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Boys Spring Sports Preseason Strengths and Weaknesses

MC Selig

MC Selig

Chris Morgan, Writer

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The 2018 spring sport season has started off looking good for the Hornets, whether it’s the Hornet soccer team rebuilding after losing significant talent and leadership from last season, the track team looking to repeat a conference championship and make a run at a state title, or possibly the Diamond Hornets baseball team with plenty of new faces attempting to continue the respected legacy that is Bryant High School baseball.

Soccer

The players are coming off a tough 1-0 loss to Rogers in the state playoffs in their 2017 season. They ended their regular season conference play 8-6, placing 3rd in the 7A Central conference.

This season, they are looking to take revenge after coming up just short in the state playoffs. However, some questions still remain that might be the difference for the success or failure of the season.

Soccer Weaknesses

Boys head soccer coach Richard Friday had plenty to say about improvements his team still needs to make.

“I think our biggest challenge is focus,” Friday said. “We have a tendency to drift in and out as we play.”

Another question that the Hornets have to be answer is if they will be able to keep pace with conference rivals Catholic. Last season, they lost both meetings between the two teams, with both games ending in a score of 2-0.

Catholic is not the only team the Hornets have to contend with this season. Fort Smith Northside is coming off a one loss season after going 13-1 in conference play. Both teams look to challenge the Hornet’s for the treasured first-round bye of state playoffs.

Soccer Strengths

While the Hornets are losing key senior leadership, there is plenty of new senior talent stepping up to take up to lead the 2018 season. Forward/midfielder Jhorman Cruz and midfielder Dawson Oakley have been named Senior co-captains and hope to maintain momentum from last season.

Another strength for the Hornets is their experienced coaching in Richard Friday.

“I’m better than I was last year with my understanding of what each team will bring,” Friday said.

Coaching experience is key to any team’s success. In Friday’s first season he led the team to the quarter finals, nearly getting to the finals. Friday brings years of club experience with him and has impacted the team greatly.

With the team’s large number of seniors and strong coaching, the Hornets look to compete for their first state title. The Hornets kick off their season at home against Hall Tues. Feb. 27

Track and Field

The Hornet track team is coming off a 2017 conference championship, claiming the title after beating the second place team, conference rival Conway, by 42 points, with a total score of 180. However, the results did not transfer over in the state meet, with the Hornets only securing 52 total points and a sixth place finish behind Conway with 59 points.

Hornets look to repeat a conference title and also look to take a state title on their home track as they host the 2018 State Championship.

Track and Field Weaknesses

Steve Oury, boys head track coach, believes the team has to respond after losing some senior talent from last season.

“I’m hoping we can maintain the level we achieved last year, winning a conference championship,” Oury said. “But it will be a challenge since we lost a state champion hurdler in Landon Abernathy, along with an Allstate caliber distance runner in John Carder and several other talented athletes.”

Conference rivals always bring a huge challenge for the Hornets. Last season however, the Hornets dominated the conference meet on their own track beating the second place team, Conway, by 46 points.

“I think it will be a real challenge to win the conference this year,” Oury said. “Conway is going to be really tough, as well as North Little Rock and Cabot.”

Track and Field Strengths

“The sprint, jump, and distance athletes should consistently provide us with points based upon who we have coming back,” Oury said.

Specifically, Oury noted a few athletes he specifically wanted to watch.

“I think that athletes like Logan Kretsch in the 400 and 800 meter runs, Michael Chatmon in the shotput and discus and Braylon Butler in the hurdles will have a chance to score some points in events in which we lost some talented seniors.”

On the track, Hornets look to bring pressure on conference rivals and compete for their second state title in the past five years. The Hornets kick off the season Thurs.  March 8 at the Benton Panther Relays.

“We have had a pretty balanced team over the last couple of years, and this year looks to be similar,” Oury said”

Baseball

The diamond Hornets are coming off a somewhat, disappointing 19-10 regular season in 2017. In the state playoffs, the team scraped through the first two rounds, beating Springdale 1-0 and Bentonville 9-8 only to lose to their conference rivals, Cabot, 14-4. Cabot ended up winning the state title.

The goal for 2018 is looking forward from last season and training young freshman and sophomore talent for the future.

Baseball Weaknesses

Travis Queck, head baseball coach, knows there are  a few challenges that the team has to overcome, but still remains optimistic for the season.

“We have relatively new pitchers that are in new roles, as well as we are an extremely young team,” Queck said, “The attention to detail and focus as well as the maturation of the young guys will be what could set us up for a big season.”

The pitching depth was lacking last season, especially towards the end of the season and in playoffs. When the Hornets struggled, it was often due to games needing multiple  pitching changes.

Baseball strengths

“Strengths of this year’s team is the experience that they gained last year,” Queck said.

The Hornets’ last season had three sophomores in their lineup: Jake Wright, Logan Chambers and Coby Greiner. They look to add even more sophomores to the varsity lineup, like Cade Drennen.

Another strength for the team is pitching depth. 18 of 24 people on the team can pitch with any notice.

“As always, the best thing about baseball in Bryant is the tradition, expectations, and that these kids grow up playing ball together,” Queck said

 

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