monster day.”

Magnolia finished 1-2-3 in the senior girls’ race, won by Baylee Hudman (21:58.26) followed by Sophie Ellington (22:05.37) and Lauren Wilson (22:06.56) with Sheridan’s Belle Norman fourth (22:43.97).

El Dorado’s Corin Melear (23:21.59) finished fifth and Ainsley Colvin sixth (23.24.52). Nadalee Pumphrey was 12th and Jaelyn Dumas was 19th in her first race of the season for the Lady Wildcats, who didn’t have enough runners to compete in the team totals.

“Nadalee had a really good day. She’s been coming on strong,” said Koonce. “I think the best is still to come for her.”

Hermitage and Little Rock Central finished second and third in the senior girls’ race.

Marquez won the junior boys race with a time of 10:06.48, edging Hermitage’s Eric Hernandez (10:09.44). The Wildcats ran away with the team title with Magnolia a distant second.

Oscar Garcia (5th), Caleb Digby (6th), Justin Obiozo (7th), Logan Nutt (9th), Ignacio Chavez (12th), Bailey Morgan (13th), Bayron Henriquez (15th), Luis Acosto (17th), Jackson Smith (18th) and Diego Aguilar (21st) were El Dorado’s other top runners.

“(Marquez) won the race. He wasn’t pushed. There was nobody to race with,” said Koonce. “The rest of the team ran really well as well. It was not close. They are our deepest squad. We have very good runners on every team but they have a little more depth and that’s what separates them.”

Sheridan (32) beat El Dorado (45) for the junior girls’ title followed by Prescott (53), Hermitage (90) and Crossett (120). Emilee Davis of Blevins won the race (11:38.62) with Ouachita’s Ava Graves in second (11:46.29).

Jane Wilson led El Dorado with a sixth place finish followed by Eliana Rodriguez (9th), Abigail Mitchell (10th), Sarahi Rodriguez (19th) and Adelynn Griffin (22nd).

“Junior girls did well,” said Koonce. “We haven’t been able to get over the hump with Sheridan this year but we have closed the gap on them. We were down a runner. We were down Abri White. I told the girls, you still have to go after them. I believe in you. And they did. They stepped up and made it respectable and gave ourselves a chance. Sheridan was just a little bit better than us. Eliana found another level. She went for it and had an excellent day. Her ceiling is very high.”

Around the area, Junction City’s Justin Johnson was 25th in the senior boys with Jacob McDonald 28th and Calob McDonald (38th). Smackover’s Evan Phillips was 47th.

Junction City’s Bella Taylor was 11th in the junior high girls with Smackover’s Kyndal McDonald 15th. Smackover’s Braden Alexander finished 20th in the junior boys’ race.

“Very thankful for all the people who came out and supported,” said Koonce. “The course was full, not just of people from El Dorado but people from all over coming to support their team. But, there was a ton of purple out there supporting the El Dorado Wildcats. We’re very grateful everyone came out and stuck around on what turned out to be a pretty hot day. It was great to see it. We’re thankful for our local teams - Junction City and Smackover - for coming out and participating.

El Dorado returns to action Tuesday in the Scrapper Invitational in Nashville.